Yesterday afternoon, we pulled into the Wyndham Riverfront Hotel in New Orleans and handed the car keys to Dude, a young guy parking cars for the hotel. He was probably in his early 20s, bundled up from the cold coming off of the river. Dude handed me a ticket for the car and told me to call about 15 minutes beforehand if we needed to take out the car. He said it would be parked eight blocks away, and they would need some time to get it for us.
So this morning we left the hotel with my in-laws and walked down Convention Center Boulevard. Just at the corner of the hotel at Julia Street I saw our car sitting in a parking lot. There was a sign that said the lot was the property of the hotel. I thought to myself, Eight blocks? It’s more like eight feet from the hotel.
We continued on our merry way to Cafe Du Monde to have beignets with the rest of the tourists. About 10 o’clock, we headed back to the hotel, taking a ride on that weird and lonely red streetcar that runs along the Riverwalk. Just as we were approaching the hotel and that parking lot, I saw Heather talking to someone in our car through the passenger seat window. Dude was sitting in the driver seat. The car was running, the radio was on, and Heather said he had been checking out his phone when she tapped on the window and asked him what he was doing.
“I’m getting your car for you,” he said. “Someone called for it.” There was a couple of problems with this. First, everyone in our party had been down the street, filling up on fried dough and powdered sugar. If someone had called for it, it certainly wasn’t us. But the other problem was that there was this black Dodge pickup truck parked right in front of our car. There was no way Dude could have driven the car out of the lot. He was blocked in. As it was, the only way he was going to get it out was to fly it out. It didn’t make any sense, and since he was blocked in already, we walked back to the hotel.
Heather approached the manager about the weirdness. By Heather’s account, the lady was both “concerned and defensive.” She didn’t blow her off, but she spent a good amount of time trying to make a case for herself and her exceptional staff. Heather demanded that we not be charged for valet parking and was finally accommodated.
Perhaps we could have easily misread this situation, but the truck blocking the car’s movement kind of negated Dude’s claim. Then there’s the other claim he made about the car being parked eight blocks away which didn’t help his credibility either. I suspect Dude was just cold and was getting out of the wind for awhile, but I don’t really know what was going on. He’d already lied to me once, and my second encounter with him wasn’t any more reassuring. I have no idea either what that guy was up to or had been up to. Had he been cruising around New Orleans with the family ride, doing donuts in the French Quarter? I have no idea, and I probably never will.
But the thing that’s so irritating about this – aside from Dude hanging out in our car – is that the manager was defending this guy, in whatever it was he was up to. Whatever happened to the customer being right? Even if we had been some insane tourists decked out in giant Mardi Gras beads and goofy jester hats, shouldn’t the manager have assured us that everything would be taken care of, even if it was ignored as soon as we drove off of the hotel property?
Increasingly though, it feels like this is the kind of world we’re living in. People take complete and utter nonsense and tell you that it’s something else entirely. And they expect you to believe it. In fact, sometimes they can’t believe you’re not buying it. And when you don’t believe it, there’s another higher up there to reinforce the nonsense. It’s just doublespeak for doublethink, and it’s tiresome.
Sometimes all you can do is just pack your bags and hit the road.