A Customer Service Save

I have two usual routes for getting from Cape to West Palm Beach, depending on my mood. If I want to take the scenic route, I’ll go Cape to Cairo to Wickliffe to Mayfield (KY) to Benton (KY) to Cadiz (KY) south on I-24 to Nashville, where I’ll pick up I-65 to Birmingham and Montgomery. There, I’ll get off the Interstate and cut through Dothan, (AL) until I cross over the Florida line at Mariana. If it’s a busy holiday weekend or bad weather with lots of traffic, I’ll ride I-10 to just east of Tallahassee, where I’ll drop down the center of the state on U.S. 27. Traffic’s generally not as heavy nor as crazy as on the Interstate. In the days when the speed limit was 55 mph, that was my preferred route because I could run about as fast there as the Big Road and there were fewer speed cops.

If I just want to make speed, it’s I-24 to Nashville, climb over Monteagle Pass, then pick up I-75 in Chattanooga and blast on through Atlanta until I pick up the Florida Turnpike in Wildwood, which takes me all the way home. I guess I should amend that. I’ve never “blasted” through Atlanta. Every time I go through that town, I’m more convinced than ever that General Sherman had the right idea.

(By the way the Cadiz sign above has nothing to do with the story. It’s on a nice family-style restaurant off the main drag. I just wanted something that said “Cadiz.” You can click on any of the pix to make them larger.)

All roads lead through Cadiz

All of those routes take me through Cadiz, which is about the place to gas up no matter whether I’m heading west to Cape or east to Florida. I’ve been hitting the same Shell station for probably 20 years. It used to be on the north side of the road, but has moved to the south side and has added a nice gift shop. Many moons ago I won 50 or 75 bucks on a scratch-off lottery ticket, so I always buy another try and pick up some local Kentucky Lake area newspapers. They also have clean bathrooms.

Great, they’re the cheapest station

So, when I was eastbound home and saw my tank was getting lean, I looked at the gas prices signs. Good, my preferred station was $3.59 and the two other stations were a dime higher.

When I stuck the nozzle into my tank, though, I saw the pump price was $3.69, not $3.59. Some stations display a higher price if you don’t pay cash or use a company credit card. I pressed the go button. The price didn’t adjust downward. While it was still dinging away, I walked¬† back to look at the sign and take a picture of it. Yep, it showed $3.59 to eastbound traffic. Curiously, though, it showed $3.69 to the westbound folks.

When the pump shut off, my receipt showed that 15.127 gallons had been pumped at a cost of $3.699 per gallon for a total of $55.95.

“Oh, the sign is wrong”

I went inside to speak with Nice Cashier who said, “Oh, yes, that sign has been wrong for about a month. We keep reporting it, but nobody comes to fix it.”

“That’s not my problem. I pulled in here because I’ve been doing business with you for years and because your advertised price was a dime less than the other stations at this location. I want a refund for the difference.”

“I can’t do that. My drawer would be out of balance.”

“Who CAN do something about it?”

“You’ll have to call this 800-number.” I did. After I had explained the situation to Very Nice Woman, she asked to speak to the cashier. The cashier asked if it would be OK if she walked outside with my phone. I followed her and watched as she looked at the sign and at the pump. She verified what she saw to the woman on the phone (mouthing to me “I believed you”).

How about putting a check in the mail?

Very Nice Lady on phone said SHE wasn’t authorized to give me a refund, but she’d have her boss call me. I said, “Look, we’re only talking about a buck-fifty-one here. I don’t want to have a conversation with anybody while I’m rocketing down the road at 78 miles per hour. How about when I get home in a week I’ll find a letter in the mail containing $1.51, and I won’t have to research which Kentucky agency deals with misleading advertising at gas stations.”

I got home and waited nine days for my letter. Three days ago, I called the station in Cadiz and asked, “Anybody fix your sign yet?” The answer was no.

I called the 800-number, but Very Nice Lady was on vacation. I was put through to Gerald White, vice president of MaxfuelXpress. We had a pleasant chat where he said that somebody should have just given me the lousy $1.51 (not his exact words, but it came across.that way).

He gave me his personal assurance that a check would be in the mail to me that very afternoon. “By the way,” I told him, “the station says your sign is still showing the wrong price today.”

The check WAS in the mail

True to his word, the mail came today. It contained a check for $1.51, along with the following letter: “Thank you for taking the time and effort to let me know about our poor service with the sign and price at the pump at Broadbent’s Shell convenience store. Please accept my sincere apology and this check for the difference in price. I am embarrassed that it took this long for it to be rectified and really appreciate you giving me the chance to make it right. Please do not hesitate to contact me on any further issues.”

So, I guess I’ll be gassing up at Broadbent’s Shell on my next trip through, replenishing my stash of junk food, picking up a couple of local papers and hoping lottery lightning hits again. Had the mail not come, you’d have been reading a much different ending. Thank you, Mr. White. Good luck on the sign.

Bridges and Goodbyes

I really enjoyed my visit to Cape, but it was time to get back to Florida. Judge Bill Hopkins said he had gotten a call from Wife Lila asking how long I had to be gone before she could have me declared legally dead.

Since I was headed that way, Mother said she’d follow me in her car (for the record, she may be 90, but she’s still a good driver) over to her trailer on Kentucky Lake so I could help her turn on the water and check for any problems.

Not surprisingly, it took me longer than anticipated to get everything loaded in my van. Because of the late start, we didn’t waste any time sightseeing along the way. I did bang off a couple of frames as we headed over the Ohio River bridge leaving Cairo for Wickliffe. You can tell that it’s about as wide as the old Cape Mississippi River Bridge (plus it’s got that crazy 90-degree bend on the Kentucky end).

35 years

The pipes at the trailer froze winter before last, so she had to have them replaced. When I went to turn on the water, nothing happened. After much head scratching and mosquito swatting, I discovered that they had moved the main shutoff valve. I decided to stay there overnight instead of pressing on to Nashville as I had planned.

By coincidence, we were there on August 7, 35 years to the day when Dad had a heart attack at the lake and died. When folks posted stories this week about it being the week that Elvis died, I tell ’em that my dad died that week too; the difference is that I don’t miss Elvis.

We were going to eat breakfast, but the place we planned on stopping at was closed, so we said our goodbyes at a gas station. I’m getting a little better at the teenage girl self-portrait thing. My arm must be getting longer.

More narrow bridges

I’m glad I’m not pulling a travel trailer or driving an 18-wheeler. These bridges linking sections of the Land Between the Lakes are narrow and showing their age. At one time, I could have told you what body of water these cross, but I have long ago jettisoned that knowledge.

I covered the aftermath of the Silver Bridge collapse on Dec. 15, 1967. The eyebar-chain suspension bridge linking Point Pleasant, W Va., and Gallipolis, Oh., failed while it was filled with rush-hour holiday shoppers. Forty-six people died in the icy waters of the Ohio River.

When I cross a bridge with a lot of rust on it, I wonder whether it’s cosmetic or whether it’s another Silver Bridge waiting to happen.

Photo gallery of Kentucky bridges

I think the shadows of the bridge structure are interesting. I have to admit I wasn’t doing any careful composing. I was just holding the camera with one hand and trying to keep from scraping the bridge railing with the other. I didn’t see the shadows until I saw them on the computer screen. Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.



Holy Cow! Ice Falls from Sky

Mother and I had to journey over to Kentucky Lake this morning to meet a plumber who was going to winterize her trailer.

For you Sunbelt Readers (I’m talking to YOU, Jan), that’s where you drain all of the water out of the pipes, then blow antifreeze in them until pink stuff spews out the faucets. You drain the toilet bowls and put antifreeze in them, too. If you don’t, and if you don’t have heat turned on, the freezing water in the pipes will expand and cause them to burst. The purpose of pipes is to keep liquid inside them. Pipes that have burst fail in that purpose, as we found out when I turned the water on this spring. It is an unpleasant and expensive thing to fix.

You can click on the photo to make it larger. I actually like it. For the record I did NOT put those leaves there. Sometimes I think there’s a Higher Power who looks at a Florida photographer with sleet bouncing off his follically-challenged head and says, “You know, I’m gonna cut him some slack:’ Leaf, it’s time for you to go anyway, land where it’ll do him some good.'”

Foggy, rainy, cold

When we left Cape around 8:30 a.m. it was foggy, misting rain and about 38 degrees. On the way to the lake, it alternated between misting and pouring. Creeks were running out of their banks, so Illinois and Kentucky must have gotten a lot more rain than we did. By the time we got to the trailer, the temperature had dropped to 35 and the rain looked like it might have something mixed in it. I started raking and blowing leaves to get them off the deck and away from the trailer. I spent two weeks in Seattle and didn’t get a drop of water on my new Marmot Precip Rain Jacket, but it paid for itself today. I stayed dry and reasonably warm and the built-in hood kept water from running down my neck.

The only problem with blowing wet leaves off the north side of the deck when the winds are gusting to 36 mph FROM the north is that the wind hits the side of the desk causing an updraft. That carries your blown leaves up in the air. Then the north wind blowing horizontally flings the leaves right back at you. It was a lot more fun for somebody to watch than it was for me to do it.

What’s that blue stuff on the radar?

While we were waiting for the plumber to do his magic, I called up the radar and saw that we were surrounded by blue. We don’t get any blue on our radar in Florida, so I had to look at the legend. It said it was snowing on us. I didn’t see how it could snow in a rain storm, so I didn’t get excited.

Then I switched over to Facebook and saw that KFVS had asked people to submit their photos of ice, snow and slush. There were a gazillion comments from people reporting snow, freezing rain, slush and ice pellets. This sounded Not Good. We saddled up the pony and headed back home, still not expecting much more than rain.

About 40 miles from Cape, I started seeing suspiciously large raindrops that floated. The closer we got to Missouri, the more ice pellets and snowflakes we saw. When we pulled into the driveway at about 4 p.m., the snow was falling like crazy. We unloaded the car, and I walked over to my van, which had been sitting since yesterday. It reinforced those signs you see that say, “Bridges Freeze First:” the hood and windshield were coated with the slush you see above.

So, in the space of less than eight hours, we saw just about every form of Missouri weather short of sunshine, hail and a tornado.

Winters past

I’ve done several winter-weather related posts.

Where Did 36 Years Go?

September 27, 1975, I pulled out my company two-way radio and announced the arrival of Matthew Louis Steinhoff. The next stop was to apply a bumper sticker I had custom made.

Newspaper announcement

In keeping with the newspaper theme, a couple of the gals in the Art Department put together this front page mockup. (Don’t try to read the stories. They pulled random real copy out of the paper to fill the space.)

Time flies when you’re having family

The photo gallery will show how quickly time passes. We survived swim meets (he was Rookie of the Year when he was five); photo contests, Scouts, high school and his move to Orlando to work for The Orlando Sentinel (and his move back to Palm Beach Gardens). Along the way, he met and married Sarah, one of the two best daughter-in-laws any parents could hope for. (Son Adam snagged Carly, the other keeper).

Matt and Sarah have their own Tiger Scout now, seven-year-old Malcolm, and Adam and Carly have started their family with Graham, who was born in February.

How do you pick through 36 years of photos?

Wife Lila looked at my photo picks and kept saying, “You missed that one. You have one with your Dad, but not your Mother. You left out …. How about….?”

My only answer was, “This ain’t his last birthday.” Scores of photos come to mind, but I went with some new ones I discovered this week going through old slide trays. Mixed in are some oldies that are favorites (or, to be honest, were easy for me to find.)

Wish Matt a Happy Birthday

Here’s a quick overview of Matthew Louis Steinhoff. Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery. Don’t worry. We’ll add to the collection next BDay. I’ll be sure to have one of Mother in that batch.