PRESS ONE

I sure do miss the good old days when you called a business on the phone and actually talked to a real live person.  Now a simple transaction takes you through twenty different menus and wastes precious minutes of your time while you try to get to the “right” place.  Assuming, of course, there is a right place.  And how come every time I call the same business I have to listen closely because the menu options have changed?  Why do they keep changing the menus?  Personally, I think that’s just a ruse to force the hapless caller  to listen to the whole blasted list that goes on forever.  The people in these offices must derive a perverse sense of pleasure from constantly changing (or making us think they changed) the menu options.   I can just hear them now.  “Let’s change ‘billing’ from option one to option three next week.  Then those callers who try to bypass the system by pressing ‘one’ will end up in ‘hours of operation’ and have to start all over again.  We’ll switch it back the following week. Bwa-ha-ha-ha!”

And I really hate it when I’ve gone through all the options and none of them fit!  Especially when there is no option to hold for an operator.   Not too long ago I went around the circle that went nowhere trying to get an answer from the Department of Professional Regulation.   (Seriously, why didn’t I just stick an ice pick in my eye?  It would have been less painful!  I mean, after all, I knew this was a government office I was trying to contact!)  After several long minutes of options that had nothing to do with my question, I was disconnected.  They hung up on me!  I called back.  In the beginning of the message  I was referred to their website, which also hadn’t answered my question in the first place and referred me to the number I had just called.  Ah, government bureaucracy at its finest!

Occasionally, I get lucky and punch in an option that sounds like I am finally getting somewhere, only to be told that the person I want to speak with is “away from his or her desk at the moment.”  Or the hour, or the day, week, or on a two-month long sabbatical in the Himalayas.  In other words, there is not a snowball’s chance in a very hot place that I will ever receive a phone call from said person, even if I do leave my name, phone number, and reason for my call.  I believe the voicemail instantly self-destructs as soon as I leave my information.  Let’s be honest here—at any time in history has the person you are trying to connect with ever once answered the phone?  No, of course not!  Why would they want to be bothered with actually talking to you?  Hence, they are always “away from their desk at the moment.”  Assuming they even have a desk.

The one I particularly dislike is the recording that assures me, “Your call is very important to us.  Please stay on the line.”  If my call was that important to them, they would hire more than one representative in a basement somewhere in India who doesn’t speak English!  They can’t fool me.  I know my call is not very important to them!  They probably wish I would give up after an hour of waiting on the phone and just go away.  But I’ll show them!  I can play solitaire on my computer while on “hold” for an entire afternoon.

Every once in a blue moon a real person answers and I am so shocked I get tongue-tied.  So the real person probably thinks I’m a robocall and hangs up.   Sigh.  Oh for the good old days when I could just call and get a busy signal!  Press one if you agree.  Press two if you disagree.  Press three if you don’t care.  Press four if you gave up before finishing this blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PRESS ONE

By Ellen Fannon

I sure do miss the good old days when you called a business on the phone and actually talked to a real live person.  Now a simple transaction takes you through twenty different menus and wastes precious minutes of your time while you try to get to the “right” place.  Assuming, of course, there is a right place.  And why should I have to press one for English?  And how come every time I call the same business I have to listen closely because the menu options have changed?  Why do they keep changing the menus?  Personally, I think that’s just a ruse to force the hapless caller  to listen to the whole blasted list that goes on forever.  The people in these offices must derive a perverse sense of pleasure from constantly changing (or making us think they changed) the menu options.   I can just hear them now.  “Let’s change ‘billing’ from option one to option three next week.  Then those callers who try to bypass the system by pressing ‘one’ will end up in ‘hours of operation’ and have to start all over again.  We’ll switch it back the following week. Bwahahaha!”

And I really hate it when I’ve gone through all the options and none of them fit!  Especially when there is no option to hold for an operator.   Not too long ago I went around the circle that went nowhere trying to get an answer from the Department of Professional Regulation.   (Seriously, why didn’t I just stick an ice pick in my eye?  It would have been less painful!  I mean, after all, I knew this was a government office I was trying to contact!)  After several long minutes of options that had nothing to do with my question, I was disconnected.  They hung up on me!  I called back.  In the beginning of the message  I was referred to their website, which also hadn’t answered my question in the first place and referred me to the number I had just called.  Ah, government bureaucracy at its finest!

Occasionally, I get lucky and punch in an option that sounds like I am finally getting somewhere, only to be told that the person I want to speak with is “away from his or her desk at the moment.”  (Or the hour, or the day, week, or on a two-month long sabbatical in the Himalayas).  In other words, there is not a snowball’s chance in a very hot place that I will ever receive a phone call from said person, even if I do leave my name, phone number, and reason for my call.  I believe the voicemail instantly self-destructs as soon as I leave my information.  Let’s be honest here—at any time in history has the person you are trying to connect with ever once answered the phone?  No, of course not!  Why would they want to be bothered with actually talking to you?  Hence, they are always “away from their desk at the moment.”  Assuming they even have a desk to start with.

The one I particularly dislike is the recording that assures me, “Your call is very important to us.  Please stay on the line.”  If my call was that important to them, they would hire more than one representative in a basement somewhere in India who doesn’t speak English!  They can’t fool me.  I know my call is not very important to them!  They probably wish I would give up after an hour of waiting on the phone and just go away.  But I’ll show them!  I can play solitaire on my computer while on “hold” for an entire afternoon.

Every once in a blue moon a real person answers and I am so shocked I get tongue-tied.  So the real person probably thinks I’m a robocall and hangs up.   Sigh.  Oh for the good old days when I could just call and get a busy signal!  Press one if you agree.  Press two if you disagree.  Press three if you don’t care.  Press four if you gave up before finishing this blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TAKE A SEAT AND FILL OUT THESE 50 FORMS

By Ellen Fannon

I’m getting to that age where my social life revolves around my doctors’ visits.  I have another appointment next week at a clinic where I have been seen twice before in the past, but somehow they have no record of my visits.  So I have to arrive a half hour early to fill out paperwork again.  I wouldn’t mind so much if I thought anybody actually LOOKED at the paperwork (other than proof of insurance, which always gets first priority), but I seriously have my doubts about the rest.

For example, why do they hand you a clipboard with fifty forms to fill out and on ALL of them you have to put your address?  Couldn’t the address just be transferred over from the first form?  After all, it doesn’t change between form one and form forty-nine.  And your birthdate.  THAT doesn’t change either, unless of course you are so embarrassed at writing that incredibly ancient year over and over again that you decide to fudge a little toward the end.  Sex could possibly change depending on whether the patient feels like a female on forms one through thirty, then feels more like a male from thirty-one on.  In this day and age, that’s perfectly acceptable, although it could make for difficulties at the OB/GYN appointment.  But what does my grandmother’s maiden name have to do with my back pain?  Or  my marital status?

Then there are all these questions about your medical history.  Now being a medical professional, I understand the importance of medical history, but is it really relevant that I had pink eye in 1982?  Or motion sickness in a small airplane ten years ago?  There are pages and pages of every conceivable condition ranging from near-sightedness to scurvy.  Family history is, of course, pertinent.  But does my third cousin’s twice removed gall bladder surgery really apply all that much to my situation?  (Twice removed cousin, not twice removed gallbladder.) By the time I finish up with form fifty, I need to add “writer’s cramp” to the list.

As I finally turn in all the paper work and make it back to an exam room, I can tell nobody looked at any of the forms I so painstakingly filled out because the first question from the health provider is “What are we seeing you for today?”  I am always tempted to reply in a snarky tone that if the provider had taken two minutes to look at my paperwork, he would KNOW what I was there for, as the problem was listed on at least twenty-eight forms.  But of course I am much too polite to say that.  Plus starting off the visit with a snarky tone might get the PA (as you never see an actual DOCTOR until visit nineteen) mad at me, which I really don’t want to do, as he might put me through unnecessary painful and expensive tests.  So I nicely answer the question, and from the direction the rest of the exam takes, I can tell he is not the least bit interested in my case of pinkeye in 1982. In order to be thorough, I kind of want to bring the pinkeye to his attention, but I don’t want to be labeled as a high maintenance patient who can’t keep her mind on relevant issues.

I am already dreading filling out those forms.  However, I’m thinking I might have a little fun, as well as testing the staff to see if they actually DO look at them.  I believe on form thirty-six, under “other” condition, I’m going to write in Ebola.  Or Leprosy.  Or Bubonic Plague.  Or perhaps “all of the above.”  Hee hee!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HELP! I’VE FALLEN

By Ellen Fannon

As I get older, there are a number of things I have begun to worry about which seemed way too far off in the future to concern myself with in younger years.  Of course when I was younger, I was never going to reach “old age”—although the alternative isn’t so appealing, either—and even if I did, I was going to be one of those cool old ladies who takes up rock climbing or white water rafting at the age of ninety.  But there is one thing I have prayed I would never become and that is one of those frail old people who falls all the time. That, along with about five hundred other things about aging, is one of my worst nightmares.

To that end, I try to stay active, exercise as much as my schedule will allow, and take calcium supplements and medication for my aging, osteoporotic bones.  So it was with a sense of dismay that I found myself flat on the floor the other day, like one of those old ladies in the commercials groaning, “Help!  I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”  Actually, I didn’t say those words.  I just lay on the floor and groaned.

What precipitated my fall was the need to return a pair of scissors to the desk drawer.  It seems I’m the only one in the house who is capable of returning anything to its proper place, and if I wanted to see those scissors in the future, it would be up to me to return them to where I could find them again.  I picked up said scissors—I don’t remember which hand they were in or which way they were pointed, but as I’m generally a careful person, they were probably pointed correctly.  As I started across the bedroom, the evil cord from the electric blanket on our bed reached out and grabbed my right foot.  The next thing I knew, I had face-planted on the hardwood floor and stabbed myself in the left ear with the scissors.  I wasn’t even running with scissors!  I knew it had to be bad since the sound of my body slamming into the floor actually roused my twelve year old son away from his Wii game to come see what happened.

“Are you all right?” he in fact asked. There might have even been the tiniest tinge of concern in his voice.  However, it was probably more geared toward hoping I said I was perfectly fine so he could get back to his game.

“No,” I panted.  “Look and see if my ear is bleeding.”  Having had extensive experience with cut ears in my animal patients, I know they bleed like stuck pigs.  I could just visualize a scene that resembled something out of a hacker movie.  If so, I was done for, as I can’t stand the sight of human blood, especially mine.  (I know, I know, I treat grisly animal emergencies and do surgeries for a living. Human blood is different, trust me).  As it was, I was feeling rather queasy from having the wind knocked out of me, shearing the skin off the side of my left hand, and the pain of stabbing myself in the ear.  The only good thing in this whole episode was the pullout shelves on the desk were shoved in, as my head would have made kindling out of them on the way down.  As it was, my head missed the desk by about an inch.

Two seconds later, my husband called to tell me he was on his way home from work.

“Answer the phone,” I instructed my clueless son, who stood there staring at me, letting the phone ring.

He answered and told his father I couldn’t come to the phone because I was lying on the floor where I fell.  Of course my husband immediately demanded to talk to me, so I panted and gasped out the whole story to him.

“Is your ear bleeding?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” I whined.  “I’m afraid to look at it.”  Or even touch it, for that matter. For all I knew, my whole ear was lying on the floor in a pool of blood.

“Well get something and—”

“Just come home!” I cut him off and disconnected.

Somehow, by the time he got home, I had made it off the floor and onto the bed.  My son was back playing Wii.  The sensation that I was going to faint had pretty much gone away, and my face was no longer ashen and covered in cold sweat.  Although I felt beat up, I realized I wasn’t seriously hurt.

“Well, I’ve done it,” I complained to my husband.  “I’m now officially one of those old people who falls.  At least I didn’t break my hip.”

“You didn’t fall,” he pointed out.  “You tripped.  There’s a difference.”

“You’re right!”  My attitude brightened.  “I’m not old.  I’m just a klutz!”

 

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY

By Ellen Fannon

 

I am all for equal opportunity for women.  After all, I am one.  I am woman, hear me roar, and all that.  Having established that, I do have to say there is still one area in a man’s world where I truly believe no woman should dare to venture.  What might that area be, you ask?  Killing bugs.  Killing bugs is definitely not a job for a woman.  I pride myself on being a reasonably independent, self-sufficient, not easily rattled woman, but let a flying palmetto bug come after me and I scream like a bad actress in a b-horror movie.   Not only do I scream, but I also do the “icky-icky” dance and run for cover.  If my husband is around, he will usually come running to find out if I have just cut off my finger while chopping vegetables or been hacked by an ax murderer who came through the front door he failed to lock.  Nope, something much worse.

“What?” he’ll demand, upon arriving to slay whatever dragon accosted me.

“A bug!” I’ll reply in a quivering voice, bordering on hysteria.

At this he will roll his eyes, sigh, and ask, “Where?”

I’ll point in the general vicinity of the offending insect while hovering behind him for protection.

“I don’t like bugs any better than you do,” he’ll mutter.

“Yeah, but you’re a man.  It’s your job to kill the bugs.” At least I think that’s a rule. If not, it should be.

He will usually tough it out, although if the thing comes after him, all bets may be off.  There may be a little bit of male shrieking, which is not pretty.  But generally, he will manage to dispatch the terrorizing creature to the great septic tank in the sky with a shoe or rolled up newspaper or other handy bug-killing implement.

Me, I can’t step on a bug or hit it with a shoe.  First, it requires I get closer to the creature than I am comfortable being (not that there is any distance from a bug with which I am comfortable), and second, I can’t stand the crunching sound their little chitinous exoskeletons make when squashed.  I generally can’t swat them off a wall, either, as I usually miss and just make them more angry and more determined to “get” me.  Or they crawl into an inaccessible place and bide their time until I let down my guard.

So what, you may ask, do I do when confronted by a bug when my husband is not around.  That’s easy.  I spray it.  I can stand back from a safe distance and saturate half a room with toxic chemicals in the hope of the spray getting somewhere in the generally vicinity of the bug. It’s kind of like dropping a bomb on an entire city with the goal of wiping out one enemy without actually having to go hand-to-hand combat.  What if I don’t have bug spray?  It doesn’t matter.  I spray it with something—Windex, 409, oven cleaner, Endust—whatever.  Surely something in one of those products will kill it.  Plus, while I’m spraying, I can still scream and do the “icky-icky” dance, which, as we all know, is a requirement of any bug-female confrontation.

So, all you men out there, man up and rescue us swooning females from the terrifying insect population.  Otherwise, I warn you, I have Lysol Multi-Purpose cleaner and I’m not afraid to use it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BLACK THUMB

By Ellen Fannon

All around me I am starting to see signs of spring.  Pink buds are showing up on my azaleas. The vines on my fence are producing a crop of pretty little yellow flowers and there is a tree in my backyard covered with beautiful purple blossoms.  I don’t know what the tree or the vines are, as I tend to plant things and then never remember what kind of foliage I have.  That’s because the items I plant are generally not around long enough for me to get attached to them.  Put another way, I don’t have a green thumb.  What I have is more along the lines of a black thumb.  However, that doesn’t stop me from trying.

Every year I make my annual pilgrimage to the garden center—usually Lowes—where I methodically choose hundreds of dollars’ worth of vegetation to kill.  I am somewhat surprised nobody recognizes me as the plant-murderess and throws me out.  Then again, the more plants I murder, the more money I spend.  I go up and down each aisle looking for something that thrives on bad soil and neglect.  Sure, I have good intentions when I start out, but somewhere along the line my plants don’t get fed or watered unless it rains. Add to that the fact I really don’t know what I’m doing, like the time I planted all the beautiful sun-loving plants in the shade.

I look at the plants with the festive blooms.  Nope, planted them a few years ago and they all died within two weeks.  Ooh, that one looks pretty.  No, wait, I’ve done that one, too.  By now I can recognize just about everything that did not do well in my hands, which leaves me with little to choose from.  Impatiens are fairly indestructible except when the dog decides to do her business in the flower bed and has to dig to China first.  That doesn’t count as my fault.  I even brought in the hanging pot of begonias the first two times the temperature dipped into the thirties this year and I managed to keep the cats from eating them.  Unfortunately, on the third cold night I forgot, so there they sit on my porch, their droopy brown bodies a reminder of my failure.  My husband says maybe they will resurrect, but I’m not hopeful.

I really should accept my limitations and give up.  But all I know is I want a beautiful garden.  Hiring an expert to help didn’t do any good.  Regardless of explaining (twice) to two different lawn care services that I wanted them to take over and create a colorful masterpiece in my yard, all I got was someone who mowed the thriving weeds twice a month.  So, as February turns into March and the sky is robin’s egg blue with wispy white clouds, the temperature is a balmy 72 degrees, and new plant life is everywhere (except my yard), I feel the draw to the garden store like a moth to the flame.  I can’t fight it.  The pull is just too strong—because I just know this time my efforts to plant and maintain a lovely flower garden will succeed.  You do know the definition of insanity, right?  Something about doing the same things over and over and expecting different results.  But this time . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s