There have been times when I’ve wanted to write a post about something, but a little voice whispered that it might be best to noodle it around a bit before committing ink to paper (or font to screen, or idea to the webernet or whatever the comparison du jour might be). And while the same can’t be said for when it tells me the CIA has implanted a tracking device in my brain or that spending the winter writing in a remote, not at all haunted, mountain-top resort hotel with my annoying wife, Wendy, and creepy little boy, Danny, is a good idea, more often than not the voice is right about blog topics.
Things that are funny as the sun is coming up after the fourth night of a bout of insomnia, are decidedly less so when I’m operating with a well-rested brain; and after an extra day to consider my options, I realize there’s no way to write about some people without it being obvious who I’m referring to — it won’t take long to figure out that “the man with Buddy Holly glasses who lived in our house when I was a kid” is my dad.
So when I have an idea for a blog post, the premise of which is painted with a rather broad brush, I generally let it marinate for a time, rather than run the risk of my impulsivity offending someone who doesn’t deserve it; or worse, failing to offend someone who does.
But if I’ve learned nothing else from a lifetime of living with my brain, I know that it often has a one-track mind and will refuse to generate any new ideas until I’ve addressed that with which it’s currently obsessed. So if you belong to the group that inspired this post, or know someone who does, please accept my apology for the sweeping generality I’m about to make.
People are idiots.
Wait a minute, Baroness, some of you are undoubtedly thinking (or saying, if you’re in the habit of speaking to me despite my not being present), I may be people but I’m certainly not an idiot. I understand where you’re coming from and why you feel that way, but yes you are. We all are. Not always at the same time or at the same level, but much like Soylent Green, idiocy can’t exist without people.
Whoops! I guess it’s too late for a spoiler alert now. My apologies to anyone who has been unable to find enough time over the past four decades to see that particular film.
At this point in the imaginary conversation we’re having, a light-bulb has appeared over your head as you silently exclaim, I get it! In failing to provide a warning that you were about to reveal the movie’s shocking twist, you demonstrated your own degree of idiocy! How terribly clever of you!
And how partially correct of you! I am indeed quite clever. However, I was actually having a bit of fun at the expense of those who expect the rest of the world to preserve their movie-going pleasure by tiptoeing around various plot devices for decades. To them, all I have to say is Bruce Willis was dead the whole time.
I think that takes care of my out-dated reference quota for the day, so let’s discuss the events that led to my conclusion regarding people and idiocy.
Over the past year, my arms have become too short for me to be able to read most things. Not Tyrannosaurus Rex or Cee Lo Green short … I can still brush my hair and zip up my jeans; but unless the font is unusually large, I can’t read anything closer than about four feet from my face. I considered hiring one of those people whose job it is to flip sheet music pages for concert pianists and other fancy musical types, to sit across the room from me holding up books and other reading material. But since my favorite places to read are in bed and in the bathtub, the relationship between me and my Typography Enhancement Assistant felt awkwardly intimate before I’d even interviewed anyone for the position.
As I mentioned in my last post, I’m currently getting by with cheaters (glasses with simple magnifying lenses that are available at most drugstores), but have found that I need different strengths for different tasks. On the theory that a single pair with the capacity for use with multiple tasks would be more convenient, I got the ball rolling by making an appointment with an ophthalmologist.
When the day of my appointment rolled around, I arrived a bit early in order to tackle the stacks of repetitive, new-patient paperwork required by most physicians. I’d given the receptionist my insurance card and ID to copy and had just started on the forms, when she called me back to the window and informed me that my appointment had been canceled. After a quick check of my messages and missed calls, I asked why it had been canceled and, more importantly, why no one had thought to inform me.
According to the receptionist, the cancellation was because my insurance didn’t cover the scheduled procedure and that they’d sent a notification postcard a couple of weeks back. When I asked where the postcard had been sent, she (barely) managed to repress an eye-roll, but was unable to contain the sarcasm dripping from her reply when she said, “Ummm … to your house.”
“How?” I asked, gesturing with the new-patient paperwork in my hand. “I’m just filling out these forms now. How would you know what coverage I have or what my address is?”
I saw a bit of smug superiority leave her face as she considered what I said. She turned back to the monitor and after a bit of tippy-tapping on the keyboard, I saw that she had regained her snotty superpowers. “It says you were notified by mail,” she informed me.
“But you don’t have my address,” I repeated. “Does it say where it was sent?”
She turned the monitor a bit so that I could see it (probably violating a view dozen HIPAA rules in the process), and pointed to a field near the top of of the page. “To your home,” she said. And there was indeed a little green check mark next to the “home” option.
I applaud anyone willing to make room in their employee pool for those struggling with logic or common-sense deficiencies. But the potential benefits of such practices are quickly nullified if that willingness isn’t accompanied by the additional training and attention required by those afflicted with such conditions
How the folks at the eye-doctor came to the conclusion that a basic eye exam wasn’t covered by my insurance provider, I’m not sure. But my theory is that lacking a plausible explanation, the receptionist had reverted to the well-known and time-tested practice of just pulling random information out of her ass.
I called my insurance company when I got home and the person with whom I spoke agreed that some of the information I’d been given had likely been stored in, and pulled from, the receptionist’s ass in a random manner. Upon my suspicions being confirmed, I called the ophthalmologist’s office to schedule another appointment.
When the next appointment day rolled around, I again arrived a bit early. I’d put my name on the patient list and was just getting started on the paperwork when the receptionist called me back to her desk. I thought she might need my insurance ID card or had found more forms for me to fill out, but I was sadly mistaken. Her actual reason for summoning me was to inform me I didn’t have an appointment … again. I politely disagreed and told her I’d made the appointment within an hour of the last time they’d canceled me for an imaginary reason.
She looked at the screen and shook her head, saying, “No, you didn’t call.”
I have an extensive experience in making mistakes and forgetting important details. So unless there’s physical danger or financial ruin associated with someone else’s errors, they don’t typically get me too riled up. But her insistence that I hadn’t called, unwillingness to consider that the mistake could have been theirs and thorough ignorance of the concept that the customer is always right was beginning to piss me off … especially as the tone of her voice made it clear that she was just as frustrated by my refusal to accept “you’re not in the computer” as a valid reason for why I had no business being being there.
“And just how does one go about getting in the computer, Tron?” I later thought might have been funny to ask. But hampered by severe annoyance, the best I could come up with at the time was asking if she could squeeze me in since I was already there. Considering that the waiting room was occupied by me, a dying ficus and a couple of tumbleweeds blowing down a dusty, deserted road, her explanation that they were too busy to see me made perfect sense and seemed not in the least disingenuous.
Since just missing the opportunity to make a Tron reference has me on the verge of a lengthy explanation and discussion of my second favorite French term, l’esprit d’escalier, I feel it would be prudent to wrap things up now. But I would be remiss in doing so without first acknowledging that in identifying idiots, I may have initially cast certain aspersions a bit wider than was necessary. So I’d just like to clarify that when I said “people are idiots,” I didn’t mean people people or all people, I was actually referring to the-receptionist-at-that-eye-doctor’s-office people.
Also, if anyone can recommend a good ophthalmologist, I’m currently in the market for a new one …