By Dave Lindorff
My wife Joyce and I were renting a car for the week this morning at a Hertz office just outside Philadelphia. There was a line of people either waiting to pick up a vehicle, or to return one.
The harried clerk behind the counter -- the only guy in the office -- was fielding calls while trying to serve the first guy in line, who was trying to rent a car for a vacation trip with his wife to North Carolina's Outer Banks. No sooner would the poor clerk sit down at the computer to start typing in the information from the man's driver's license than the phone would ring -- a phone that was located on a desk in a cubicle behind him, requiring him to get up and run around to the back cubicle.
The man at the counter, and others in the line, sighed audibly.
The clerk rolled his eyes in apology as he explained to the caller that he was backed up in the office, and would have to call her back. There was a pause, and he said into the phone calmly, "Within the hour. I promise."
Then he came back to the counter, apologizing. The phone rang again. He ran back to the phone and fielded this second call, again saying he'd have to call the person back.
The man at the counter, likely a college professor judging by his baseball cap, which had embossed on the side "Penn Relays Official," observed to no one in particular, "Here it is: the New American Economy."
I said, "You got that right!"