I thought it was a good idea. I mean, what could go wrong when traveling alone with a 10-month-old?

I recently flew to Florida to meet Katie Jo and our son for a vacation, and since she had to return to Atlanta before me, I rented a car to bring my son and I home. Upon arrival in Atlanta, my thinking was that I'd drive to my car at the airport, transfer the luggage, and then return the rental. Best laid plans…

First, my Park and Ride lot was closed. All the gates, oddly, were lowered on a Saturday afternoon, so I was forced to take the packed rental to Enterprise. An employee suggested they take me to my car in the rental so I wouldn’t have to deal with the luggage and baby twice, for which I was relieved.

As we left, their driver asked, “Where are we going?” I showed him my parking ticket, and he responded by asking me the same question. I pointed in the general direction of the lot, but the system of one-way streets around the airport prevented us from going out the way I came in. He made a few turns, which took us off the main path, then pulled into a gas station.

“You go in and ask.”

“Excuse me?” I responded, shocked.

“You go in and ask,” he said, pointing to the entrance.

I asked him how would the gas station attendant know the way any better than he did, especially since he worked at the airport? I also reminded him my son was in the car, and there was no way I was leaving without him or wrestling him out of the car seat for what I knew was a fruitless venture.

In frustration, I signaled him to go back to Enterprise so I could figure things out back there. He followed my instructions, parked in the rental lot and got out of the still-running car without a word.

"Perfect storm" is a term that describes the devastating result when separate forces come together in a pretty dramatic clash. For me the fact I had been up part of the night with a teething child, had been on the road all morning, and had no idea how I was going to get my carload of items—or us—home opened up the floodgates. I became that mother, the one who pitches a fit in public, and in a half-yell/half-cry kind of way.

I exited the car shortly after my respectful driver and began addressing a manager in my range of vision. I didn’t move toward her; I yelled at her as I opened the car doors and began pulling my bags to the curb. I was letting her and everyone else know I would simply sit there with my kid and call a cab, since I just wanted to be home and would figure out how to come back and get my car later.

The manager, Kiley Kirkpatrick, wasn’t going to have that. She braved my hysterical rant, putting my bags back in the rental. Kiley took my parking ticket, called the lot, put its exact address in her GPS, and took me there herself. She physically moved a lowered gate, got me in, and entertained Mr. Carter until I'd emptied the rental.

Can one person make a difference? Absolutely. Kiley went above and beyond for an agitated customer I’m sure she would have rather avoided, and in doing so, made sure I’ll rent with Enterprise again.

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