Thursday, December 12, 2013

Can We Talk?

Apparently we can't communicate, despite all the talk.

It all started with a faint beeping sound, sometime in the evening.  It sounded just like the coffeemaker when it's telling you it's done, but that was far away and about twelve hours too early.  It happened again the next night, and seemed to be coming from my left collar bone area.  It occurred to me, after checking my phone, the smoke detectors and everything else that might have beeped, that my implanted device (sort of like a pacemaker) was trying to tell me something.

The next day was Monday, and I took myself and my little bionic-man implant to the cardiologist's office, where they coincidentally enough had just had a cancellation of an 8:15 a.m. appointment in the "pacer clinic," as the little room where they monitor these things is called.  The pacer lady was most annoyed that I had just showed up, probably because I had messed up her anticipated free 15 minute break, but I said I was concerned about the beeping and didn't know what it was.  She confirmed my suspicion that it was a built-in warning that the battery was running low and needed replaced (this unfortunately involves a little outpatient surgery for a whole lot of bucks).  I was surprised that no one had ever told me about this built-in warning, despite so many visits to said clinic.

Now Nancy was in the process of retiring rather abruptly, so we needed to get our health insurance ducks in a row pretty quickly since our coverage would end with the end of November.  And we are organized types who can read and use the telephone and computer reasonably well, so I did not think we couldn't get this done in time.  But I once again had underestimated how difficult it is to get simple things done quickly and efficiently when you're dealing with people who don't give one small damn about getting the details right from the beginning and closing the deal.

I had not only read the huge yearly Medicare booklet thoroughly, but had the page earmarked with the national telephone number to call to sign up for Medicare Part B (I already had Part A, which complicates matters a little).  The lady promised to send me the application, for which I waited three weeks in vain.  Why isn't the simple one-page application provided in the big Medicare booklet?  A minute with the pen and a postage stamp, and it would have been done.

That is, if either the booklet or the person I spoke to had mentioned that the required written statement from the former employer concerning termination date and "creditable coverage" was not actually what was required.  Neither the experienced HR person at Nancy's employer, who asked about "forms" without explanation or the Medicare/Social Security people whom I had spoken to on the 1-800 number a second time mentioned that what was required was a (again, one-page) Medicare form filled out with the same information.  Here's the essential problem:  why oh why won't people who do tasks day after day, year after year, just tell you exactly what's needed the first time?  Why do they somehow like getting many calls and communications from the same client when a precise answer at the beginning, or printed material that is exactly what they want, would prevent such a waste of everyone's time and effort?

Getting inaccurate or mis-information has happened to all of us many times, and I really don't know what defect in human beings or their education causes it.  Don't get me started on written instructions -- no wonder no one reads them.

Enough of the rant.  Things can be done well with less frustration; here are two examples:

* I called Moen's customer service line because the handles on our new bathroom faucets were getting loose and I didn't want to mark them up or break something trying to figure out how to take them off to find what needed tightening.  A young lady answered immediately and gave me quick and perfectly understandable instructions.  This was a rare and wonderful occurance and I do indeed treasure it.

* Despite our lousy weather here, one of the reasons we don't move to a place with lemons and palm trees is that our local township government does such a good job.  The police are always where they need to be amazing quickly, the building codes/inspection people are clear, prompt and fair, and the township robo-calls you with any information you may need -- leaf collection days, storm emergency parking rules, approaching natural disasters and various inconveniences, you name it.  Yesterday, they called to advise of a worrisome situation involving a misguided dude who fired a shot at a State Police officer over a traffic stop.  This was especially relevant since we were planning to drive through that area in a few minutes.  Saved us a lot of waiting in stopped traffic.  Seeing an episode of "Cops" played out in sleepy suburbia might have been fun, though.

1 comment:

  1. If they speak and you cannot understand them, is it a foreign language?