• John McGary

Say you want a resolution …

I had a rotten New Year’s Eve. Or rather, I had a rotten first half of New Year’s Eve. The day began with a call to my doctor’s office to see if they could get me into a local clinic for an X-ray of my shoulder. Of course, the doctor already knew an X-ray wasn’t needed, because torn rotator cuffs don’t show up on X-rays. However, the insurance company said the X-ray (and co-pay) must come first, then, if necessary, the MRI (and co-pay), and then, if necessary, a visit to an orthopedist (and co-pay). There was some urgency involved: At midnight, my contract with that particular health insurance company would expire, and my new plan would be even less generous. My doc’s nurse practitioner told me she sent the clinic the information, so I drove there, arriving about 11:30 a.m. – which was, I learned later, only a half-hour before they closed. Inside the office, there were three smaller offices. The left and right offices, doors open, were occupied by clinic employees, each speaking to a patient. The middle office, door closed, was occupied by a young woman who looked out at me several times, each time returning her attention to her computer monitor. After several minutes, I walked up to the office on the left, apologized for interrupting, and asked the employee whether the woman in the middle office helped patients, too. He called her, then hung up the phone and told me she was on break. A minute later, she walked out of the office. Five minutes later, she returned, asking, “You’ve been here the whole time?” I wasn’t sure what that meant, and resisted the temptation to say, “Yep, and you were apparently on break the whole time.” She checked her computer and said she could find no record of my doctor’s X-ray request. I told her his nurse practitioner had assured me that she’d sent it to them. The young lady acknowledged that it was possible the request had been sent to her clinic’s headquarters in Louisville, and tried to contact someone there. She couldn’t. Meanwhile, my doctor’s office had closed, what with it being noon on New Year’s Eve. The young lady called the X-ray office to see if a worker there might be willing to stay a few extra minutes while she tried to find the X-ray request. No one answered. She told me that her office closed at noon, too, adding unhappily that while her two co-workers were leaving then, she had to stay the entire day. I did not curse, but I’ll admit to thinking very bad thoughts about her, her clinic, the X-ray department, and the health insurance giant with which I’d soon no longer be doing business. I drove to work, stopping at Kroger World to fill up my gas tank using a $100 Visa credit card Mom gave me for Christmas. I swiped the card at the pump. Nothing happened. I took the card to the booth and asked the employee to give me $40 worth of gas. He swiped it once, twice, three times, then told me the card had no balance. I did not curse, but … I drove into work and called the toll-free line of the gift card company. After waiting on hold for 25 minutes via speakerphone, I had to use the bathroom. I returned to my office to see that someone had answered while I was in the bathroom, then hung up. I called the number again, resolving to wait until Hell froze over or I went potty in my chair. Thirty minutes later, a human answered the phone. She took my gift card number, did some research, then told me the gas pump had put a hold on the card, and that the $96-plus balance would return to the card by Jan. 13. I did not curse, but … I called Kroger World, found a manager and asked him if there was a way for them to take the hold off my gift card. He said he couldn’t. Then, God bless him, he told me he’d be happy to exchange my gift card for a new one. I told him he’d restored a bit of my faith in humanity, just in time for the new year. Later that evening, a minute or so before midnight, I pressed the wrong button on a cable remote and turned everything off. The box had to reset itself, and as was the case at the clinic, the clock was ticking. I did not curse. I laughed. With 24 seconds remaining, order was restored and I, like hundreds of millions around the world, saw the ball land softly in Times Square atmidnight. (I still think they should drop it for the last 100 feet.) Hello, 2016. Goodbye, rotten insurance company, X-ray clinic, employee on break and Visa gift card. And Happy New Year to all my Dear Readers.

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