I waited a year before writing this – hoping time would heal the heartbreak of that day, but it really never did.  I still feel sadness when I think about the events of 10/16/11. 

Who would have imagined that I would get to meet and watch a friendship grow between my sister and an Indy Driver? —  let alone one as amazing as Dan Wheldon.  But one never knows what this life will bring – and what could/might/and occasionally does happen.

In NJ for my 40th High School Reunion, my sister “recruited” me to go with her on the trip she had just been notified she won from the $5 million GoDaddy Challenge Sweepstakes –a trip to the IZOD IndyCar Series World Championship Race with a chance to win 2.5 million dollars.  I was thrilled for her to have this opportunity. 

As the winner of the sweepstakes,  it put her in front of the camera and in the spotlight with Dan Wheldon for that last race of the IndyCar season in Las Vegas, Nevada last October 16th.  She was the only one who would share in the 5 million purse with Dan,  if he could come from the back of the field and actually take home the trophy that day.  She did a wonderful job for IZod, IndyCar and GoDaddy PR wise, she talked with ease on camera, on the radio and talked about the sponsors every chance she could (and to anyone who would listen).  She was herself, in her element, and I enjoyed watching her so at ease with all of that.   But, I especially enjoyed watching her and Dan joke about who could spend it faster and what they would each buy with their winnings. 

Dan and my sister had some sort of connection.  I am not sure what it was, but I believe they each had personalities that melded.  I loved watching them together. I know my sister much better than I ever was able to get to know Dan, but they each showed me that they like to joke around, had big hearts and a love for all people. They really did connect.  I don’t know if it was Dan or my sister who said …. “We are now friends for life.”  And as it turned out they truly were friends for life.

It’s bittersweet that we got to meet Dan Wheldon in the very last week of his life.  He seemed like a genuine, wonderful, and warm person.  It was especially emotional to be right there in the back of his pit, my sister listening to Dan and the last words between him and his pit crew that day.  I wish the outcome was different.   And… I sometimes do wonder why ~ why she was chosen out of all the entries, why Dan had to die, and why we were the ones “lucky” enough to share some of his last days and to witness the track accident that took his life.

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Leading up to the race, our week in Las Vegas was fraught with oversights and blunders by Izod, IndyCar, Go Daddy, or whomever was responsible for the trip they awarded my sister.  They gave us false information, and actually told us to go places where we would wait and wait and no one would call or show up.  My sister who has trouble walking, was forced to walk and walk–from the wrong bus locations to the wrong pace car ride location.  It was miserable to be constantly lied to…. and I blame IndyCar 100% for that.  Each time an event was happening they’d give us false information.   They wouldn’t give us our passes in advance (I asked), and they wouldn’t even tell us the correct schedule of things.  Why were they so rude and difficult?   Why were they constantly lying to us? I will never truly know. Could it have been that they wanted to have our tickets, and other items to give to their friends who had accompanied them on this trip to Las Vegas, and not to us?   In fact, based on the value my sister got on her 1099 – I would venture to guess they may have spent money on “other things” and charged it to her trip.   

In fact,  I got the feeling they were laughing every day at us with the stunts they pulled.  And instead of having a wonderful time in Las Vegas, I felt like we were the butt of their jokes… “Hey, you know what I did to those “winners” today?   “I told them where the bus was, but they won’t be able to get on, because I didn’t pay for it, or tell them it had to be paid for in advance….. ha ha ha.”   Some of the things I would even consider cruel — like telling us to go into the food trailer for breakfast, after breakfast was over and all that was left was a few slices of bread and some peanut butter.   Ha ha ha… really funny. 

  

 They asked to have my sisters’ tablet back on race day and returned it broken …. and then gave her a hard time about helping her get if fixed.  They told us Dan died in a matter of fact way while they were whisking us out of the track in a golf cart.  We didn’t even get to stay to see the tribute laps.  The events of the week cumulated in making us heart broken over the loss of Dan Wheldon.  It was an emotional time as we kept wondering why we were chosen to be there, experience that miserable week at the hands of the sponsors and then to have it end this particular way.  The sponsors representatives didn’t talk to us, or even return any of our phone calls when we tried to find out about the remaining events of our week.   The only call we got was from the IndyCar PR person wanting my sister to do a “closing” interview.  She didn’t do it.  I was happy she didn’t.  Because, as we struggled with deep sadness in our hearts over Dan and his family – all they cared about was a closing interview.

 

 

  *This article contains my feelings, opinions and observations on the events that transpired during the week we were in Las Vegas for the 2011 Izod IndyCar race.  They are 100% mine, and told from my perspective.



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There are some businesses, and I am not pointing a finger at a specific one, that I truly believe try to find something “extra” to charge for each time you make a purchase.  There are some who want to sell you additional things like warranties and the like, but here I am taking about things you don’t want and didn’t approve.  They just add it on and hope you won’t notice and just pay it.  Sometimes they make a mistake with these charges, but it’s so blatantly wrong — I tend to believe it’s not a mistake.  Not enough people check over their receipts and invoices.  Not enough people refuse to pay the extra charges.  Even for some who do, it’s just impossible to fix and they get stuck with them anyway.

Just the other day, Christmas Eve, I got hit with a surprise $5.00 charge on my receipt, at a local sporting goods store. It was for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, but I didn’t approve it, or even know about it till I found it on the receipt and then the cashier had the nerve to ask my husband if he did it.  First,  there was no way he could have done that, and second we both knew it likely was some kind of a contest to see who could rack up the most dollars for St. Jude’s that day — Christmas Eve — long lines, busy customers, rushing, waiting in Get Your Extra Feesline… hurrying on – just put it on their bill and hope they won’t come back to the store to have it fixed.  It was after all a great time to hit people up for $5.00 to a charity, but because I didn’t approve it first, not a legitimate one.   By the way, on that same receipt, I found a second problem before I left the store that netted me an additional $7.35 off.  This one involved filling a sales table with a sign and price that didn’t apply to the items on the table.  I basically demanded they take the sign down immediately or honor the price.  They honored the price for me, but were having no problem charging everyone else $7.35 more for those items than what the sign indicated.  But enough of that, let’s get into our list.

Common Carriers – You know these companies as UPS, Federal Express, DHL, the United States Post Office and others that carry your goods from place to place simply because you can’t.  I think they provide a valuable service to all of us, but I still hate the extra fee’s they tack on.   Why?  Many times I find out about the additional costs after I have shipped my goods, billed my customer, or otherwise finished with the transaction.  Their software which should (in my opinion) figure out your entire cost in one fell swoop – doesn’t do it all the time correctly.   The carriers get around that by making you “agree” that their invoice is only an estimate of the costs and actual billed costs could be different.  Over the years there have been class action suits against these types of carriers for blatant errors in charging clients.  I have personally been billed for “oversized” packages that we measured,  entered with their actual measurements in their software, only to find they revised my measurements to add a few inches here and there – and lots of extra shipping dollars.  That part is bad enough, but when they “fight” you when you call them on their error, that is when it really gets annoying.

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Short Posts ~ a snipet of the longer ones!

Commercial vs. Residential

This has always been a “sticky” issue when shipping  with UPS.  How they “determine” these categories, I believe, is by the zip codes.

UPS charges more for residential and an additional amount now for rural.  Commercial establishments no matter where they are located get the best pricing.

Lately they have had to “physically” determine if a previously listed commercial establishment (and even if the address verifies commercial in their software) is an actual commercial establishment.  Say what?UPS-truck

Yes, you heard it right.  The National Association of  XYZ – right there on K St. NW – somehow since last month could have turned into a residential location.  I almost laughed myself silly when I heard this.  However, that  address and several others which are obvious to those who live here in the DC area, as definately commercial addresses, also  have had to be physically determined.  The representative I talked to said an actual UPS representative had to go out and verify that the location was indeed commercial before I could get a credit for this billing error.  I really couldn’t believe this excuse for not changing the rate to the correct one, it was the silliest one I heard to date — but “until verified” the charges could not be changed.

It’s bologna folks –  they want you to go away and just pay whatever they charged you in the first place even if it’s wrong!  I wonder if they provide the Customer Service reps with a list of 100 excuses to give customers who call in needing an adjustment to their charges?  I have heard some really doozies in my 25 years shipping with them. Can’t wait to hear the next one!

FYI ~ There is currently a class action lawsuit alleging wrongful charges by UPS for oversized/overweight packages.  I can verify they have made my packages larger or heavier than they were many times.  About time someone stepped up to try and fix that issue.

Remember this is only my opinion based on my personal experience with UPS.

 

The first thing I want to say about these to be crystal clear — these aren’t about anything but revenue.  The revenue is for the owners of the camera and for the towns/states/municipalities that use them.  This revenue is no small amount; we are talking multiple millions per year.

If that wasn’t the case, the municipalities that use these cameras would care if there was an actual violation and who actually committed it. But they don’t, pure and simple.  They just want the vehicle owner to pay the fine. They just want the money.

Most times you will not win, if you try, as they assume guilt. Hey, they have the picture, right? And even if the camera is broken, you are still guilty.  And even if you were in Iraq or on the moon, your car was the one we have on camera and you are guilty.

In my opinion, and everything I write is my opinion, I think that stinks.  Why? Because I often let others use my personal and company vehicles. I often leave my keys in case someone needs to use my vehicle, or move it, etc. Sure I expect them to drive it gently, and to obey the law.  I believe most times they do.

Annoying Example One: Traffic Light Street Line

There is a seemingly new interpretation regarding the red light cameras in many states.  I guess their revenues weren’t as high as they expected.  It seems now, that if your tire touches the white line – you are guilty of running a red light and they are sending tickets for same*. If your car stopped, but if your tire went over the white line you can and most likely will be found guilty of this violation at any traffic signal equipped with these cameras.  My advice then, based on that is run the damn light and get the ticket legitimately.  The hell with safety, and doing what’s right by trying to stop – if you are going to get the ticket anyway, and have to pay the fine, with little to no hope of contesting it and it’s “just that close” run the damn light.

 

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