An introduction to the AganeAndAgane programming language. Thanks Assaf.
On our recent trip, we had to rent a trailer to haul back some furniture. I’ve always hated dealing with U-haul, but scarcity rules the market for one-way trailer rentals, overriding any concerns about quality and customer service.
Here’s a trick I learned last time we rented a trailer: the price depends on where you reserve it. We were staying in Roseville, California. There are hundreds of U-haul dealers in the surrounding area. But by reserving our trailer in Placerville (about an hour’s drive away), it costs almost $100 less. U-haul’s pricing appears to be based on the demand in a given area. But get this: if a trailer is not available at the reserved location on the day you for which you reserved it, they’ll send you to another location to get it. They call you the day before to let you know where your trailer will be. Quite likely, it will be in a more populated area, where they get more rentals coming and going. In our case, we were able to pick up our trailer in Folsom, which was only 20 minutes away. But since we reserved it in Placerville, we got it for the Placerville price.
When I received the call from U-haul Central, I immediately phoned the pick-up location (Folsom Dam Auto Repair) to see what time they opened the next day. A gravelly voice answered the phone. I mentioned that I was scheduled to pick up a trailer there the next day, at which point he cut me off with “then call U-Haul, their number is 989-1266″ and hung up.
So, I called that number. A lady answered, and I asked her what time I could pick up my trailer. “9 o’clock,” she answered abruptly.
Since we had a long day of packing ahead, I asked her if it were possible for me to come any earlier. She hurriedly told me that she had to dedicate the hours prior to 9:00 to getting trucks out the door and that she almost never did trailers before 10:00. So, I accepted 9:00.
The next day, 9AM sharp, I arrive. The same lady is standing behind the counter, busy as a tax evader preparing for an audit. There’s a line of customers, so I get in the queue and start looking around. There’s a man standing beside her behind the desk who doesn’t seem to have much to do, while she’s working like mad to serve customers. When he answers the phone “Folsom Dam Auto Repair”, I realize that this is the same man who made me call the other phone the night before, when he was standing right beside it! Jerk!
Watching the dynamics between this pair, I notice that every time the lady asks the man for a little help it comes begrudgingly, as if he doesn’t have time for this U-haul nonsense. Then I start speculating: perhaps what we have here is a married couple. He started this auto repair business, then later made some space for her to open a side business in U-haul rentals. His repair gig isn’t bringing in nearly as many customers as the rentals, and that fact is getting under his skin daily and tattooing a scowl on his face. Just my theory.
As my legs grow tired from waiting in line, I start noticing all the papers tacked to the wall. Lots and lots of things that the customer must not do. “No checks.” “No overnight parking.” “No exceptions.” Besides those, some “humorous” pieces, mostly concerning all the stupid things customers do, or the ways in which they abuse the owners of this establishment. Not a very customer-friendly setting. Geez, if you don’t like customers, maybe you shouldn’t be in this business.
When the lady finally gets around to me and quickly processes my paperwork, she turns to the man and asks him to get the trailer for me. Oh boy. He storms quickly out the door without so much as a “follow me”, so I hurry along behind. He barks back at me to get my vehicle. While I’m still backing it into place he comes up with the tongue of the trailer and plops it down on my hitch.
The lady had given me a checklist to mark any existing damage. Since I didn’t opt for the insurance, I went over the trailer thoroughly, marking down even the least little scratch or dent, of which there were unsurprisingly many. By the time I was done with that, Mr. Notimeforyou had finished hooking up the trailer and had hurried back inside. I took a look at his handiwork. We’ve rented several trailers over the last year, so I knew what to expect. The electrical connectors were together — I pushed on them to make sure they were seated. Chains crossed under the tongue — good. Count the blankets, return the checklist, and off I go.
Not until about an hour later do I realize that I never tested the trailer’s taillights. Usually the rental agent walks you through that — you press the brakes, turn on the lights, and work the signals while he/she watches the trailer lights. But this fellow had huffed off too quickly. So, I ask my lovely wife to be my assistant. She berates me for not making them check this before I left the place, and stands behind the trailer waiting for the lights that, of course, do not illuminate anything other than her point.
Rechecking the connection, I notice that the leads from the connector end up in a not of cables around the tongue. Parsing that, I find that they all reach female dead ends. But oh joy, there are also male ends that connect into the trailer! But oh crap, there are four females and six males, and the colors don’t match. Realizing that I would probably burn up something before I figured this out by trial and error, I decide to call our good friends at Folsom Dam Auto Repair.
Mr. Gravelgrowler answers. At first he wouldn’t believe me. But after I described the situation in highly colorful terms, he told me to bring it back and he would look at it. I’m too far away to make that practical, says I, just tell me what lead goes to what. Mr. Impatience replies, “Thewhitestothebrownstheblacktoeithertheyelloworthegreenifthesignalsarereversedthenswitchem. Ignorethetwogreenswedontuseem.” And with that, he hung up.
So I hooked the leads up according to his crystal clear directions and got back in the cab while my wife watched the lights. Or lack thereof.
Calling back again, I get the lady. She goes over the connections with me more slowly. It turns out that besides having colored wires, the connectors themselves are also color-coded somewhat more simply: black to black and white to white. Duh. This time, she stays on the line while we check again. No joy.
“Honestly, sir”, she said, confirming the dishonesty of everything up to this point, “I think you must have a fuse blown in your van.”
“No way.” (Yes way, thinks I. Being a techie, I know how things can fail at the most frustratingly coincidental junctures, but I’m not saying that out loud.) “Where’s the nearest U-haul to my location. I’ll get them to check it over.”
Only a couple of blocks away, we pull the trailer up to a shack almost under the freeway. As I’m getting out of the van, my techie-problem-solver mind starts asking the obligatory stupid questions. I didn’t actually see the lights not working myself, I relied on my wife for that. But if I were to ask her to switch places to confirm, she’d be majorly ticked. After all, I’m the stupid one here for not checking the lights at the dealer. Better let this run its course.
Inside the shack, a nice Pakistani man greets me. When I explain the situation, he immediately goes to a cabinet and gets his meter, then follows me to the trailer. I turn on the signal and say, “See?”
It’s working, natch.
So I run to the back of the trailer and look around the corner, and I see a dead light. He points to the one at the top. It’s blinking.
“The top or the bottom lights can be connected. For highway, top is better.”
Together we check all of the lights. I thank him profusely, and off we go.
After our journey was over more than two days later, I took the trailer to the nearest U-haul to drop it off. My ten-year-old daughter accompanied me. As I was unhooking the connections, she pointed to a sticker on the back portion of the tongue. It was a wiring diagram that even she could follow.
“I don’t believe it,” I said.
“But there it is, Daddy!”
“I know. I still don’t believe it. You’ll no doubt have the pleasure of telling Mommy.”
“She’ll call you an idiot.”
But she didn’t. She didn’t need to.
An IM conversation between apotheon and me, picking up after apotheon takes pity on me for using Outlook as my e-mail client:
Chip: Yep. Running in the Kentucky derby on a jousting horse in full mail
I like the image.
apotheon: Considering how often one loses one’s work in something like Outlook, I’d expect a comment about a “draft” horse.
Chip: LMAO good one
apotheon: could maybe mention a bronco, on accounta all the “bucks” involved with Outlook’s TCO
apotheon: I should just stop horsing around, now.
I wouldn’t want to saddle you with the permanent trauma of having endured too many of my puns.
Chip: this is becoming a blog post
/me steeples his fingers in classic supervillain style.
(yes, even that pun was intended)
apotheon was trying to post a comment, because Blogger apparently does not support pingback from this post.
Sticking with Blogger will likely reduce your chances of getting links, if it doesn’t provide any means for auto-reciprocation.
From apotheon: “Here’s a nickel, kid. Get yourself a real blog.” I’ll second that.
For about 14 hours tomorrow, this will be my prison — shared with two bored, whining children and one overstressed wife, while Disney DVD’s play in the background and I-5 stretches ahead in the foreground, punctuated by periodic stops for bathroom and Denny’s.
The good news is: I’m driving.
But I won’t be blogging.
Be back Tuesday. We’ll see if I can still talk and think when I return. Have a nice weekend.
Crap. I’ve been behind on my reading, and I missed this comment thread on Monday — but I could almost feel it coming for months. Randy and TDavid both have strong opinions, and they stand just far enough apart on some issues that an outstretched hand can easily resemble a pointed finger.
Oh, well. Both of you guys have given me tons of help to get my bloglegs. You’re both still on my blogroll, and I consider each of you my friend.
And I’m not including any images on this post, just so I don’t have to decide how to host them.
We don’t do movie theaters much anymore anyway. Why would we want to drive downtown and drop $50 for crappy snacks and an only slightly better screen and sound system than we have at home, when we could wait a few months to rent the DVD? More comfortable chairs, food of choice, alcoholic beverages, bathroom breaks, nobody blocking the view or elbowing you, no sticky floors (don’t go there!), and it costs less.
Even so, we rent maybe 10 movies a year. Most of what’s out there is just so much time consumption.