Vacation Time

Jim Luff
Posted on May 22, 2013

This trip, we are off to Denver to watch my niece graduate from high school.This same young lady spent years peddling everything from Girl Scout cookies to car wash tickets in our business office.Her dad (my wife's brother) works for a division of Shell Oil and was transferred a few years ago from our home town of Bakersfield to the metropolis of Denver.It seems only fitting that we should attend this milestone in her life.

We normally would take a limousine to the airport and be picked up by the same when traveling out of one of Los Angeles' three major airports but this time would be different as I just got myself a new sports car.As many of you might already know, I turned fifty last year and seem to be going through some midlife crisis so making the 2-hour trip to Los Angeles in my new little car was a thrill in itself.

The first stop once arriving in Los Angeles was Pink's Famous Hot Dogs. I once took a photo here of approximately 50 people standing in line under umbrellas in a driving rain.Not a fan of hot dogs?You haven't had a Pink's dog.The iconic restaurant has been serving dogs in the same location since 1939, starting with a hot dog cart.Today, it seems stuck in time with a "cash-only" policy and a strange ordering system where you order at an outside window and then invited inside to pay.The cashier is completely disconnected with the line staff that take and make your order yet service is flawless in this antiquated setting.There are no computers, no tickets completed by your order taker/hot dog maker.It's all in their head.Nothing is written down and all the ladies working behind the counter seem to be older than dirt.The whole ordering and paying process itself provides a good education on efficiency.Let me move past hot dogs now.

We arrived at our hotel and pulled into the Renaissance Hotel's porte-cochere (fancy word for hotel awning) and were promptly met by a valet parking attendant that was eager to assist us with our bags and getting our car parked.He provided me with a claim ticket and a business card that told me to TEXT my ticket number if I wanted my car brought around or when riding the shuttle bus back from the airport to the hotel and they would have the car ready and waiting.I like that idea.However, I don't think my parents would.They would want to call and speak to a live person but that's a generation gap situation.

The hotel check-in was nice and quick.The hotel room was great except for the crappy view of the rooftop air-conditioners next door.Check-out the next morning was simple and efficient as well.Although I prefer to check-out using the hotel TV or just picking up the phone and saying, "I'm checking out now".For those of you that do neither, it does matter.Housekeeping will go and make your room up as soon as they know you are out of it and this allows incoming guests to check in early.You know you have tried that before only  to be told there are no rooms ready.  Be considerate. 

The hotel shuttle bus kept dying and the driver would have to restart it.You could tell the bus was old and not in good mechanical condition.It reminded me of the importance when drivers write up something on the Daily Vehicle Inspection forms how important it is to fix it right away.I could sense the driver's frustration as he tried to keep the engine going.I also watched him load each person's baggage onto the shuttle bus and pack out again.It's amazing how many people provided not even a single dollar for his efforts on a free shuttle.Do they not know?Do they not care?I wanted to just yell out, "Hey, give the guy a quarter if that's all you have."

One thing I took note of is the driver's helpfulness in telling people exactly where to check in as he dropped them off.He would ask them what city they were going to and then provide further instruction.My wife commented, "Everyone around here works like a well oiled machine".The jockeying for position by all the hotel shuttles, rental car shuttles, Super Shuttles and other shuttles seemed like a well orchestrated show as well.The buses come so very close to touching each other but give and take space as needed with a simple beep of the horn that doesn't even come across as rude but more like, "I see you. Do you see me" or "Come on". 

The self check-in process was somewhat confusing but we managed to figure it out and hopefully our bags will arrive in Denver when we do if we got it all right.Check back next week as I update you on our vacation adventures and the good and bad customer service we encounter.Right now, I am at 35,000 feet and trusting that a car will be on-time and waiting for us when we land.

— Jim Luff, LCT contributing editor

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