Sydney, New South Whales, Australia.
So I owed you another story. I normally don’t tell stories from ‘the past’ and this one happened last Wednesday, almost a week ago and therefore pretty much ancient history (time flies). I wanted to write it down last Friday, the day the weekly update goes out to the people on my mailing list (please join if you would like to keep updated).
I had paid the family in Buderim another visit, said goodbye and was now on my way back to Sydney. I would come pass Brisbane in 45 minutes and I remembered that the head quarters of hippiecamper.com were in that city. The problems that I had with them were never really settled. As I told before at the beginning of my trip there was a problem with my credit card and the sales person implied I had insufficient funds or my limit was not high enough. After leaving the office without the van and contacting my bank this turned out to be not true. But the next day the credit card failed again and as a final resort I opted for a higher insurance with a lower bond which raised the total sum from an initial $515,- with a whopping $324,- to $839,-. When I drove away I realized that I could also have paid the bond in 2 transactions and was pissed off that I wasn’t given that option. I felt betrayed. I went back and talked to the manager. He promised to get in touch with headquarters in Brisbane and would see what he could do for me. He would call me back as soon as possible. I never heard from him again.
What I learned from feedback through social media is that after my visit to the yoga resort Kura Kura in Bali and writing about my adventures a handful of people decided to book a retreat there or promised themselves one. So my experience as a guest or client has an effect on my readers and therefore on the places I visit. So I thought I would go to the headquarters of Hippie Camper Rental to explain this mechanism. Because I had a feeling that if I wouldn’t I would be left with a very negative feeling about them and this was the only shot I had at giving them an opportunity to solve matters elegantly. I wasn’t very hopeful but I was 100% sure that if I would try to reason with them in Sydney when I returned the van I would fail. I hoped I would find somebody who would actually listen and think what is in the interest of the company instead of hiding behind the wall of company regulations. I needed somebody who could tell me to whom to talk.
When I parked my van on the parking lot of the rental company and jumped on the hot concrete I heard a Dutch voice coming from behind shouting: “Hey! Are you Dutch?” Or actually she shouted: “Hee! Ben jij Nederlands?” As I turn around I look in the eyes of this cute, happy green-eyed blonde girl who recognized me because of my orange shirt (that I packed in January because I thought I would surely need it when Holland had reached the finals of the European Football Championships). She turned out to be a trainee in the company and just started her lunch break. It was as if in angel fell out of the sky. This was exactly the ally I needed: somebody who I could explain my situation and who knew the company from the inside. And she was this totally enthusiastic, lively, outgoing, typically Dutch girl. Meeting her was a relief in itself; it was nice to remember the spirit of Dutch girls. We went for a walk around the building she even shares her lunch with me.
As this is going on I am very aware of the magic of the moment. What were the odds that I would run into a helper the very moment my feet touched ground on the parking place?
As I explain my story and tell about my website she tells me that the company actually has a policy to prevent negative news to go on the internet. And that social media is actually one of the topics she keeps herself busy with. I aske her if there is anybody who can make a decision as I need somebody who will take action and not just refers me to some other desk. She says that basically everybody can take that kind of action. So I am starting to feel quite hopeful.
When we come back she asks me to tell the story to the people from the ‘regular’ custom desk: the sales representatives that every customer meets when you walk into such a place. Well, when I tell them my story I encounter the same old wall. The answer is: there is nothing we can do about it, it is not our fault, we can’t and won’t change the original contract. If I have any complaints I should write a complaint and go to head quarters, which is ‘not here’ but ‘totally somewhere else in Brisbane’. From the helpless, pseudo empathetic looks on their faces head quarters might as well be in Moscow. They would really ‘like to help’ but ‘unfortunately’ their hands are completely tied here.
Then I see my angel come into the front office, this time accompanied by a blonde dude in his beginning 30s who actually looks sensible. As I am still trying to reason with the ladies who are not giving in one millimeter he politely breaks up the conversation, introduces himself as Scott and asks what is going on. The ladies explain and then Scott says: “Oh, but I think we can give this gentleman a refund as we don’t want to make things more difficult then necessary”. And when the ladies say that going back to the original insurance requires a higher bond and use of the credit card he says “well, I will take that risk personally” and he looks to me and says “just don’t crash that car, will you? Because it will come out of my pocket” Within seconds the whole energy had changed: the unhelpful ladies become the sweetest ladies. All of a sudden is was “yes, of course we can do that”. And “naturally we want to help this gentleman as good as we can”.
To be honest: I was so flabbergasted that I felt like I lost my cool. I don’t think anybody noticed but as I was trying to act all confident and stuff I wanted to jump up and down of joy. I was babbling a bit about my website, trying to play this influential writer and realizing what it feels like to be inauthentic and how hard it has become for me to ‘act’. I also had to suppress my urge to dish out some good old Dutch sarcasm to humiliate the ones who had been lying through their teeth seconds earlier. I played nice. Meanwhile I gave my angel a big fat wink. I was so happy with her I could kiss her.
As we all walk together to my van I show the crack in the windscreen. My friend Scott the manager has one of the sales ladies look at it and she says it has to be replaced. For a second she shows me her “we are very sorry sir, there is nothing we can do about it. It will have to replace this wind screen which will cost you $550,-‘ face. But then she turns around and says “but of course we want to do the right thing here” and she explains me that going to some car glass service is hundreds of dollars cheaper.
I leave the scene after shaking Scotts and giving my angel a hug. As I sit behind the wheel I am overcome with joy. What on earth just happened here? It was surreal. Every time my angel entered the scene, things began to flow. The $324, – was knocked of the bill and the $550,- was brought back to what turned out to be $180,-. Her presence saved me $694,- and instead of leaving me with a negative feeling about hippiecamper.com gave me an enormously positive experience how things can fall in the right place on the right time.
As I drove away I realize that the only puzzle that needed solving was the windscreen. In my mind I go through the actions that I must take. Where to find the right guy? Who to call? And then I realize: John! The guy I met in the sea in Byron Bay. He is a car mechanic!
Seldom I have felt so guided by the Universe. It was amazing, stunning. And humbling. The people that came to my rescue were not gurus or teachers or anything exceptional. They were just nice human beings who crossed my path at exactly the right moment, providing exactly what I needed.
My visit to John turned into a whole adventure in itself that deserves it’s own post. But for now: thanks buddy!
My dear angel Pauline: I owe you lunch. Not just any lunch but an amazing lunch in some amazing place, I would say. Sushi?
Scott: thanks! And give that girl a raise!
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