FRIDAY — John thinks . . . (by John)

. . . the country is becoming more dysfunctional by the day.

Reason One:  I report this because we need to make a modem and wireless network change and if it doesn’t work we may be out-of-contact for a short while.  We got fed up with the phone dial-up connection in the summer of 2008 so before the CWU term started we agreed to unload a bundle of cash and signed on with the local phone company for a high-speed (DSL) connection.  Most everyone I talk to seems to have a bit of a problem with dropped connections and we have been no exception.  The problem has gotten worse.  About six weeks ago the cute little red light on the modem started coming on every time a national politician said or did something that was stupendously stupid.  This finally initiated a response.

Last week we called the Company’s customer’s service line, and this being a national company got someone in North Carolina (we think).  The nice lady looked at our digital records and agreed that the connection was dropping frequently.  This I had just told her.  She said she would write up a ticket on it.  We said “Thanks” thinking this meant someone would do something about it.  By this Friday we hadn’t heard a word and began to wonder what “writing up a ticket” actually meant.  I now think it means that if their caller-ID shows it’s us – no one is supposed to answer it.

This morning I wrote a friendly letter addressed to “internet guru” and carried it into the local office – passed it through a hole in a glass barrier – and left.  I wrote about the mysterious lady from the East Coast “She then told us she would write up a ticket.  We don’t know what that means.  The only tickets we have ever gotten were concert tickets or speeding tickets.  What is a DSL/modem ticket?  When should we get it and what do we do with it once we do get it?

An “internet guru” called a few hours later and suggested our modem was likely worn out – “they only last about 18 months”, she said — and if I would stop by she would have a new one at the front desk for us to install. “Great,” I yelled as I headed for the door.

Reason Two:  I’ve mentioned a bill we’ve gotten.  There were two charges for $110 each.  A month ago, I wrote a letter.  It was a nice letter.  I ended with: “I will send a check upon hearing from you if these are charges I should pay now.”  This week a new billing arrived.  One of the two charges was settled by the insurance company paying $99.60 but they still wanted $110 from us for the other – no explanation included.  Nancy called this morning.  That charge had now been settled by another payment by the insurer and our balance was $0.00.  “Great,” I said, “will you be sending us a statement saying so?”  Does it not seem logical that if they have billed us for $110 but now we don’t owe anything at all that they would tell us.  Oh no.  They don’t send out statements like that.  Nancy shut me up before I got to ask what they would have done with my check for $110, the envelope, and the cancelled 44¢ stamp.  Nancy has an appointment in that office in April.

Reason Three:  Mail.  Forms.  Rules.  Reports. Okay, that’s four things.  We signed up for Social Security in October and Medicare shortly thereafter.  A flood of mailings followed.  Some make sense.  Some are unnecessary.  Some are undecipherable.  Each one has a cost.  To the government.  And to us.  If we can’t determine what we are supposed to do, then it takes a phone call (more cost to them).  One letter this week came and a phone call revealed that in the fine print on page three (or was it page 4) it stated that we could ignore this form (page one said respond in 10 days) if Saturn, Jupiter, and Uranus were all aligned ten degrees right of Pluto on the day it arrived.  Who could have guessed?

Oh, Nancy was back at the hospital for another poke with a needle today and as she sat in her walker the doctor that saw her in the emergency room and instigated the “find the bacteria” blood draw way last year appeared and greeted her as though he’d treated her yesterday.  He is what they call a “hospitalist” and confirms our belief that these folks (all the medical professionals) – are amazingly good at what they do.  She was pleased that she got to relate her ongoing story to him because she thinks of him as the first of the life saving professionals in her life.