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Rene' to the Rescue

When I flew into Calgary on Friday, I was late picking up the rental car I had booked because of the drama that had caused the airport to go into lockdown mode. I was a little anxious because it was after 5 pm and I was hoping the rental car would have been still available given that I had been scheduled to pick it up a few hours earlier.

When I found the place, the woman behind the counter was nice enough, despite continually trying to upsell the whole time I was at her desk. Did I need a GPS? ($15.00 additional a day), I would be better to take a more comprehensive insurance package as there were lots of stone chips in paint and windscreens in cars coming back that I would be liable for , ($11.99 a day) and did I need a bigger car for an extra $25 a day? I said no to all of the above. I am traveling with my own GPS having been caught by this before. I had downloaded it with North American maps purchased from Garmin online as it was just one more expense I didn’t need to be incurring.

The truth about the upgrade offer was that in reality , she had no small cars left to offer me on the lot despite the fact that I had booked one a month ago. That’s the secret really to getting an upgrade at no cost particularly if you intend picking a car p later in the day. I always book the smallest class of car and am often upgraded for no extra cost because all the little ones have gone earlier.

I think she had her 6 o’clock wine on her mind and after I signed all the paperwork she hurriedly pointed me into the car park full of dozens of rentals to send me on my way. I am geographically challenged at the best of times and do you think I could find the bloody thing?

Luckily Renee’ was loitering in the park for some reason. He works for Thrifty Car rentals and his big smile and cheery disposition must be one of their biggest assets in public relations. He helped me find the car after we introduced, threw my bag in the trunk and off we both went our separate ways. He recognized me instantly when I dropped the car back in the line this morning calling me by my name. I expect he has a pretty good reputation for customer service on that basis alone and it was quite comforting . Most of the cars are due back at 10 am and there is always a full complement of staff working at that time, checking in cars, taking mileages, inspecting for damage and dealing with anything else that needs completed as part of the return.

When I closed the door for the last time (or so I thought) he reminded me to check that I had everything? He said people leave lots of thing lots of times! I checked the car for the last time in the dim light and was on my way! I was confident I had everything this time as for three days I had lived out of my backpack, leaving my main pack in the trunk of the car to save lugging it in an out of hostels.

I waved Renee’ goodbye as he wished me well and directed me to take a shortcut to the terminal to check in. Reaching the terminal, I went to repack my hand luggage and shift all my camera gear into my backpack. For the life of me I couldn’t find one camera lens and felt a small moment of panic. I have lost a bit of stuff over the last week, ranging from my purse, visa card, mouth guards, drink bottle and the best pair of old lady pajamas you ever did see, so the thought of having to replace that lens made me cross.

As I had trelled along the Icepack Highway over the weekend between Banff and Jasper, I had left all my camera lens's on the front seat of the car so I would be able to change them quickly if wildlife came into view. It has been a bit of a learning curve for me, but it has also allowed me to take some very cool photos on this trip regardless of the distance of the subject. I turned that laden trolley around after realising that the smaller of the three was missing and headed back to see Renee’. The cars had piled up behind where I had left mine and navigating the narrow lane between them was a hazard at best.

The pair of us turned that car upside down looking for that lens– and couldn’t find it. He was upset for me and assured me that it must have been in my bag as no one had been near the car. I knew it wasn’t in my bag because despite the fact that I am continually lost and looking for things, I do have this chaotic sort of order going on when I am traveling, particularly if it involves all my electronic goods. God forbid I shouldn’t be able to report on my travels. As a last-ditch effort Renee’ got down on the ground and check under the front seat again with his hand and broke into a big smile. The lens was there tucked under the seat. I could have kissed him. Actually, I did and he returned my embrace as enthusiastically.

He said people constantly leave stuff in rental cars despite being told to check. Items of clothing, personal effects, cameras, maps and other things of value. They are recovered by the guys like Renee’ when the cars are returned and sent over to the dispatch office where they remain for 30 days allowing a client time to try and track their lost things down. After that time is up I think the staff empty the lost and found box to whatever takes their fancy and the rest is history.

Anyway, my camera lens isn’t history. Its back packed safely in position as I board my flight to Portland and then continue onto Las Vegas. I am so glad. Not only because it’s a pain in the arse losing things but because I am sure when I put my claim into the travel insurance for all the things I have managed to lose they will probably think I have made it up. I haven’t you know, and I still have ten days to go so let’s see how much more stuff I can add to the list.

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