The plan had been for Mary to keep the rental car as she had planned on staying in the city with friends. I was to work at the factory the second day and because I was scared to death of driving in L.A. she had agreed to do all the driving. I paid for the rental car and she drove, that was the deal. Frank (the factory owner) was to pick me up in the morning and then I could take the shuttle back to the airport.
Within the hour after Mary dropped me off at the hotel she calls me back, she had some skin biopsies done before we had left and she was worried about the results. She had decided that she wanted to go home that night, so she changed her flight and asked me to drive her to the airport and keep the car, then I could return the car the next day when I went to the airport. I was scared to say the least, although I had lived in California, Sacramento is a much different place than Los Angeles. My phone didn’t have GPS and I used to have a fear of getting lost. What could I say I felt really bad for her she was very worried and we had become friends so I worried with her.
For some reason our phones had a really bad connection and she had to call me many times just to finish our conversation. Part of the problem was she kept changing the plan as to when she was coming. She was very distraught so a lot of the conversation was her worrying and me trying to console her. After not being able to eat dinner because of the constant change of plans she shows up and I drive her to the airport wish her much luck and white knuckled it back to the hotel. I did get a little lost and the traffic was insane but finally around 11:00 I got to the hotel, ate dinner and crashed.
About a week after I got home I received a bill from Mary and did a double take. She had broken up the trip to L.A. to the hourly rate as agreed but, she had charged me for the time we spent on the phone. The time she was asking me to take her to the airport and I was consoling her. Her hourly rate was quite expensive and she billed like a lawyer charging me in 15 minute increments for several of the calls where we lost connection. In fairness we did spend a couple of minutes talking business so things were a little convoluted but for the most part we were discussing her needs and worries. Then I see a fee for the change to her flight, a little over a hundred dollars. I was taken aback, seriously I was not happy to say the least but I was attempting to be professional so I called her and started going over my issues with the bill.
Starting with the flight change fee, why would that be my responsibility? To which she actually said “I know, I was hoping they wouldn’t charge you” (yes she actually said that). At that moment I heard her other line beep, she said she had to call me back, I was even more irritated and sat there stewing. I can’t remember how long it was until she called back but I was ready for her when she did, what I was not ready for was “I have skin cancer and I have to go in right away to have surgery, the biopsies were all malignant.” I immediately felt awful for being so upset with her, my first thought was “here I am worrying about money when she’s dealing with this.” I forgot about the charges and went into friend mode.