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Wielding the Blog-O-Sword

Ok, now this is a weird story, but I think its worth telling.

I went to Silicon Valley to visit with lots of developers and to talk at the SD Forum Web Services SIG earlier this week. Things didn’t start off well. My planned 8:20 AM departure from Seattle turned into a 10:00 AM departure, thanks to bad weather and a maintenance problem. These maintenance problems are becoming a regular annoyance when flying Alaska Airlines.

Anyway, I got to San Francisco Airport (SFO) over 2 hours late, and it was raining cats and dogs. In order to save my employer a bit of money, I chose the cheapest rental car I could find, taking it in preference to our “preferred” vendor because it was half the price (about $31/day). After waiting a long time, the el cheapo shuttle van shows up and takes me to the place. I get there, and present my license and credit card so that I can get my car and be on my way.

The clerk looks at my record and tells me “You are too late, we expected you two hours ago, and I cannot give you this rate anymore.” The accumulated frustration from the endless delays on what started out as a simple trip start to boil in my stomach, and I grit my teeth and braced for the worst. I tell him that I don’t have authorization to spend any more than $31 per day on the car, and that’s that. He stands his ground. Bile rising, I stand my ground and think for a second.

“Ok, dude, ” I tell him. “You’ve got two options. Number one, you can give me the car at the price you agreed to. Number two, you can take me back to the airport, and I’ll find another car. However, I have to tell you that I run a really popular web site, and I will be happy to tell all of my readers just how bad the service is here at this particular location.”

He thought for a second, while the impact of my world-wide blogging ability slowly settled in. I could see him realizing that a few simple words from me could utterly ruin him, his agency, and perhaps the entire rental car company. I saw him quiver, as he realized that I was indeed that Jeff Barr, and that my blog really was that popular. In his head he weighed the tradeoff, a few dollars per day vs. my considerable Page Rank, Alexa Rank, and writing skills. He saw a bleak future before him, and he knew I had won.

“Alright, you can have the car this time. But next time [as if] you need to call first if you will be late.”

Victory was mine, and I put my Blog-O-Sword back into its sheath, ready to wield it again when next faced with an intrasigent clerk.

Had a good 2 days in the valley, ending with a great Italian dinner at Kuleto’s. Rushed to make my 8:20 PM flight, only to endure repeated delays and an actual departure at 11:30 PM. Alaska Air has been my favorite airline for a long time, but they are rapidly using up my supply of goodwill. There are not a whole lot of choices when flying SEA to SJC or SEA to SFO.