There’s a first time for everything

As even long-term parking at O’Hare is expensive, I elected to arrange a car from/to home for OpenWorld last week. I’ve used the same service several times and they’ve always been professional and on time–except this time.

The ride from home to the airport was boring enough–they were only 5 minutes late to my door, but that’s excusable. The ride home from O’Hare was the more interesting story. As usual at O’Hare, the cars have to wait about 20 minutes from the terminal in a lot. I got off the plane, called to let them know I’m ready and he told me 20 minutes–no surprise. I didn’t time them, but it was about 20 minutes, so that was okay. The negatives began when I sat behind the driver (who was shorter than I am) and got kneecapped as I sat down because his seat was so far back. Turns out, apparently his vehicle (which I presume is exclusively used for chauffeuring people around) has no trunk release, so in order to stow my bag, he had to turn the car off and remove the key from the ignition (how could he not have a spare key?) which in many luxury cars will cause the seat to move all the way back. Now, you’d think that a professional driver would be smart enough to disable this kneecapping feature so that the passenger behind the driver wouldn’t be inconvenienced–I know I would, but then again I guess I am a detail-oriented person.

We finally left the airport with me and one other passenger and headed into rush-hour traffic on Friday evening. It was evident that I was in for a rough ride as the driver had more of a “cab driver” style of flooring the car for every 5-foot advancement and then slamming on the brakes just before ramming into the car ahead. No collisions on this ride, though there were at least two times I had to brace myself on the back of the seat to keep from injuring myself.

The punchline of this joke is that about 3 miles after we left the airport, he pulls off at the O’Hare oasis and mumbled something about gasoline. He drives into the gas station and stops in front of a pump. Turns off the car (which kneecaps me again), hops out of the car and jogs inside the building. I commented to the passenger next to me that this is a first. Seems to me that a professional driver wouldn’t inconvenience his patrons with a stop for gas when he clearly could have done the stop before picking us up. Also, it was rush hour, so the ride was already longer than normal due to traffic. He finally emerges from the station with a cup of coffee in hand and *then* starts to pump the gas. I think the car (a Lincoln Continental) only took about 10 gallons which means it was still about 1/2 full and he just wanted coffee. The rest of the ride home was a jostling ride in traffic where we went 50 mph for 100 feet and then slammed on the brakes again.

I just looked at my receipt and see that I had a little trouble writing my first number, so I will have to confirm that they didn’t interpret that as an 8 instead of a 5 (I intended to give $0 tip). I’m not interested in publicly blackballing this company, but I surely won’t use them again as there are plenty of others ready to take my $$ and I’m not sure it is possible to provide worse service.