I’m around all makes and models of cars in my job. It’s fun to drive them without having to make a monthly payment or haggle with a salesperson. I’ve learned some surprising things about the rental car business during my nearly 3 month time at Avis/Budget.
First, the rental car business is a much more complex business than I ever thought possible. Knoxville is a small market, yet we still handle hundreds of cars each and every day. Vehicles are staged at the Avis lot near the airport. There, workers clean the insides and wash the outsides. Then they are filled with gas. A set routine is demanded for the completion of each job, and if a car doesn’t pass muster, Mike sends it back for a second cleaning. That, however, doesn’t happen often since folks like Charlie have spent years making sure things are done right the first time.
Across Alcoa Highway, the Budget service center is located. It is there that all vehicles are serviced. Cory and Neff work on cars with surprising speed, and Hal oversees all the cars that arrive there. Most folks think that rental cars are driven until they simply fall apart. The truth is that the company takes care of them better than most private owners do. Part of each day is spent shuttling cars from the Avis to Budget lots for regular maintenance, replacement of some damaged parts, and recall orders. Then the vehicles are returned to locations in Knoxville for rental.
The workers are what make the job so enjoyable. During my teaching career, I was on my own when I closed my door. Contact with other teachers occurred during class changes, lunch, and planning period. On this job, I am with fellow workers for much of the day. We deliver cars to locations and then wait for a van to pick us up for another trip. I’ve made plenty of mistakes, especially during the first week. Guys like Jack, Ron, and Jim told me not to feel bad because they’d committed the same errors. On other occasions, they gave advice about the best way to complete a task. Such kindness from them shocked me.
Sometimes we have traveled to other cities to deliver cars, and then we pile into a van for the return trip. Friendships develop and grow as stories, jokes, and discussions arise. It’s crowded sometimes when eleven men try to fit into a twelve-passenger van. (Manufacturers calculate seat size the same way folks at Neyland Stadium do.) Still, we make the trip home tired, but not much worse for the wear.
If a person just walked into the Budget service center, he’d declare that havoc reigned. Yes, it turns hectic sometimes, but Nadine, John, and James, most of the time, manage to work out a way to get cars to the vendors in time for reservations. Even in all the chaos, I’m amazed at how they remain calm, something I could never do.
The offsite Budget rental centers are run by friendly folks. Sam, Fred, and Ted run the Clinton Highway store. Dave and Deborah are at Kingston Pike, Chris is at West Town, and Tony is at East Town. Every one of them is dedicated to helping customers. At the same time, they go out of their ways to be kind to us shuttlers. At one place we always look for a cookie or Rice Crispy square; at another we are offered bottles of cold water. Such kindness is appreciated and makes us want to meet their needs as best we can.
I work a couple of days a week and wake up each morning still enjoying the job. That has nothing to do with the employment but everything to do with the people with whom I work each day. Learning something from a vocation other than education is fun. Sharing the day with folks like Roy and Pat and Ray makes it even better. Sure, I’m tired at the end of the day, but I’m ready to go after a night’s sleep. All I can say is “thanks” to all who have made working a positive experience.
The brouhaha over Knox County Schools just keeps going. The school is led by a superintendent who has minimal experience in the classroom and is a numbers guy who cares most about the bottom line. The board
My wife lost her job last year, and although I vowed never to work in schools again, I swallowed my pride and applied to substitute in high schools close to home. Hey, I knew how to teach; after 30 years of working in a Knox County classroom, I figured I could babysit kids for a day every so often.
I completed the on-line application, and after some time, I completed some kind of profile test on the computer. The system’s website informed me that I would be contacted if I met the criteria, or something to that effect.
As of today, I’ve never heard a word from Knox County Schools, its website, or its human resources department. Now, most companies will send out a “thanks-but-no-thanks” letter to let applicants know they’ve been turned down. That’s not the way it goes with our local school system. I suppose the powers that be have decided that ignoring candidates is the best way of letting them know they’re not wanted or not qualified.
Not qualified—that’s a sore spot with me. As I said, I spent a career in high school classrooms at Doyle High School and Karns High School. Over the years, I worked hard and demanded much from my students. I don’t fool myself into thinking that every student, parent, teacher, and principal liked me. The truth is that I wasn’t in teaching for a popularity contest; I wanted to prepare students for what lay before them in college.
My evaluations were all good. I never cared if “big dogs” visited my classroom. I managed to complete the dog-and-pony shows when evaluators dropped in. That meant filling out the forms using my best educational jargon and making sure I covered each area of the teaching process that administrators and supervisors deemed important. When the whole thing was finished, I went back to teaching in the way I knew worked.
God makes sure we humans don’t make too many mistakes, and I give thanks He made sure I didn’t return to the schools in a substitute role or any other position. Still, it’s flabbergasts me that I now am not qualified to substitute teach, even though I was a teacher in the system for so long.
More prayers of thanks are sent above for my leaving the profession before this superintendent and others screwed up the profession. Testing, whether it’s demanded by an out-of-touch head of schools, windy politicians, or governing school boards, is ruining education. Yes, student progress needs to be assessed, but the main function of education is to teach children how to think, read, and express. At the same time, things like band, choir, and art are important components of a well-rounded education and individual.
When 6.5% of the workforce leaves, it might be self-serving to say it’s normal turnover in the organization. However, when teachers resign because they can no longer put up with the absurd demands of testing and evaluations and impossibility of performing their duties, the times has come for the public to demand answers and changes from the board and from the incompetent leader. Of course, these folks will only spread the manure about how great schools are, how committed to excellence they are, and how willing they are to listen. Don’t believe it for one second.
So, I am lucky that the school system decided that after 30 years I wasn’t worthy of substituting. I am thankful that my children have gone through the system already and have managed to earn college degrees and enter the workforce. Were shortcomings present then? Yes! Even so, many students received quality education from teachers who enjoyed their jobs. These days, the teaching profession is something to avoid. That’s because the leaders think they know better what schools should do, even if they have no field experience. It’s a situation that grows sadder and sadder.
A couple of weeks ago, I visited a friend on Saturday morning. After a good visit, I hopped into my car and felt as if I’d just exited a time warp. It brought back some memories about the weekends that weren’t all that exciting.
The woman met me at the door that Saturday with her hair rolled tightly into curls and set with a combination of small rollers, “spoolies,” and bobby pins. Her appearance brought back visions of my mother
Saturday for us boys began with breakfasts of pancakes and bacon. We’d gobble the food down and wait for the sugar high to hit in front of the television. There we watched cartoons and waited for commercials that previewed the most popular toys for the year. The sugar soon burned off and left us lethargic and sleepy.
Before long, Mother lost patience and heavy footed it down the hall. We knew house cleaning time was at hand. The house was divided into three areas, and each of us was responsible for vacuuming, dusting, and cleaning every inch of those places. We boys took turns with the vacuum; every one of us hoped that we wouldn’t be last because that meant we had to empty the tank that contained water and yucky stuff that had been sucked into it.
By mid-afternoon, we’d finished, and the rest of the day belonged to us. Most often, Jim and I found something outside to keep us busy. Board games never had any appeal because they required sitting still. Not much went on in Ball Camp, and many times we were bored. It was during those times that we took shovels to dig for treasure, or we loaded our arms with tools and found scrap boards to build something. Not a single project ever worked out, even though we hammered and bent a keg of nails in putting it together.
At some time during the afternoon, Daddy summoned us to the house. It was time to shine our shoes for church. We first used liquid polish before graduating to the small, thin containers whose contents were spread with a rag and then buffed with a brush. Daddy demanded that our shoes look good because he didn’t like boys with “long hair and dirty shoes.”
As evening arrived, we took turns taking baths. I still marvel at how a family of five survived with one bathroom and a bathtub without a shower. That done, everyone gathered in the living room for an evening of
and “Perry Como” were Mother’s favorites. Then all the males got set for the
weekly installment of “Gunsmoke.” Dinah Shore
television watching. “
television watching. “
Throughout the shows, Mother stood at the ironing board and finished a basketful of items. She wilted in the heat of the steam and late hour of the day. Spread in the room
By the time I’d driven home from the neighbor’s house that day, I felt the sting of losing both parents and an older brother. While memories of that time are vivid, I admit to liking Saturdays with their offerings for activities and chores much more now. Still, it was nice to experience a bit of déjà vu in the same neighborhood of my childhood.