living and learning…

Sometimes you can be too clever for your own good. We learned that upon arriving in Norfolk on Wednesday night (technically Thursday morning). We had this genius plan that involved staying in Norfolk Wednesday and then driving to the Outer Banks Thursday morning. We’re all about saving money, so we decided not to rent the car until Thursday and just stay in a place close enough to the airport that it would have a complimentary shuttle.

We found such a place and then discovered that the shuttle didn’t run in the wee hours of the morning when we’d be arriving (think 1:00am). No problem, we’d just take a taxi to the hotel Wednesday for around $10 and take the shuttle back to the airport Thursday morning to retrieve our rental car. It would still be cheaper than having the car for an extra night.

After gathering our bags, we made our way outside to the taxi line. A man asked if we needed a taxi and I told him that we did and asked if they took credit cards because if they didn’t, we’d need to go back inside to find an ATM (we hardly ever carry cash). He said yes, they would take a credit card. Sweet. The cab driver popped the trunk and Nathan put our luggage inside. Then a cute little old lady in a straw hat emerged from the driver’s seat. I thought to myself, oh good. A nice little lady to drive us to our hotel. She came around the back of the car and asked where we were headed. I gave her the address and then verified that she would accept credit cars.

She barked, “For that short a distance?”

“Oh, I’m sorry, I don’t know how far it is,” I said. She walked to the driver’s seat and got in, so we followed, but the atmosphere was tense. We drove to the hotel in complete silence, but I gave her the benefit of the doubt because it was late and maybe she was just tired? Then we pulled into the parking lot and had the following conversation:

Ms. Cranky Pants: Did the hotel tell you to take a cab?

Nathan: Um, yes. I suppose so. They have a shuttle but it doesn’t run this late.

Ms. Cranky Pants: So are they going to pay for this then?

Nathan: No, I don’t believe so. No.

Ms. Cranky Pants: Well if they told you to take a taxi, they might pay for it.

Nathan: Well it just said on their website that the shuttle doesn’t run at this hour and a taxi would be around $10.   (The meter read $9.30 when we pulled in)

Ms. Cranky Pants: Well go in and ask them.

Nathan: No, it’s really ok. I’m sure they won’t pay for it, can’t we just use our card?

She then grumbles something under her breath, pulls out a clipboard and demands our name and phone number. Apparently she needs that for all card-paying customers. Whatever, we give it to her and she runs the credit card. We get out of the car as quickly as we can (not before being yelled at because she hasn’t given us our receipt yet) and hurry inside. Welcome to freaking Virginia, huh?

And the irony to the whole story? Well we call for a shuttle the next morning and are informed that it broke down that morning and we’d have to take a taxi back to the airport. Greaaat! And the taxi took a full 40 minutes beyond the time that we requested it for. So we saved no money and no time. The upside was that our driver was extremely friendly. He asked right away if we’d be using cash or credit, offered us a soda or water free of charge and chatted with us all the way there.

Anyway, lesson learned: never trust little old ladies always have cash available for cab fares, or better yet, just pay the extra bit of money and get the rental car immediately!