Sunday, September 17, 2017

T-Shirt Collection: Oakland Raiders

Going into today's game with a 1-0 record (and yes ... the season is young yet) I figured this was an appropriate shirt to wear today ...

.......... Ruprecht (STOP)

Friday, September 15, 2017

I'm An Honorary Mayor Of Simpleton

I can't have been there when brains were handed round
Or get past the cover of your books profound
And some of your friends think it's really unsound
That you're even seen talking to me ...

- Mayor Of Simpleton

It seems I'm racking up quite a few notifications and acknowledgments for various projects, publications and the like.

Here's another wee contribution. Coincidentally, this publication (an anthology of "Limelight," the XTC fanzine brought to life and published for about 10 years beginning in the early 1980s) was received in the mail on the anniversary of XTC's "Drums And Wires" release in 1979. It was the first of the band's albums I picked up (on vinyl no less) and the one which ushered me into my continuing love affair with their voluminous output. 

.......... Ruprecht ( STOP ) 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

T-Shirt Collection: New York Press Tony Millionaire

And you thought my T-shirt collection entries stopped long long ago, didn't you? Fat chance. There's plenty more where those came from.

Such as this one featuring the New York Press, illustration by none other than comic artist Tony Millionaire of "Tony Millionaire's Sock Monkey" and "Maakies" fame, various album and magazine covers and more.

Can't tell you where I got it or how long I've had it but the reverse of the shirt denotes "1996."

.......... Ruprecht ( STOP ) 

Friday, September 8, 2017

Mission: Accomplished

It started out on Friday morning just like this: 

"Dear Great Clips:

I appreciate your service, inexpensivity and the convenience of your nearby locale when I require a haircut. (And believe you me, I need one currently.)
However, I will *not* use your mobile application to make a reservation or, as you described it, "check in." Because I choose *not* to.
I want to call you, book an appointment to save time and be in and out in short order. For whatever reason I've been told you don't deal with person to person calls. This annoys me.
When I come down there today, we'll get this situation straightened out.
Sincerely, Michael"

Not long afterward I high-tailed it down to the local Great Clips. Upon entering, I was greeted by one of the four cosmologists already working on other clients: "Welcome to Great Clips! Someone will be with you in just a moment." I okayed in response and stood waiting at the front desk. 

It was all of fifteen seconds when one of the girls came up to help me: "Did you check in off our app?" she asked. "I did not" I responded. "All right. Have you been in before? Can I get you phone number?" I gave her my cell number which wasn't on file as it turned out. "Let's try my home number" I told her. That didn't work either. "I guess I'm not in the system after all" I confessed. "No problem. It will be about a ten or fifteen minute wait. You can take a seat ..." I made myself comfortable and opened a book I'd brought to while away the time.

Three people went ahead of me before my name was called some ten or fifteen minutes later. A bright, cheery gal escorted me to a seat in the middle of the place and draped me in a protective poncho. 

"What are we doing today?" she asked.

"Well, you can see I'm a mess. I haven't had a haircut in a couple months and it shows. Even when I did get it cut, it wasn't enough. So ... let's get rid of half of what you see, how about that?" I profferred. 

She began wetting down my hair and combing it out. "Oh, I've seen much worse. This is no problem at all." And as she began her task the conversation blossomed.

She'd been busy for the entire morning and it was only eleven o'clock. Add to that she was smack dab in the middle of preparing for a wedding, her second. Her fiance, she told me, would be fine with a simple justice of the peace but she wanted something more. No big weddings though because it was too much work and she had 26 cousins and if you added all their families into the mix there would be 250 people in attendance minimum. And that was just on her side of the family ... and it didn't even include friends. Plus her two boys were anxious to be in the wedding and her fiance's boy had never been in one, poor thing, so they compromised and a small wedding with a mere 25 guests was decided upon. The boys were all looking forward to wearing tuxedos and they had picked out matching black Vans shoes to wear and colored bowties, too. Oh, and they've been complaining why they can't come on the honeymoon. And that's where her mother really came to the rescue because she laid down the law to the boys there would be no hangers on at the honeymoon, something they were disappointed in but finally understood.

In the midst of all this (there was lots more, but you get the idea), I managed to congratulate her and glad talk her about it being important she stood for what she wanted and how it was necessary, especially on the second time around, to do what she wanted, nothing wrong with being a little selfish. After all, wisdom ruled out in this situation. She agreed. 

She asked about me and if I had any kids and I told her a bit. Overall, we got along swimmingly and, before you know it, my haircut was complete and I approved of it.

"All right then. Did I overhear you weren't in our system?" she asked as I got up from the chair. I verified she had heard correctly.

"I thought I was in there but I was apparently wrong," I confessed. "I'd tried to call earlier to book an appointment but someone told me Great Clips doesn't do that. I find that a bit strange."

"How about we put you in our system for the next time? It will make things easier." I decided to give in. "Plus, you can always use our app to make an appointment."

"I don't like using applications" I told her. "A good old fashioned phone call is fine by me."

She asked me the requisite questions to get my basic information down, plucked away at the keyboard and in a matter of moments told me I was all set.

And that's when I went in for the kill. "Can you tell me, is there an area in my profile there for special notations or some such?"

"Why yes, there is. Can I add something for you?"

"You can. Can you put down 'Michael's special and appreciates calling via phone to make appointments. Please accommodate him.'"

"If you download our app on your phone, it's real simple to make a reservation there," she told me once more.

"I don't use applications," I noted. "But let me see if I have this straight: By using the application to make an appointment, your system pings you and let's you know I'm coming, right? And, on my end, it gives me some sort of heads up how long it will be before I can get a seat for a cut, correct?"

"Yes, exactly" she replied.

"Well ... what if your power goes out? You won't get that ping. those 'check ins' won't be logged. And even if I did use the Great Clips application I wouldn't get through. You won't have that same problem with a phone, you see. It works on a different system. And if Great Clips trusts you enough to juggle 'check ins' with an application I'm sure a little one on one customer service isn't too much of a stretch, am I right?"

"I guess" she said with the slightest bit of hesitation. 

"I mean, you're in the customer service arena. That's what you do! So, terrific! Then the next time I need a haircut I'll call up, have whoever answers look up my profile and they can read my special note and I'm all set. You've got to love how easy that is! I mean, I do! One of the reasons I like coming here. It beats swinging my old man cane round and round above my head," I told her. 

She relented. "All right, Mr. Noble. We've got you covered" she said with a smile.

I paid my bill, congratulated her once again on her pending nuptials and wished her a good rest of the day. I gave her a big, goofy, toothy grin. She smiled back at me.

Mission: Accomplished.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

When The Cash Price Doesn't Cut It

You'd think filling a prescription wouldn't be any big deal? Apparently that's not the case. There's more to it than that.

Is this something I should know as an adult? Did they teach it in school and I simply wasn't paying attention that day? Was there some aged wisdom my mother and father should have passed down to me about dealing with pharmacies? Or is it something else entirely? Because I don't remember anyone telling me there were specific rules or regulations when you first begin taking any sort of medications outside of noting how to take the stuff or consulting a pharmacist if you have questions.

But this story goes beyond that ...

There comes a time in just about everyone's life when age and all its wonders and annoyances begins catching up to you and starts fiddling with your delicate inner workings. Sometimes this is a good thing. More often than not, however, it isn't. 

In my case, I've finally succumbed to what's been passed down to me through genetics: Hypertension. Or, more exactingly, high blood pressure. My mother had it. A vast majority of my relatives on the upper limbs of my family tree had it. I figured I would have to deal with it sooner or later. Now? Firmly planted in my second 50 years of life its decided to rear its head and introduce itself.

It's a simple fix, corrected with a simple high blood pressure medication. No big deal.

So ... after a physical and consultation with my doctor, she prescribed such and asked me where I wanted the prescription filled. "Walgreens I suppose" I told her. "It's right down the street. That seems pretty convenient."

And that's where it was sent. I went in a few days later, handed whoever was helping me my insurance information and answered a few basic questions to get me in the system.

Now, mind you, this is the very first time I've ever had to take any sort of prescribed medication. I've been pretty healthy all my life, reasonably fit, strong and able-bodied. So this whole medication monkey business was something new I was going to have to work into my regular routine: One pill in the morning, continue for six months, then head back to the doctor to check on any progress. Refills are scheduled once a month.

"You're all set, Mr. Noble. We'll contact you when your prescription is ready" I was informed by the Walgreens lady helping me. A day later I had the stuff in my hands.

And then, about a month later, I refilled the prescription. And picked it up. And again. And again. 

But it was the fifth time, refilling it once more, when the confusion began:

"Okay, Mr. Noble ... I have your prescription right here. Hmmmmmm ... you know you're paying the cash price for this, right?" a lady in dalmatian scrubs alerted me.

"Well, yeah ... of course. What else would I be paying? My insurance affords me the best cost for the stuff, right?"

She looked at me with all seriousness. "No. Not when your insurance isn't accepted here."

"What?" I said with a start.

"Your insurance isn't accepted at Walgreens. You're paying full price for this medication. You'd probably get it for less somewhere else at a pharmacy that accepts your insurance."

I was flabbergasted. "Waitaminnit ... this is the fifth time I've come in here for this stuff, for 5 months. And this is the first I've heard that my insurance isn't accepted. Why wasn't I informed from Day One?" (I already knew the answer to this question, that they weren't able to tell me.)

"I can't tell you, I don't know. Has your insurance been altered? May I see your card to verify what you have?"

I dug out my wallet and handed her my insurance card. A moment or two went by and she confirmed: "No, we do not accept your insurance. I suggest your contact your provider and get a listing of pharmacies who do. Do you still want this prescription?"

"Yes, thank you," I told her and handed her the $16.00 I'd been forking over for the past 5 months per usual. She handed back my card to me with my pills. 

Of course as soon as I got home I was on the horn to my insurance. I explained the dilemma. "That's right ... Walgreens - and WalMart for that matter - isn't in our plan. CVS, Rite Aid and several others are. I see you have those locally ..."

"Can you tell me what I can expect to pay at those locations?" I asked her. 

"I'm not quite certain as it depends on the location ... but around $3.25 is my best guess" she replied. 

"Okay," I said. "So now what do I do?"

"You have a few options: You can go to either of those locations or you can start a mail order for your prescription. The mail order allows for a 90 day supply at zero cost to you if you decide that route," I was informed.

"You mean I could have been getting this stuff for free if I wanted?!?"

"Yes" the woman said cheerfully.

I thanked her for her time and set down the phone feeling a bit violated.

I immediately called Walgreens. "Who can I speak with about a problem with my medication?" I asked someone from the pharmacy.

"Jodi is the person to speak with. But she's not hear right now. Can I leave a message and have her get back to you?"

"Please do that," I requested.

I didn't hear back from Jodi after a couple days. The better part of a week went by where I left multiple messages for her. Responses to those messages? Zero. Zip. Zilch. So I schlepped my carcass down to Walgreens one morning. I knew Jodi would be working that day because I'd asked previously when she was in.

She was there. I spun my tale. She let me know she would pass it along to the store manager - Cameron - who would get back to me.

Another week went by where I left multiple messages for Cameron. (Tell me if you've heard this story before.) Responses to those messages? Zero. Zip. Zilch. So I schlepped my carcass down to Walgreens at the end of that week on a Friday to hunt him down. I knew he would be there as I had previously discussed his schedule with Jodi.

Face to face with the man, I explained my situation calmly to him and then launched into what I wanted done about the situation as I handed him a type-written sheet:

"I've documented the dates and costs of all my purchases and taken the liberty of doing the math had I paid what my insurance informed me I should probably be paying. The difference is almost $64.00. I'm looking for reimbursement for that amount for my time and effort," I stated.

"I'm sorry for the trouble, Mr. Noble. I will look into this and discuss it with my regional manager and get back to you. One thing though: You purchased that fifth prescription at $16.00 knowing you could get it for less?"

"Correct. At the time I was running low and hadn't a clue when I got into this process how long the situation would take to deal with. I decided to bite the bullet and get it, even though I was paying an inflated price. I still expect reimbursement for that one in there in light of the fact none of my phone calls were ever returned by either you or Jodi," I explained. "Understand I'm not pleased with the service I've been given thus far, let alone the fact I wasn't informed from the outset my insurance wasn't honored here. That was what got the ball rolling. The only part I'm happy about is finally speaking with someone face to face about my position. Frankly, up until my coming in here and discussing this with you, Walgreens customer service leaves much to be desired. A resolution to this may redeem that position," I admonished.

He took my contact number. I stuck out my hand to shake his, thanked him for his attention and told him I looked forward to hearing back from him as soon as possible.

The next day I received a message. I could come down to Walgreens any time to pick up a cash reimbursement.

Afterward: The following day I put in the remainder of my prescription with Rite Aid. Cost of the stuff there? A mere $1.58 for 30 little pills.