Road trip gives student new perspective on children

Commentary Opinion

I had no plans for going anywhere for Spring Break, and then someone I cared about died; and since I am a poor, non-traditional college student with two kids, I had to drive.

This wasn’t unexpected, my grandmother fell recently—she was 93-years-old and her health had been failing her for some time now. Still, it isn’t easy when someone you care about gets to this stage of life.

My family and I packed up the car that night, so that we could leave early in the morning, that didn’t happen.

I rented a car using Travelocity for pickup at 7am on Saturday, hoping to get to the Atlanta, GA, area by 9pm local time.

I am sure many of you are unfamiliar with renting a car because many companies have policies restricting use by people under 25. Let me educate you on the main policy that applies to most people—they only take credit cards, not credit-branded debit cards (sort of).

You always need a credit card, with available funds, not funds that you think are available. I made a payment to my Discover Card hoping to use it for this trip. Nope. The $200 payment was put in limbo, I found out later, because the payment was made after 5pm Eastern, that’s a great policy for Discover card holders in California, way to go Discover. Anyway, I made the reservation and went to pick up the car at 7am, like I had scheduled. No again. Long story short I called Discover and they authorized a force charge on the funds that I needed to rent the car and provide me with an authorization code for the required amount.

In steps Alamo, they are willing to work with me the entire time, bless them. I end up waiting for almost two additional hours as three people try to force the transaction through their wonderful computer system. Every one of them tries and fails repeatedly. Frustrated as he worked the third person finally says, “You don’t have another card do you?”

“Only my debit card,” I said.

And after all that time and frustration, he tells me that he will just use the debit card and explain why he is using it in the notation field. I know I stood there in stunned disbelief as the first person returned to finish the transaction. It turns out that many rental car companies have gone to a policy of selectively allowing debit card transactions. Alamo’s official policy is that you need to show an itinerary for air, boat or train travel, weird.

Three hours after we started, we finally got on the road for a, roughly 14 hour slice of heaven in the mid-size Pontiac Vibe.

The trip was haphazardly planned and packed for, got off to a bang and ended up being a whirlwind 60 or so hours long, about 30 of that was spent in the car—with a 3-year-old and an 8-year-old both of whom handled the trip very well.

It was my grandmother so I know I was short with them several times and I have since apologized.

The highlight of the trip was probably spent in the bathroom of a Chick-fil-a restaurant. My little girl needed to go potty; it was my turn to take her. We went into the men’s room, which always starts a line of questioning.

When we get in there, we’re alone. Sophie is sitting there and a man comes in the room.

“Is that a boy Daddy,” she asks.

“Yes, that’s probably a boy,” I say.

“Is he going potty,” she asks.

“Yes, he’s probably going potty,” I say.

“Is he gonna hold his hot dog,” she asks, loudly.

As I am stifling laughter I tell her that yes, he will probably hold his hotdog to go potty as I hear him quickly leave.

Three-year-olds have a natural ability of saying things, without trying, to make you laugh even when you weren’t in the mood.

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