Hi again. I have had so much roiling up inside, I just had to get this all out…so here goes:
The Bad: I will never rent a car from Enterprise Car Rentals again. Why do I say this? Recently, I had to travel to Charlottetown PEI on business. Drive up, stay overnight, drive back the next day. Simple, right? HA! As an employee of EC, we are expected to use rental cars rather than our own personal cars for travel, so 3 weeks prior to my travel dates, I had reserved a car with Enterprise, and when they asked my car preference, I said I was not particularly fussy, except that the car had to have cruise control. (For me, with MS, cruise is vital on long drives, because otherwise my legs cramp up and I have more pain.) No problem, I was told. Well, the day I arrived to pick up the car, it was quite a messy winter snow day. They put me in a tiny hatchback…with NO cruise control. When I explained that I had requested cruise, they said they cannot every guarantee that…and they had no other cars to put me in. I should have switched companies right there, but seeing as I had a presentation to give in PEI later that afternoon, I figured it was not worth the fuss. The best the girl at the kiosk did was hand me a pamphlet and tell me I could call ahead and maybe the towns along the way may have another car at their Enterprise locations. I was somewhat stunned and frustrated, so I got in the car to be on my way, not pleased with the service. AS I got onto the highway, I called the girl and told HER to call ahead and find me a car with cruise…as she should have done in the first place before I ever got on the road, without me having to prompt her!
The Ugly: That brings us to the ugly…the weather and what happened next. The weather was a messy wet snow day, so winter driving conditions were in effect. As I was driving on the highway between Halifax and Truro, the wind shield wipers on this car were not working properly, clearing only a small portion on the driver’s side (the bottom 3 inches, and about 4 inches at the top). At this point, I got angry – I called the Enterprise kiosk girl back, and told her that she had put me in a death-trap, and she had better find me another car in Truro, because I could not safely drive further than that. She phoned around, then called me back and made suggestions like turning around and coming back to wait for a car becuase they might have one at 3PM (no safe place to turn on the highway, and I had a timeline that was already slowed by the weather, and my presentation was at 3PM). She told me they had nothing available anywhere…but if I could make it to Amherst, they might have one there later. At this point I became infuriated – because anyone who lives in Nova Scotia knows that the stretch of road between Truro and Amherst can be treacherous at the best of times, let alone if the weather is bad and you are driving a car that is not functioning properly! At that point, I told her I was switching companies in Truro – because otherwise I would not make it to my destination alive. I have traveled on business for over 18 years as a meteorologist, and I have never had service so bad. My sweet Kim called ahead to Truro from his house, and he found me a proper car in the local Budget Rentals at Truro.
The Good: The brings us to the good. Budget Rentals was fantastic – they set me up with a car immediately, and allowed me to leave the Enterprise death-trap car on their lot, contacting the local Enterprise people to get it later. (Enterprise agreed to not charge me for the original car rental, and the next day had another death-trap car ready for my return leg to get back to Halifax from Truro…frankly it was the very least they could do.) So, stressed and already frustrated and fatigued, I got back on the road for the final two-thirds leg of my trip. The weather and roads were messy – but the new car had cruise control and wind sheild wipers that worked wonderfully!! (Thank you Budget Rentals!) Once I got to Charlottetown (with only 30 minutes to spare before my presentation), I quickly checked in at my hotel.What a wonderful and pleasant surprise! I stayed at The Great George, and I can honestly say that I will never stay anywhere else again when I travel to Charlottetown PEI. They were absolutely wonderful – with gorgeous rooms, attentive service, extremely helpful and friendly staff. The staff and atmosphere of the Great George turned a trip from help into a very pleasant experience! (Thank you, Great George!)
The Rant: Having MS, or any kind of disability, often makes life very topsy-turvy and brings out interesting reactions in yourself and those around you. In recent weeks and months, I have been going through new changes and developments in my health, with debilitating fatigue and scary cognitive issues. I am struggling through it as best I can, and I am recognizing that the cognitive stuff has really thrown me – upsetting my self-esteem, my confidence, and basically making me question every aspect of my life. I am having to figure out how to re-map all aspects of my life, from home to work, as I struggle to accommodate and understand the changes in me, and undergo testing to determine where my MS is at. What is driving me crazy and making me appreciative at the same time is the way people now treat me – from almost wanting to put me in a velvet box so I don’t get hurt, to simply not “getting it”, and expecting me to continue functioning as I did before, at 200%. People keep telling me to slow down, that I look tired, that I shouldn’t be doing this or that or the other thing. When I say that I can, I get these looks (I call them the raised-eyebrows of uncertainty) – and I feel like people are questioning my judgment and even my ability to make any good judgments.
Part of me wants to rage and scream, the other part of me wants to quietly hole up in a little corner and lick my wounds. I understand what’s going on, and can see the good intentions and caring of the people around me, but there’s a part of me that just feels trapped and cornered: pigeon-holed by the disease itself (which forces me to make changes, ready or not), and by the well-intentioned efforts and attitudes of the people around me (basically wanting to protect me from the disease and from myself). Intellectually, I understand all of this, and am very grateful for the supports I have around me. Emotionally, I am shaken to the core, screaming and crying inside, and raging against the disease and myself, as I try to figure out where I belong in my own world, feeling lost and confused about my present and my future.
But, I am still me, and I am using my instinctive ability to remain calm in the face of change and challenge, create and follow a plan, with the ability to be flexible, as I travel this new road, learning how to adapt and cope. I have never been one to run from a challenge – I always face it head-on, even if sometimes I have to hunker down and lick my wounds before I get going again. So I say to myself, and those around me – trust me, trust that I do learn from past experience, trust my judgment as I learn, and trust me to forge ahead in a new way of life to preserve my health. And in turn, I will trust that all is as it should be.