Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
America hasn't seen a coast-to-coast solar eclipse for 99 years.
The darned things are quite annoying when they arrive, too. It's not as if you get the full effect if you just pop your head out of the window at the appropriate moment, wherever you happen to be.
To get the full experience you have to place yourself along a particular line across America.
Obviously, many Americans are insane enough to do just that. So they've booked trips to various appropriate areas and rented cars far in advance.
Oh, but you know that car rental companies are little different from airlines, don't you?
And so it was, as BuzzFeed reports, that Hertz customers began to complain that they were getting robocalls summarily informing them that their reservations were canceled.
Welcome to a ruined trip.
The customers were being offered rental vouchers. It's not clear whether these were only valid for the next Eclipse, which I understand might occur in April 2024.
Some, though, have complained that this promotion of the idea comes with the notion of gouging for the privilege.
You see how much like airlines they are?
I contacted Hertz to ask whether its customer service had been eclipsed by disorganization.
A spokeswoman told me: "We inadvertently overbooked reservations for the Portland area for the week of the solar eclipse." (Oregon is on the full Eclipse flight path.)
Can you overbook without realizing that you're doing it? I fear that might be difficult. Surely a big, red light would be flashing on all the Hertz computers and robots would whine: "Overbooking alert! Overbooking alert!"
If they thought this was a bad thing, that is.
Just as airlines and hotels embrace the concept of overbooking whenever they can, car rental companies aren't driven away from it by inadvertent scruples.
Of course, sometimes customers don't turn up. But please note that when you book a rental car, there is absolutely no guarantee that you'll get a rental car. Of any kind. Ever.
Hertz insists that the voices which called customers were not those of robots, but of human people.
Could it be that customers can't tell the difference anymore?
Now, though, the company is trying a little emotional rescue.
"We are reaching out to those customers this week to let them know that we are bringing in additional fleet from outside areas to fulfill as many customer reservations as we can," the spokeswoman told me.
Who would be surprised if they received a call from a Hertz robo-human that said: "Good news! We've got you a car after all. Bad news! It's now going to cost you $8,000."?