Monday, December 7, 2009

Of Cattle, Cars, and Contracts...--December 7, 2009

I couldn't make this stuff up even if I tried.

Woke up at 7:30.  Yucky day.  Overcast at 1000 feet.  Forecast was for that to last until 1 o'clock.  Then clouds at 10,000.  Needless to say, that forecast was wrong.  These guys were AMAZING at not knowing what they are talking about.  I was pretty confident last night that I wasn't going to fly today.  What do ya know.

Went to a motorcycle restaurant for lunch...good ol' Harley Dan's Cafe.  Boy oh boy.  Wasn't really prepared for that.  These were some rough characters here.  Now granted, I have seen my fair share of rough folks over the years.  But I just had an entire day of people-watching today...and this started it all out.  I don't even know how to describe it...folks in dirty leather, tough-skinned faces with 3-day old unshaved stubble, old ragged bodies, and scars inside and out.  These folks had lived hard.  Probably a little too hard.  But I had a nice $5.00 breakfast...and I was pretty much left alone.  Smoke in the air, the talk of Sturgis, cigarette lighters, and the like.  For the first time in a long time, I kind of felt that I didn't belong.  It was almost too ragged.

Came back to the hotel and headed up to the room...but not before I noticed the huge number of huge trucks behind the hotel at the stockyards.  Hmm.  I had nothing but time.  I walked over!  What another experience!  I walked into this tiny crescent-moon shaped arena...and it was packed!  I had to climb up to the very top (acting like I knew what I was doing) just to get a seat.  A couple hundred men (and a few ladies) decked out in cowboy hats, Carharrt coveralls, boots, jeans, and bodies that seeped of work.  I felt right at home!  I spent the next hour and a half enthralled with a cattle auction.  The heifers or calves or bulls would all come in, usually in groups of five, and the bids would fly...averaging in the $1000-$1200 range.  And then the heads were ushered out...over and over and over again.  Very quick.  Hundreds (if not over a thousand?) of head of cattle.

I was more than fascinated.  I wondered who was buying these...who was selling these!  I have been enthralled with the farm life for ages, and I still wonder if I won't pursue that in the future.  I had a conversation with my dad just over a month ago...I said I miss "work."  I miss being a man, getting dirty, actually working for a living.  I just didn't feel manly as a pilot.  He said he couldn't think of anything more manly!  I'm not so sure I was convinced.  I just have an appreciation for good, hard work.  And frankly, I just don't get much of that.

I also learned that I pretty much love farm girls.  The receipt lady was young (20's), gorgeous, and pretty much hot in her jeans.  She was definitely meat AND potatoes.  But she wasn't the typical hot girl.  Not beach, mall, or model hot.  She was farm hot.  Man, I love that.

Ended up leaving there and headin' back for the hotel.  What a treat, though.  "This is Texas."

Went to Enterprise around 3:30.  I had rented a car for 5 days, and they gave me a rate of $9.89 per day.  Frankly, I wasn't going to argue.  But knowing that this didn't seem right, I asked the employee that dropped the car off if this was correct.  I said I may keep it longer than the 5 days...does that rate still apply?  She said of course!  I asked if she was sure, and she said yep!  Ok!  No arguments then!

Well, that was 4 days ago.  I certainly wanted to verify, so I drove to Enterprise.  I inquired about the charge after 5 days.  My contract showed $9.89.  The manager didn't agree.  I told her that her employee had told me that that rate was good as long as I had the car.  "Well, let's see."  And with that, she called her employee!  ha!  Well, it turned out I was right (I had no doubts), and the manager agreed to honor the price at the employee's mistake.  Sweet, I thought.

"Can I get that in writing"?

Oh boy.  What had I said?!  She glared at me.  "Is my word not good enough"?

"No, m'am."  Her face turned so red.

"Sir, I am hurt."


"Yes, really.  I can't believe you wouldn't take me at my word."

She was seriously taken aback by me!  She was devastated, and her face showed it!   She was soooo red.  It turned rather awkward between us.

"Listen, I deal with you guys every week..."  And I went on to explain to her that it easily becomes a "he said, she said" game.  Why, just now you called your employee because of that very fact!  I said something that you did not believe.

Anyway, she begrudgingly but very methodically took her card and started writing a note.  "I just need to make sure this will be honored."

"Well, I was going to write something in the Notes section on the computer."

"M'am, that is fine!  By all means, I don't need a personal note, then.  You can stop that.  As long as there is a record that you will honor the price you just told me."  She still couldn't believe it, and it was more than obvious.  But she refused to stop writing...she still wanted to give me that personal note...for whatever reason...and I don't think it was for business ethics.

I apologized not for making the statement but for it appearing that it was directed at her personally.  That was not the case at all.  I simply did not know her for more than 4 minutes at that point, and I have a history of dealing with Enterprise (and people), and as a business person, I MUST have things verified in writing.  I even made it clear that she might not be there when I returned the car...what then?  I needed proof.

Anyway, it was pretty awkward.  And I ended up feeling pretty crummy about her feeling bad.  The more I think about it, I really don't feel bad about asking for the proof.  I just don't take people at their words anymore.  Life has caused me to do that.  Sure, I owe her trust.  I have no reason not to trust her (the person).  But I don't necessarily trust her (the company, the system).  And having the past several hours to think about it, I think I would ask her why she will not release a car unless I sign the contract.  Why won't she trust that I will pay for it if I say I will?  Exactly. It's just not safe in business.  I still feel bad that she took it personally, but I explained myself adequately.  Hopefully she will see the reasoning (and necessity?) behind my request.

Not that I will have the car for much longer anyway!!!  Because.....

Got a call from the boss in the early evening.  Turns out our project has been canceled.  What?!  I guess the buyer thinks there are too many leaves on the trees.  This was originally supposed to be a Spring 2010 project, but Matt and I finished five other projects already, so they gave us this one.  Turns out that was a bad idea.  Too bad, too...we already had 40% completed!  I chuckle, though.  It's just like this job.  You simply CANNOT plan for anything!  Shoot, I had already told my family this is the place to send Christmas gifts as I was certain I would be here a couple of weeks!  Certain?!  ha!  Foolish.  That word simply does not exist in this job.  I haven't a clue where I go next.  I am officially on stand-by.

Went back to the Smokehouse in Lindsay, Texas, to make sure I got my BBQ before I headed out.  Man, they feed you well there!  So good!  Another interesting dive into the people-watching business.  A grandma and grandpa were raising their two young (4-years-old) grandsons.  I don't know the story.  But they admitted they were tired, worn out, ready to relax at night when they got home from a full day's work.  But the kids were full of energy, she said.  So they came out to eat after PTA, only to think about going home to start homework.  Yes, I eaves-dropped as she explained herself to another table while the kids went to the bathroom.  I simply can't imagine.  But they just plod away day by day.

I've been thinking about people/society/life/me a lot today.  Just how it all comes together.  I met a cute girl last night at the bar that used to live in New Mexico, Las Vegas, and now is here in Gainesville.  She was married once.  Now she's a waitress.  I just wonder how I came to be who I am.  Doing what I do.  If I was born in Gainesville, Texas, there is a high likelihood that I might have a cattle ranch down the road.  That my income would be solely based on the price I bought those heifers for this afternoon.

But as it is, I was paid to eat out today.  I remember Warren Buffett thinking the same things while he visited China.  If he was born over there, he would be transporting a rich man from Omaha in a canoe.  But as it was, it was just the reverse.  He didn't get it.  I just don't get it.  God?  Fate?  Life?  Randomness?  Ordainment?  All of the above?  Who knows.  I just plod away day by day.  Thankful for today, hoping to make the best of tomorrow if I'm given it.  If.

Speaking of which, it's going to be a logistical nightmare.  Matt flies home for vacation tomorrow from DFW.  He is currently in Cleburne, stranded under the low clouds.  Two other pilots are at Dallas Love, trying to get to Cleburne, stranded under the low clouds.  Matt's suitcase is here in Gainesville (he only took two-day's worth of stuff to Cleburne, thinking he'd be back today...ha!  No certainty, remember?!).  And the vacation pilot flies in to Dallas Love tomorrow evening after Matt leaves...and he needs to get to Matt's plane...currently in that he can fly up here to Gainesville to live with me.  Oh boy.  Oh, and the forecast is for low overcast up until 5 o'clock tomorrow evening!  This is going to be interesting.

Talked to the good friend for just over an six seconds!  I sure like that girl.

Went to bed at 11:30.

I don't plan on flying tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Hi aerial mapping pilot,
    I'm Kathy. I work at the Lindsay Letter newspaper in beautiful downtown Lindsay. Google sends me alerts whenever its feelers find Gainesville, Cooke County or Lindsay out there on the Web, so that's how I happened on your posts. I'm glad you like the Smokehouse, it is good. I'm partial to Dieter Brothers myself, but they both have their good points. I can't believe you went to Harley Dan's! They haven't been open long, and my husband and I decided to give them a try a couple of weeks ago. Like you, we got a good cheap meal, but we won't be back. Too much smoke. Have you been in the Pub in downtown Gainesville? It's where I would take someone from out of town, there or the Fried Pie.

    Anyway, I've enjoyed reading your comments on our area. I've asked myself the same questions you did. Why was I blessed with the life I have? There's some reason and something I'm supposed to do, just still wondering what it is.

    Glad you had favorable comments on our little airport. I just did a story on some of their improvements. Good luck in your flights, and with the girl!