Saturday, October 3, 2009

NOT Guaranteed Ride Home

Dear Commuter Connections,


Sorry, I just had to get that off my chest.

According to the Commuter Connections website, they offer this great program called Guaranteed Ride Home (GRH). Here's what their web page says (I have added some emphasis by highlighting portions of the text in red):

Guaranteed Ride Home (otherwise known as GRH) provides commuters who regularly (twice a week) carpool, vanpool, bike, walk or take transit to work with a FREE and reliable ride home when one of life’s unexpected emergencies arise.

Commuters may take advantage of GRH up to four times per year to get home for unexpected emergencies such as a personal illness or a sick child. GRH can also be used for unscheduled overtime when your employer mandates that you must stay late.

GRH is designed to rescue commuters who are worried about how they’ll get home when an emergency arises. Knowing there’s a guaranteed ride home allows one to use commuting options like transit and carpools with peace of mind and confidence.

Best of all, the GRH service is FREE!

Some restrictions apply so be sure to read the PARTICIPATION GUIDELINES

Questions? Call us at 1-800-745-RIDE.

Yeah, notice that nefarious little "some restrictions apply" caveat at the end???

So there I was...

It had been a looooong week. I had missed the last bus home from Crystal City most of the week, so I had to take the Metro over to Rosslyn to catch my backup late bus from there. My wife was not happy about eating dinner without me multiple times last week.

Along came Friday. My last appointment of the day on Friday was a 1 p.m. meeting in the Pentagon. Given what a tough week it had been, I said to myself, "Self, I'm gonna go home early this afternoon as soon as I get out of that 1 p.m. meeting."

"Tee-hee, we'll just see about that," said Murphy.

Then all-hell broke loose at the meeting, and next thing I knew I was frantically running around like a chicken with my head cut off, gathering information and writing urgent action memos for flag officers.

I made it back to my office the first time about 5:30 p.m. As I walked in the door, I was alarmed to discover my phone was ringing. You know what they say about not answering the phone after 4 p.m. right? (Especially on a Friday!) Well, I missed it - I picked up the phone right as the call went to voice mail the first time. I said to myself, "Self, if it's important, they'll call back."

Ring ring.

I picked up the phone. One of my coworkers coming back from our urgent tasking around the Pentagon was apprehended by the Pentagon Police because he didn't have his courier card.


I was the ONLY one left from our office. Everybody else had gone home for the day. I had to rescue my shipmate from the clutches of the Pentagon Police. So I dropped my stuff in my office, turned around, and headed out the door jogging the 3/4 mile stretch back to the Pentagon. I had to talk to the duty sergeant and sign for custody of my shipmate and the documents he was carrying without his courier card.

No sooner had we been released by the Pentagon Police then the cell phone rang. The admiral's executive assistant (EA) recalled us to the Pentagon to bring back the materials we had just finished reviewing in the admiral's office. Back we went into the Pentagon.

By the time we got out of the Pentagon, got back to the office to drop off the important stuff, picked up our personal things, and got to the Metro, I knew it was going to be too late. The absolute very last bus I can catch home is at 7:30 p.m. I got on the Metro about 7:20, and arrived at the bus stop about 7:34 to an empty bus platform.

So, tell me, dear readers... Wouldn't YOU consider this an example of "unscheduled overtime when your employer mandates that you must stay late"???

I sure thought so.

I reassured myself, "Self, NO PROBLEM! THIS is EXACTLY why you signed up for that Guaranteed Ride Home program with Commuter Connections!"

Flipping out my sometimes-trustworthy, not-all-together reliable BlackBerry, I googled Commuter Connections and dialed the phone number to ask for my FREE and GUARANTEED ride home.

The GRH customer service representative answered the phone. I said, "Hi, my name is Kevin. I had to work late and missed my last bus home, so I need to get my Guaranteed Ride Home."

The lady on the phone said, "Well, that's only for family emergencies during the day."

I said, "Uhhh, NO it's NOT. Your website specifically says it covers unscheduled overtime."

She told me that in order to get a GRH in the evenings after overtime, you have to call during the work day and make a reservation to get the ride home that night.


Excuse me???

How the HECK does THAT qualify as "unscheduled" overtime??? If I KNEW in ADVANCE that I was going to be late, then I would have driven my car to work that day. If I KNEW in ADVANCE that a coworker was going to be apprehended by the Pentagon Police, then I would have said, "Hey, don't forget your courier card!" If I KNEW in ADVANCE that the admiral's office was going to call and ask us to come back to the Pentagon, then I would have taken my backpack with me from my office so I could leave on the Metro directly from the Pentagon. If I KNEW in ADVANCE that Commuter Connections wasn't going to HONOR what their WEBSITE says for the GRH program, then I wouldn't have bothered signing up for the program or promoting the program to other people on my blog.

I tell ya, up until Friday, I'd been singing the praises of Commuter Connections to every shipmate of mine who has transferred to the DC area.

In the end, I ended up calling a friend who lives near me in Ashburn to drive out and pick me up from the Herndon Monroe Park-n-Ride.

After looking into it, I see they require a "supervisor" at your business to confirm that you were working on approved overtime. Ya know, I can understand the need to have a supervisor certify that you were officially working on unscheduled overtime so that people don't abuse the program, but requiring reservations in advance to get a "guaranteed" ride home for "emergency" situations is just RIDICULOUS!

Why don't they have your supervisor confirm that it was unscheduled overtime on the NEXT business day??? If you don't turn in something signed by your supervisor the next day, THEN charge the person's credit card for the cab fare. What a concept!

1 comment:

Nereus said...

Ouch, Sounds like a heck of a week to only be ended with a Bureaucrat
weenie loophole. In these times, the Guaranteed anything is so full of loopholes and conditions that it resembles aero gel in consistency.

Just be glad you were there to rescue a shipmate, shoulder the boulder and have a buddy to help you out. There are alot of folks who are unable or not currently allowed to have those opportunities.

Remember, on Friday, If you are not out the door at Noon, all bets are off with Mr Murphy. And the minute you think that it is a slam dunk, he will slam you.

Thanks for serving and doing the hard Job. I just hope what ever fire the Flag had set under you and your shipmates was really something vital to National Security and not a fluffy Task force (fill in the popularity subject) memo for an early Saturday AM run on the J.

Keep it real.