Friday, May 13, 2016

Complete And Utter Bullshit



It's going to take me a bit to get to the "bullshit" part so bear with me.

Monday, I puttered on down to the gas station to get some gas for the riding mower. I had time to mow the property, the overgrowth was threatening to take over the household and the backyard could hold a family of mountain lions and we'd never know it because nature was out of control.

Gas cans filled to the brim and packed away, I got back into the Camry, turned the key and ... zippo.

Not a single thing. No turn over, nothing.

Now, the car's been a little temperamental of late. Once in awhile at a stop sign it will die. But it will start right back up again. I figured that was a fuel line thing, something that simply needed to be cleaned out.

This time, however, I didn't even get a turnover of the engine. And in my experience that usually means one of two things: Dead battery or an alternator gone bad. And I knew it wasn't the battery.

Now, to be fair, the car does have better than a quarter million miles on it. It is getting a tad cranky. But it's a trooper. Toyotas are made that way. I've owned a few and they bip and bop along pretty reliably. I gave the vehicle a brief respite while I counted to 10 then keyed the ignition once again.

Nothing. I sighed.

I called my better half to get our AAA card number and the roadside services number (I gave up my AAA membership a year ago - no sense paying for two of them in the same household) and asked her to be on standby in the event I needed a ride back home if AAA couldn't accommodate me. "They may not let you order a tow with my card" she informed me. "I may have to call them myself and be there."

"I've never had a problem with them previously in this situation. I'll call back to let you know ..." I said and hung up. I immediately dialed up the AAA.

"I need to arrange a tow back to my house, please." I informed the gentleman who came on the line.

"What seems to be the problem with your vehicle?"

"It won't start. Pretty sure it's an alternator issue."

"Can I get your card number and name, please?"

I gave them both, telling him it was not my name on the card.

"We won't be able to schedule a tow unless the card holder is at the location of the vehicle, sir," he informed me.

"Where I want the car towed is barely 2 miles distant to our home," I told the guy. "The card holder works out of the house and couldn't come down here to attend to the situation. When the car is towed back to the residence, she'll be more than happy to present the card and sign anything that needs signing," I explained.

"I still can't schedule a tow, sir. The towing company won't allow it and AAA can't authorize it. The card holder must be present."

"Even though the vehicle is being towed to the card holder's location?" I asked. "As I mentioned, she is unable to be with vehicle currently as she she works from home."

"I'm sorry. The card holder must be present."

"And there's no way you can schedule this based on what I'm telling you? I guarantee she'll be at the location when the car arrives."

"I'm sorry sir. I can't do that."

"Tell you what: I'll personally guarantee her presence and give you $100.00 if she's not there when the car arrives. I'm not trying to pull anything over on you, I'm just trying to facilitate the situation being I'm between a rock and a hard place right now."

I got the same song and dance. "I still can't do that. The towing company won't allow it. We won't allow it."

"I've done this previously without any problem," I told the dude. "What's changed?"

"Sir ... we simply can't do it. If the card hold is there, we can arrange a tow."

"If it's a question of the towing company having a problem with it, I'll guarantee the tow place $1,000.00 cash money if she isn't available when the car is dropped off."

"Can't do it, sir."

"And this is policy?" I asked, frustrated.

"Yes, sir."

"Fine. Thank you for your time." I said a bit huffily and hung up the phone.

By coincidence it just so happened I was parked directly across from a AAA satellite office so I ventured in to plead my case. The helpful woman I spoke with gave me the same story, albeit with an apology and a heaping helping of sympathy. I thanked her, telling her I at least had to try.

I was defeated. We'd just have to come back later when we had time to deal with the situation.

As mentioned, I've been in this exact same scenario before. I've used my card for relatives and friends when their cars needed a tow and I was present. I even had my ex make the call when she was stranded and she used my card number without issue. It was on my account, no big deal. But, obviously, AAA's policies have changed. (Or so I thought.)

Later that afternoon when we were free, the call to AAA was made yet again and a tow was arranged, simply by providing the card number. Nothing more.

When the truck arrived, "Glen" was extraordinarily helpful. He tried a few tricks to see if he could coax the car to life to no effect. He had no problem towing it but if there was a way to get the vehicle started without putting a report on the card's record that would be the better option.

His bag of tricks exhausted, Glen backed up the truck and hitched up the car. He had the address it was going to and said he would meet us there.

15 minutes later the Camry was tucked away exactly where I requested. Glen waved and told us to have a nice day.

"Hold on," I called. "Don't we need to sign anything?"

"Nope. It's all done electronically. Just needed the card number and I already got that from AAA."

I felt my temperature rise slightly at the thought I had been given the runaround along with a load of crap from the guy I originally talked to earlier that morning. Glen didn't even verify who we were. The card used could have been from the other side of the country for all anyone cared and it didn't make a bit of difference.

You see ... I wasn't attempting to pull one over on anyone. I just wanted to get done what needed to be done in a timely manner with a minimum of downtime. The AAA guy on the phone that morning decided it was a better idea to unload a bullshit story on me. And that pissed me off.

Time to write a letter to The Powers That Be at AAA and get huffy. If it truly is policy, I understand that. But that's not what took place. don't lie to me. If it's not policy, where was the harm in doing it my way?

I'll be finding out soon enough ...


.......... Ruprecht ( STOP bullshitting me )

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Turns Out "Eye'm" Just Fine

Warning: You are hereby warned the following contains content which may cause those with weak constitutions possible bouts of uncomfortability.

Me speaking inside my head
Voice Inside My Head #1
Voice Inside My Head #2

"Well ... we're looking forward to this. It appears you are, too, being you arrived 10 minutes early."

"Shut up. I don't like being late ... you know that. It has nothing to do with looking forward to it. I'm about to have my eye violated. You think I'm looking forward to that?"

"You were the one who made the appointment. Don't get snippy with us."

I arrived at the doctor's office for my eye surgery promptly at 11:10 a.m. Tuesday. 

I was calm enough. I've never been not squeamish, I'm not afraid of blood or needles, I can tolerate a fair amount of pain and the thought of undergoing a minor surgical procedure while awake didn't disturb me in the least. The thing I was twitchy about? It was going to take place in plain sight, literally. Right smack dab in front of me. I was having work done on my eyelid and I would be witness to the entire thing.

"The doctor said he was giving you a local. You won't feel a thing. We'll see if that holds true."

"I realize that. I'm not concerned about that. It's just I'm subjecting myself to violation of my Eye Rule, that's all ..."

"Grow a pair, big boy. You'll weather the storm just fine. And, if not, you'll still have one good eye."

"I know I will. Can the chatter. Both of you."

A bit after the appointed time, I was shuttled into a surgical room and was seated among various equipment. The nurse who escorted me told me to sit and handed me a release form, explained it to me and asked me to sign it when I had read it. I scanned it and added my John Hancock. "Any questions before the doctor comes in?" she asked.

"No ... other than I'm still having a hard time believing this is nothing more than a cosmetic procedure when I have pain and irritation, one of the reasons I'm subjecting myself to this ..."

"Did you inform the doctor of that?"

"Yes, as well as the nurse who scheduled my appoint last week."

As we were discussing this the doctor walked in. The nurse looked up at him, then back at me.

I continued. "I'm still going to aggressively look into the situation and pursue reimbursement for the procedure," I told her.

The nurse looked back at the doctor and asked him something I didn't quite catch.

"We're not going to do that," the doctor replied as he turned to me and asked how I was doing.

"Fine," I responded. "Looking forward to this being over."

"It shouldn't be any problem. Again, you're going to get a local, then I'll get to work. Just try and relax." He stood over me, looked me in the left eye and suddenly held up a syringe. "This might sting a bit. Try not to move. I'm going to clean around your eye with iodine."

"You're in for it now."

"I'll be fine. Don't try exacerbating the situation."

Iodine dripped down my face and he caught it with gauze. A pause, then it was go time. A needle came into view.

Suddenly, I yelled inside my head:


"Unclench your hands and concentrate on keeping them open. That might help."

As the needle came closer, it went out of focus. That was a bit of a relief. Then, all of a sudden, I felt the sting of it. Then again. And again. And again. And once more.

Honestly, it wasn't that bad. I've poked myself in the eye and it's hurt worse. Still, I was flinching and blinking furiously. Stuff comes near my eyes and I go into hyperdrive.

"I remember you telling me you're sensitive about your eyes," the doctor said while working. "That's natural to everyone. We have a predisposition about our eyes ..."

"I'm several points higher than your average everyone," I confessed to him. "I'll do my best not to blink, though." He smiled.

A minute or so went by while he fiddled with items on a tray beside him. Then he prodded my eyelid with something. "Feel anything?" he asked.

"Not a thing," I told him.

"That's the first thing they ask before they remove the eye, you know ..."

"Shut! Up! I'm having a growth removed, not my eye!"

"He could slip. How old is this dude, anyway?" 

I sighed.

"Okay ... here we go" the doctor announced. Another implement came in view. I didn't recognize it. I felt him tug on my eyelid, but it was a dull sensation, I barely felt it. Fortunately I didn't feel any cutting or scraping as he began removing the papilloma on the edge of my eyelid.

He worked for some minutes, daubed at my eye, then came at me with yet another tool.

"Almost finished," he announced. "We're just going to close this up."

"Crap! You know what that is, don't you?!?"

Suddenly I saw smoke tendrils snaking up into the air.

"CRIPES! SMOKE! Smoke's coming from my eye!" 

I didn't feel anything but suddenly there was that familiar tang of singed flesh in the air. It was cauterizing time. I'd forgotten about that. I concentrated on my hands to make certain they were unclenched. They were.

And then ... he was done. "I'm just going to put on some ointment and you're free to go. Any complications - and I don't expect there to be any - just give the office a call," he offered.

"Well, that was no fun. I was looking forward to some hysterical dramatics."

"We should know better. He talks big talk that that's going to happen but he rarely delivers on the promise. Try as we might, you know it's difficult to get to him ..."

"What a jerk ..."

I ignored the voices and spoke to the doctor. "Thank you. Hope I wasn't too twitchy. On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being worst, that entire procedure was a .5, doc. And that was appreciated." He smiled and waved me off.

"Okay, you're free to go. I'll accompany you out," the nurse told me.

I got up out of the chair and followed her out. We got to an interior reception area, she handed a file to someone behind a computer and told me to call if there were any problems or concerns.

"Wait ... what about payment?" I asked her.

"It's taken care of. No need."

I was surprised. Abundantly so.

I got to my vehicle and looked in my rear view mirror. It looked as if I'd been in a fight. But I wasn't in any pain. I could feel swelling, a touch of numbness, I was black and blue from the shots but unexpectedly comfortable.

And ... I still had use of my eye ...

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

Monday, May 9, 2016

Rule Violations

Several months ago my left eye began bugging me. I thought there might be some speck in it that found a comfortable home and I rubbed it and rubbed it.

Days and weeks went by and the irritation I felt, though minor, was becoming tiresome.

A thorough self examination revealed I had a small bump growing on my bottom left eyelid. It was nothing more than a small growth but I came to notice, in addition to the irritation, it was starting to play with my peripheral vision. Naturally, I did a lot of research.

To the best of my understanding, what I had on my eyelid was nothing more than a common eyelid papilloma, an often benign epithelial growth. Still, an appointment with an ophthalmologist was in order and I made one, just to be sure.

Now, I have rules. Lots of them, actually. Two big rules are these: "No sharp or burning objects near the groin" and "the only thing that belongs in your eye is your elbow." I think they're good rules, rules that make sense. I'm sure many of you would agree - pretty good rules.

Additionally, I wear glasses. I have since my mid-twenties. Just for distance. I'm near-sighted. When I drive, especially at night, or go to films or concerts, I wear them. No contacts for me, though - that would be a direct violation of that one rule about things in your eye.

Anyway, knowing this, you'd think going to an eye doctor would make me nervous or anxious. It doesn't. I'm very calm leading up to an appointment and I explain myself very carefully to whoever might be coming near my eyes when there. They simply need to take things slowly. Because I'm twitchy about my eyes. So long as we have an understanding, I can control any ocular anxiety.

Being this was the first appointment with this particular ophthalmologist, routine testing was necessary. Several tests as a matter of fact. Including that intraocular pressure test to determine if you may be at risk of (or have) glaucoma.

Inwardly I cringed a little. I warned the nurse about to give me the IOP test I was "things-in-my-eye" phobic.

Somehow I weathered through it.

"See? That wasn't so bad," she said. "Now, switch eyes so we can do the other one, Mr. Noble."

One eye? I can handle. But repeated with the other eye I knew what was coming.

I knew for certain a razor sharp, eight-inch gleaming steel needle was coming out the portal I was to look into which would go right through my eye and pierce the back of my skull.

I tried to keep my eye open ... really I did. But I kept blinking, closing it, fluttering it in anticipation of that air puff. I probably started sweating, I don't remember. But the nurse administering the test was patient with me. Still, I knew she'd loaded that extra sharp needle; I could read it on her face: she knew I was going to be a problem child and that second eye was going to take forever. Revenge would be hers for me wasting her time with my needless blinking.
Some minutes later (it felt longer), and to my great relief, I realized she hadn't loaded that needle after all. I came out of the test none the worse for wear. Mostly.

I was shuttled down a hall to a private room and waited in an examination chair for the doctor. Meanwhile another nurse took information from me. She asked me if I wore glasses, any eye problem history, asked why I was there, blah blah blah. She had me look at an eye chart, handed me an eye cover to hold over one eye and asked of me the smallest line I was able to read.

"Didn't I explain to you I'm practically blind without my glasses?" I blurted. "I might be able to make out a few of the characters on the first line if you're lucky" I commented, squinting at the line with the largest letters. "Let's see ... 'O' ... uhm ... I think that's a 'V' ... maybe ... that next one is the letter 'B' with a number '3' backed up against it ... and I have no idea what alien language that next character is" I told her. I switched eyes. "Um ... that's one of those highway signs that has the lines indicating 'slippery when wet' ... and for the life of me I can't make out any of the others" I confessed. She had me put my glasses on. I could see everything on the smallest line perfectly and told her so. She finished adding information to my file, excused herself and told me the doctor would be in momentarily.

I sighed and relaxed. The doctor came in a minute later, introduced himself, shook my hand and asked me the reason for my visit. After jawing at him for a few minutes he said "Let's have a look, shall we? Let's see what your right eye looks like first ..."

When he got to my left eye, he looked at it silently and quietly. "Yep ... that's what it is. A simple papilloma. Oh ... that's strange" he commented all of a sudden. I resisted questioning him until after he was finished.

"What's strange?" I asked when he was done.

"Nothing really," he said. "There are just some interesting fronds coming off it is all. Is it bothering you now?"

"Yes ... and it's irritating at times. It's grown larger over the last few months, ever since I first noticed it. It hurts here and there and I see it in my peripheral vision. I thought I better come in and have it checked."

"So ... we're going to schedule it for removal then, yes?"

"Yes. Please tell me what's involved ..."

"It's a simple procedure. We numb your eyelid, similar to when a dentist gives you Novocaine, then we scrape it off. You'll be fine. Outpatient procedure, no downtime. I'll prescribe an ointment. That's it. Pretty simple stuff ..."

"Yeah ... but there will be a scalpel coming at my eye I have to contend with" I told myself silently.

"We can schedule it as soon as next week if you like. The nurse will arrange it at your convenience" he told me as he left.

"Thank you. I'll see you then."

The nurse scheduled me for Tuesday, May 10th at 11:20 a.m. 

Doomsday. The day I lose an eye.

"Just have $120.00 available for the procedure when you come back in," the nurse told me.

"Insurance doesn't cover this?"

"No. It's considered cosmetic."

"So ... it's irritating me, I can see it growing, it has the potential to become something dangerous and it could blind my eyesight if I just let it continue doing its thing. That's considered cosmetic?" I asked, probably over animatedly.

"Unfortunately yes," she told me.

"What do I have to do to contest that? Because what I've said doesn't sound 'cosmetic' to me. I humbly request it be billed to my insurance, please. If they reject it, I'll deal with it then."

"I'd be happy to do that for you, Mr. Noble. In order for us to proceed, however, the cost will be in place at the time of the procedure. If you're successful with your argument, your insurance will reimburse you."

So Tuesday morning, the 10th? I'll be paying $120.00 to have my blood pressure raised, to violate one of my most important life rules and to possibly go blind.


.......... Ruprecht The Future One-Eyed ( STOP )