Let It Grow Organic Gardens

And I resumed the struggle. -Vladimir

Friday, January 06, 2006

A Tale of Olde Manhatten

Or, What It's Like To Be At The Mercy of a Bunch of Butt-Heads In the Medical Establishment

It was years ago, and I was visiting a friend of mine in New York. As a result of some circumstance or another, I decided I needed some knitting needles, so I headed off to, where else, Woolworth's.
There I learned that the Woolworth's in New York keep the knitting needles in special cabinets, under lock and key. I began to dread the whole ordeal.
Alright, I have to find a clerk. Drag them over to the cabinet. Get into some kind of arguement with them about unlocking the cabinet ....I mean, this is New York, for Chrissake. Nothing's gonna be easy.
Over in Stationery, I found a sweet little old lady who unlocked the cabinet for me. She showed me examples of some of her preferred needles, and asked me what size I needed. Did I have my pattern with me? Well, this is a good pair - versatile, and reasonably priced.
I was so flabbergasted, I could talk of nothing else for days.
"Someone in Woolworth's was nice to me!"
A decidedly un-New York experience, the natives assured me.

This afternoon, someone with the Texas Board of Worker's Compensation was nice to me!
I gushed with pleasure, promising to send him cases of baby squash, perhaps name a variety of tomato after him, but I succeeded, unfortunately, in leaving him nothing but confused. It's just that I was so shocked. No one - no one - has been in any way friendly or polite since this thing began, let alone helpful.
From the doctor who first saw me at the hospital, walking into the room and looking at me and my friends D* and B*:
Which one is the patient?
Which one is the patient? The one with the gown on, dipshit.
The one with the dazed and scared look on his face.
The one with the fucking bone sticking out of his chest!
To the pencil-pushing assholes - check that, the key-board stroking assholes - who work for the insurance company, to the receptionist at Asheville Bone & Mafia:
Whaddya want?
everyone I've had to deal with since I landed flat on my collar bone clearly has a childhood history of bed wetting and animal abuse.
And wouldn't give a glass of water to a drowning man, as it were.
It's been a process of weeding through phone trees and getting transferred from one department to another and then getting the line cut off and then redailing and then being told they don't have the right forms.
(I take solace, as usual, at my bookshelves. A century ago a man named Kafka wrote of a much saner world.)
I don't know how to speak to these, um, people on the phone. I want to be friendly, but also definite. I want them to like me, and want to help me, but I also need to give the impression that I need my questions answered and I mean it. It's a little like coaxing I* into his car seat.
I was probably using that same tone of voice on the phone this morning. All I wanted was a fax number, and was expecting unpleasantness on the scale of North Vietnamese prison guards, but he actually gave me the fax number! The first time I asked! I stuttered and stammered and thanked him and then stammered some more. I mean, he gave me the fax number!
The first time I asked!
It was like, well, having a cabinet full of knitting needles unlocked.


There have been, I need to add, exceptions. My claims agent, Mr Johnny C*, has been understanding and sympathetic from the start, and pleasant everytime I call him:
How's the shoulder feeling? Better?
And the entire staff at St David's Occupational Health Services in Austin, Texas was friendly, attentive and professional. Props to you all!
David, patron saint of shoulder slings and X-rays, blesses you all, and I will raise a glass to you on his feast day.

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