HEY, LISTEN UP!


listen

It is amazing how simple one-on-one communication can go so badly that it results in a total disconnect between people, groups of people, even nations of people. I advocate teaching communications as a full-semester course in our high schools.  I would suggest further that a high percentage of its content be concerned with the merits of good listening.   We could all use some lessons in learning how to listen better.  Hey, did you listen to what I just said?

Why, just by coincidence, I had an on-line chat yesterday that is an excellent example of how poor listening can affect whether or not a customer returns to do more business with a company. I had only one question, shown in caps. I don’t need to elaborate…the chat speaks for itself. Here, listen:

Hello, how can I help you?

Me: CAN  YOU CONFIRM THAT I PAID EXTRA FOR FASTER DELIVERY of letterhead that I ordered?  It is still in transit.

Just a moment…

(3-4 minutes go by)

Sorry for the delay. We’re working on getting you connected with an agent as soon as possible. Please bear with us and we will connect you to a member of the Overnight Prints Support Team shortly. Thank you for your patience.

(5-6 minutes go by)

Sorry for the delay. We’re working on getting you connected with an agent as soon as possible. Please bear with us and we will connect you to a member of the Overnight Prints Support Team shortly. Thank you for your patience.

Don:

Hi Marc. Thank you for chatting with Overnight Prints. What is your order number?

Me: hold on please while I get it…2103XXXX…I THOUGHT I PAID A PREMIUM FOR DELIVERY ON THE 9TH which is the date noted on my receipt, but it has not arrived and when I tracked it, it said it won’t be here until tomorrow (2/14)

Don:

Don: One moment while I take a look.

Don: According to UPS it will get delivered on Wednesday [7/15]. If the order is delivered after the estimated delivery date you had requested we can do a partial refund for the shipping difference.

Me: not cool…DIDN’T I PAY EXTRA TO  HAVE IT ON THE 9TH?

Don: I understand your frustration. We are doing all that is possible to get the order to you.

Me: can you please answer my question. I know you cannot correct the situation and I am stuck dealing with a disappointed client, but CAN YOU SIMPLY CONFIRM THAT I PAID A PREMIUM FOR FASTER DELIVERY ON THE 9TH, how much was that and yes I’ll take a refund on that…thank you

Don: Yes it was originally scheduled for the 9th. An internal reprint had to be issued on the order due to production issues.

Me: Don…it is a simple question. Unfortunately, the answer is not on any of the paper work your company has made available to me…sooooo, HOW MUCH WAS THE CHARGE FOR THE PREMIUM DELIVERY?

Don: It was $12.83.

Me: eureka! will that be refunded to me?

Don: You will be able to request a partial refund for the shipping difference.

Me: and how do I do that?

Don: Once you receive the order you can come back to chat and we will do it for you.

Me: well, i guess i will be back at this on Wednesday…I sure hope the order arrives with no other issues….bye.

Don: I apologize I’m not able to do more. Thank you for chatting with us and for choosing Overnight Prints. Have a great day!

Thank you for contacting us.

Chat session disconnected.

—–

Shortly after the chat ended, this showed up:

       How would you rate your chat with Don? [check off number of stars]

stars

I asked the question five times before I got an answer.  Even then it was not a complete answer.  Don told me the shipping charge, but he did not tell me how much of that charge was the extra amount I paid to have delivery by the 9th.  If the company had taken lessons from colleagues like amazon or zappos they should have changed the delivery to overnight status when they finally did ship it, along with sending me an apology e-mail with a refund of the extra bucks I paid.  Needless to say, I didn’t check off any stars and I  am somewhat anxious about exactly what will arrive tomorrow six days late, if indeed, the package does show up on my doorstep.

I have to admit, I order a lot of things via the Internet and I rarely have any problems…but that is exactly why they stick out so much more when they do occur.  Overnight Prints should at least consider changing its name.

*****

Posted in communication, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

OH, WHAT COULD’VE BEEN!


whatusee

I hate it when the product out of the box appears noting like—like totally NOTHING like—its picture on the box. Hold that thought…there’s a little background filler I need to discuss.

I abandoned my ambitions to run for president several years ago. There was a time when I thought I would make a pretty radical president, but that’s been newly redefined lately so maybe it was best I took my hat out of the ring, put it atop my head and walked off into the sunset.

There were some very specific planks to my platform on which my campaign would have been based. I think I may have even discussed them in one of my past postings on this blog. One controversial position was the establishment of Christmas being celebrated only once every three years. This was my gift to troubled gift-givers who fret every year as the short turnaround on Santa’s annual visit seems to come more quickly with each passing.

These are the same people who think the next Christmas will always be better because they’ll have more money the next time. Of course, that never happens.   And it may not happen with a three-year span either, but at least the stress will come less frequently.

It’s the next plank that I want to talk about since the issue once again found its way to my dinner table tonight. My plank is pretty much summed up in the first sentence of this posting. I think a picture on the outside of a product’s packaging should very accurately illustrate what’s inside. I’d make it the law that an actual product rolling off the factory conveyor belt would be randomly selected and photographed for the package cover. No enhancements to the picture would be permitted. The entire consumer product industry would be turned upside down attempting to cope with this new regulation while all of us on the other side of the cash register would have a better idea of exactly what we are buying. The process is called WYSIWYG, what you see is what you get.

fishdishsm2Take Exhibit A for example. Here is a frozen dish put out by The American Halal Company of Stanford, Connecticut. It’s packaged under the name of Saffron Road and this particular selection features Sesame Ginger Salmon with white rice. The dish is certified Halal, is an authentic recipe, the salmon is wild caught and the whole thing is gluten free. On the front panel is a picture of the product, a large portion of which is a savory chunk of salmon lying on a bed of white rice and surrounded by stringy carrots, crispy water chestnuts and green beans. The folks at American Halal call it a “Regal dish for Japanese Royals.” My advice to them is to beware of swinging samurais

As you can see in the picture the regal dish looks nothing like the meal on the box, not even close. The piece of salmon was about one mouthful, not the nice succulent wedge pictured on the package. American Halal should be ashamed.

And guess what? I bet you think it didn’t taste anything like you would imagine, having seen the picture on the box. You guess right. The salmon was rubbery and fishy tasting; the rice was mushy and the green beans limp. Maybe if you were into the 34th day on one of those television survival shows it would be delicious.

As for me, I left the table hungry and angry. This kind of misleading marketing is as shameful as selling bad land to hopeful homebuilders.

Well America, you had your chance. I was going to run, but it’s too late now. I can suggest, however, a good book if you’re interested.

*****

Posted in food, SERIOUSLY, Uncategorized, WHATEVER! | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BACK IN RIVER CITY AND LOVIN’ TROUBLE!


musicman1

Every once in a while you bump into something from your childhood that totally takes you away to a different plateau, one far away from your current foundation. It is exhilarating, refreshing, nostalgic and just plain wonderful. Memories of the time and where you were in it, blossom before you.  You immediately sense a certain euphoria and escape from everything current that’s been bothering  you. You are, at least for the moment, baggage free. Oh what a feeling.

Well, it was time out for me. This post is about where I’ve been and I’m not sure I want to return. For you it may be an old car, a house or school that were once part of your past. Or maybe it’s a shopping center or a summer cottage at the shore. It could be anything. You will know it when it hits you.

What hit me the other day was the song “Ya Got Trouble” from the old Broadway musical, The Music Man. Don’t ask me why. I don’t know.  It was only a moment in decades of moments.  In fact, I never saw the show on Broadway and I am not even sure if I ever saw the movie. I do know that my father’s generation used the phrase, We got trouble right here in River City, in the same context that many of us say, Houston, we have a problem.

Trouble is the song that cements the plot of the The Music Man. It’s the story of Harold Hill, a conman who comes to a small Iowa town and schemes up good reason for the parents to support the founding of a band made up of the town’s youth. Once convinced that music will steer their yougin’ away from sin and evil doings (pool being one of them), the parents will fork over the money for instruments, uniforms and music lessons that Harold—who else?–will sell to them. Trouble is, Harold doesn’t know an eighth note from a Cliffs Note and plans to skedaddle town once the money comes in. Of course, a love interest develops and it muddies up everything.

The Music Man is all so typical 1950’s Broadway Musical that it would normally be buried in my memories never again to surface…except for that damn phrase that my dad—and now me—use to define a troublesome moment. And even just on that, I probably would deep six the whole memory but for one thing…prestonor, actually, for one person. And that’s Robert Preston. He played Harold Hill.  That’s him in the picture.  Preston owned the role of Harold Hill forever (Music Man originally ran for 1,375 performances).

It is Preston’s version of the song, Ya Got Trouble that has smacked me upside the head and set me into my own La La Land. His diction, his style and tone,  his characterization and everything about him–they’re all spot on, as is the incredible choreography of the townspeople. You have to watch it several times to appreciate all the subtleties, the timing, every expression on every person’s face and the attention to details going on in the background. And, BTW, buried deep in that background is a very young boy who then went by the name, Ronnie Howard.  Fascinating, he went on to eventually direct the movie, Apollo 13 from whence comes Houston, we have a problem.  Okay, I get it, you may find all this very old and corny. But, as the saying goes, you had to be there in order to go back now and appreciate it even more. I share with you a classic:  Robert Preston’s rendition of Ya Got Trouble from the 1962 movie version of The Music Man…

Click here:  YA GOT TROUBLE

*****

Posted in Poetry, of sorts, WHATEVER!, whimsy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SIGNING YOUR LIFE AWAY…LITERALLY!


dctorlawyer

Used to be, you were sick, you called your family doctor and he told you to come on over.   Sometimes he’d even come to see you if you were that sick. ‘Dem days are sure over. Today, if you’re thinking about making an appointment with a doctor, it often takes a month or more before you can get one. And, oh yeah, you may want to find a good attorney to go with you, at least on the first visit.

I guess most of us have experienced filling out the forms we’re handed upon arriving for the first time seeing a new doctor. Right on top are one or two documents that deal with your being responsible for buying the doc’s new car this year. Then there’s the privacy statement, the surrogate declaration, the list of meds you’re on, and the always-challenging medical history where you get to strain your brain guessing past dates, doctors’ names, phone numbers and addresses. A new one having to deal with Medicare was slipped into my deck yesterday. I got this last form after the SOLID half-hour I had spent filling out all the others. Okay, so maybe I was brain dead by then. I read it over three times and still did not understand how to fill it out. I got angry with my impatience and forced myself to read it slowly a fourth time. Then I got just plain angry. I decided I’d go up to the window and discuss my inadequacies with the medical receptionist.

What amazes me, and we all do it, is that we are expected to read and digest pages of legalese and unconditional surrender, sign them and then be off on our merry way into the inner chambers of the fully protected, totally un-suable Dr. Billings.   He or she could eventually kill you without missing a stroke on the back nine or interrupting a test drive of the newest Jaguar.   And you—YOU—signed all those papers as if you were giving the doctor permission to order you a cough drop.

Looking from the other side of the examination table, I can understand why doctors have to do this. They have to protect themselves. Now admit it, some of you will sue for millions if you feel the slightest tingle of pain in your pinky following a quadruple by-pass. Me, I’m more tolerant of medical procedures. I don’t get too excited unless I notice my eyeballs have dropped out of my face.

I guess the odds are with us when it comes to signing all the legal papers we have to sift through for most any kind of service we purchase these days. How many of you scroll though miles of legal text for a computer product just to get to the bottom where you instantly click on the “I agree” button? Sure you do. But with legal documents concerning your medical treatment? Sure you do….and so do I. What are you supposed to do? It would take hours of eyestrain and total concentration to read it all and then understand it to boot? And, what if you actually did and objected to some of the things you were asked to sign?  Well, there is no way in hell you’d give up your doctor appointment so easily. Hey remember, it took weeks to get an appointment with this doctor.  Be grateful you’re still bleeding so he knows you’re not faking it. Besides, if you opt out to go to some other repair shop you’ll be faced with the same dilemma. So what to do? There’s not much.

It would be nice if there were one set of universal medical documents that the doctor industry could agree on. These could be available everywhere and you would have plenty of time to review them. Then you’d keep a stack signed and standing by for all your doctor visits. Works for me. You? Well, if not, I suggest you take two aspirin, stay hydrated, lose a few pounds and check back in a month and we’ll see how you’re doin’.

*****

Posted in communication, health | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reality America


tweethome

In the privacy of my home, or within the circle of close friends, my politics will surface.  There isn’t much to them to surface, but I do have opinions at times and I will express them.  I do not offer a well researched debate, especially regarding foreign policy, and I suppose my soapboxing on other issues may be as much emotional as factual.  I am a senior citizen and as such I claim a certain amount of sanctimonious territory in my arguments based on my age:  having “experienced” a full life; having made an incredible amount of mistakes from which to learn; and from just “being there.”

The presidential campaign that has taken place this past year has been one of the most, if not the most, unusual political parades I think I have ever lived through.  And you did have to live through it and choke down every morsel of it if you have any interest in our democracy and how it works.  As an ex-journalist of sorts the campaign took on even more bazaar twists at every turn.  But nothing can compete with the aftermath.  It is almost fitting that the “lift-off” of our country’s new administration this week is actually making the campaign’s shenanigans appear almost trivial.

Personally, I have had a reawakening from all this.  Since I retired I have become less and less of a news-aholic.  I let my newspaper and magazine subscriptions run out, I watch far less television and I really don’t mind being ignorant about many things going on in the world.  Now, all of a sudden, I find myself turning on the news when I wake up and then periodically throughout the day…just to see what new item of curiosity has transpired.  It’s like a reality TV show and I can’t believe I’m caught up in it.  Soon I just might wonder to whom the President will offer a rose …and will he or she accept?

There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that our country’s leadership as we have known it—ever—has definitely taken a turn in an entirely new direction.  I am kind of sitting on the fence, still holding Old Glory in my lap and taking a wait ‘n see approach.  There have been plenty of words that come to mind as I ponder all the “happenings” since inaugural day.  Words like:  refreshing (yes, refreshing), incredible, that’s interesting, reallllly, hmmm, scary and the ever-popular holy sh*t!  A thought also came to me, having lived through the 60s, how some words never meant to be appropriate for this moment, actually are, in a juxtapositioned kind of way…

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’

                      – Bob Dylan

I soaked up every minute of one of our nation’s most traumatic “moments” back in the 1970s. I even lived in Washington at the time of Watergate.  It was high drama every day throughout the Congressional hearings.  Every morning I rushed to see what reporters Woodward and Bernstein had to say as if the Washington Post was a best-seller mystery novel I couldn’t put down.    And then finally, the inevitable and among the most significant presidential announcements in our history:  President Nixon’s resignation.  I, along with millions of others, then watched the newly-sworn in Gerald Ford step up to the microphones eager to hear his very first words as President…and they were:  “Our long national nightmare is over.”  And now, many are wondering, is another one beginning?

So what is this all about?  Well, first of all, as I said, I’m on the fence right now.  I am not looking to stir up a political debate.  If you ask me, it’s about democracy.  It just comes in different clothes this time around.  I am one who has faith in the system. I am one who says the office is greater than the man or woman who holds it.  I am one who believes that if the sails are set too tight and the wind too strong, then the keel will fulfill its purpose and it will right the ship and reestablish proper course if need be.  It is our role to support the system, stand steadfast to our beliefs and have faith in what our country stands for, for no one is above that.  Go watch again the D-Day landing in Saving Private Ryan and  you’ll get my  drift.

*****

Posted in communication, history, politics, Uncategorized, WHATEVER! | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

MY ANNUAL MOMENT OF MISCHIEF


flasogn

I know it’s not nice and I really shouldn’t make fun

But over the years it’s become something I’ve always done.

You see, when you live in Florida in the winter months

You can’t help yourself, even if you’ve done it only once.

It could actually be worse like something really crass

But the main reason I do it, I do it for the laughs.

Yep, when I watch on TV what’s going on up there

It gives me the shivers and a feeling of despair.

Some lasted all night and by morning shut us in.

Now they swell my moment of mischief and make me grin.

And so, it’s with perfect temps and a Florida sun that’s all aglow

That I hang my annual flag that says “Let it snow, let it snow!”

snowflag

*****

Posted in WHATEVER!, whimsy | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

MARC’S SUCCESSFUL WEEKEND!


icecream

What a successful weekend!  First of all, if you know anything about me you know that ice cream ranks #1 on my food chain and, therefore, it is with the utmost euphoria that I discovered two new, GOOD flavors among the Publix premium brand this weekend. Publix, for those not from these parts is “the” supermarket that nicely serves the hunger pangs of most Floridians.  Now, do not consider this a crass commercial plug on my part, but rather think of it as a public service announcement from me to you.  The two flavors are  Mocha Mud Pie and Chocolate Cookie Quarry.  Not only are the packages really cool, the stuff inside was great.  Way to go Publix!

Okay, on to other great things that happened on Marc’s Successful Weekend. Saturday morning  I was wide awake at 3am, but I did not waste the time toss’n and turn’n.  Nope, not me.  Instead, I made chocolate chip cookies from scratch and they turned out perfect…which means they are a disaster for the, ah, diet I’m on.  So, okay, it’s a likable disaster. Nonetheless, I cannot help myself from grabbing one every time I am in the kitchen.  I have been in the kitchen a lot. That’s where they are; that’s where I go.  Normally, I am a very disciplined person…except when it comes to baked goods, especially homemade chocolate chip cookies.   Oh, did  I mention I am supposed to be on a bit of a diet…again.

Next, a funny thing happened during an author webinar I was watching on the internet.  This one dealt with the do’s and don’ts for authors attempting to establish a successful website for the purpose of marketing and selling their book(s). Like 100 others (the host mentioned that number) I had responded in advance to the request that people submit samples of their websites and they would be used to illustrates points made during the webinar.  So out of the aforementioned 100 websites, whose do you think was the very first one to be selected and ripped?   You guess right.  Subsequently, I spent the entire rest of the weekend redesigning my website, but I was having some technical difficulties and “happiness” issues. I was not happy with everything I did  and not everything I did was working properly.  Consequently, I put off making any changes. You can still catch the bad example at http://marckuhn.com

During all my fiddling around with my website I committed the inexcusable, unacceptable, can’t-believe-I-did-that mistake.  I was so involved in the new design I was developing that I did not take the time to save it properly.  And then…and then…well, you can see this coming.  I hiccuped the wrong way and it was all gone.  I am still not sure what I did.  It happened in the last minute of the Green Bay/Dallas game so I was a little distracted, rightly so.  Green Bay won in the last few seconds.  I lost everything in the last few seconds.

But here’s the unusual thing that happened…I did not get upset!   I would normally start throwing electronic equipment across the room or launch coffee mugs off the loft railing onto the masses below and then thrust my thoracic cavity violently against the chimney on the roof.  I did none of those things.  How unlike me.  And that is another reason it was a successful weekend.  I managed to control my computer temper and I made the decision that all the stuff that I produce on the computer, while I previously judged meritorious and worthy of penultimate platitudes, is just more of the same old crap I spend my time doing that nobody really gives a damn about except me.  I am finally getting over all this and I will accept a whole new neutral attitude about my time spent at the computer(s).  This has caused a great release of angst and frustration out from my body and soul and it feels GREAT!  Never again shall I take my blog and websites so seriously.  So what if my website headline is too vague!

Okay, onto the final event of my successful weekend.  I had the beginning of an epiphany!  What’s that you ask? Well, my personal definition of an epiphany is finally, finallllly coming up with even the tiniest inkling of a unique idea for my next book.  After almost an entire year of braindeadness I have at least an idea that I will begin researching.  It may not blossom, but right now it is sprouting roots and taking hold….and it all has to do with this:

isaacmarc

This is a picture I featured on one of my postings a few weeks back.  That’s Isaac on the left.  He’s a distant relative of mine that Ancestry.com dug up.  He died in his 70s when I was 10 years old.  We never knew each other.  He lived his entire life in Australia.  The other dude, on the right, is me at about the same age as Isaac.  Do you see any similarities in our appearance, besides we’re both wearing a bowtie?  Do you think DNA sorta prowls around one’s family lineage, maybe even “bounces around” and every once in a while it configures itself into an almost exact duplicate state that it did once before?  Do you think that could happen?   And is it only cosmetics that the DNA replicates…or could more things be involved?  Hmmmm.

I hope you had a good weekend too!

*****

mkwanted

 

Posted in communication, WHATEVER!, WRITING | Leave a comment

WEATHERING SOUTH FLORIDA


postcard6

Well well well, winter has subtly descended upon South Florida…at least for a day or so. Our nighttime temps fell into the 60’s.  I rev’d up the heater last night just to take the edge off the slight nip in the air.  This morning I dressed in long pants which proved to be uncomfortable and a bit annoying.

Climate is the one element that practically by itself defines South Florida and differentiates the state–at least this portion–from all others except perhaps Hawaii.  It is the main topic of conversation—always—when there is an exchange between Floridians and those who live elsewhere.  When strangers meet and it is determined one is from Florida the comments that follow will most certainly pertain to the weather.  In this case, weather serves as the ice breaker to get the flow of conversation started. Yes, pun intended.

It is a unique experience living in this part of the country having spent the first 25 years of my life shivering on bus stop corners, scraping ice off windshields and wearing fur-lined leather gloves.  Now I live less than 8 miles from Fort Lauderdale Beach, a destination that visitors will pay upwards of a $1000 or more for the opportunity of sinking their toes into the sand.  I can do that anytime I want for the tossing of a few coins into a parking meter.

People born here do not understand the complexities of the weather as much as a transplant like me.   Grass is a good example.  One thing I noticed when I first moved here was how much thicker blades of grass blades are.  In fact, leaves on plants and trees are sturdier, too.  It’s mother nature’s response to withstanding the higher temperatures and exposure to sunlight.

Time is the element most influenced by the weather since I moved to South Florida. Disregarding hurricanes, there are no significant changes in the environment here due to the weather.  Outside of the occasional, short-lived radical flexing in temperatures, such as we are experiencing right now, it is difficult to define winter, spring, summer and fall.  The four seasons blend almost seamlessly.  There is no annual sense of euphoria on that first balmy spring day following several months of harsh winter.  There is no long winter’s night snuggling with a down-filled quilt when the air turns cold and crisp each fall.  Here, the changes in the seasons are subtle and you actually don’t notice the transitions between them until you’ve become seasoned yourself to living here.  Most folks don’t have two sets of clothes they interchange each year.  Like snow shovels, gloves simply do not exist in South Florida.

The result of this weather-directed lifestyle is that one loses a sense of timing.  When I lived in Pennsylvania it was easier to remember when things occurred.  There, the time of year places benchmarks along your memory path and helps you to recall when events took place.  In South Florida where the seasonal changes are not as noticeable, it is more difficult to remember when things happened.

I admit, I somewhat miss the seasons, especially fall.  Football in 90˚ weather just isn’t right. I hasten—in fact, panic—to assure you that I do not enjoy winter and can just about tolerate temperatures much below  50˚.  They say one’s blood thins the longer you live here and I have come to believe that.

For those who enjoy a white blanketing of snow or tossing another log on the fire, I toast you (another pun intended)  happiness and warm feet.  Me, I’ll take the warmer path, the shorts and t-shirts and the quiet hum of my air conditioner.  And if I don’t know what time of year it is by looking out the window, I’ll check the calendar.

*****

Posted in travel, WHATEVER! | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

GOLDEN ADVICE…AND IT’S FREE!


various pills and capsules as background

I cannot believe that right off the bat for 2017 I feel compelled to discuss things that many of you are not interested in…but should be. There is a process in life that we all go through eventually. It’s called getting old and it stinks. Not smelly stinks—well, sometimes smelly—but stinks in the way it treats your body. And, maybe…maybe maybe maybe…there are things one can do at an earlier age that will help ease the horrors down the Birthday Candle Highway. And that, if anything, is actually the message I hope to convey.

I am a few months away from celebrating (is that the right word?) my 72nd birthday. I’m not sure how I reached this age so quickly although I have definitely accumulated a lifetime worth of memories, relationships, successes, failures and tons of after-effects which folks nowadays call baggage. My baggage, unfortunately, is the older kind. It doesn’t have those little wheels on the bottom to make it easier to drag them along with me. Other things that I have accumulated are pills, lot of ‘em, and a collection of medical paraphernalia allegedly designed to help whatever ails-yuh.

I didn’t sense I was getting older until I was in my 60’s. That’s when things began happening…little hints of what was to come. There were the sore knees, loss of mall power (the ability to shop and never drop), the telltale signs of rashy psoriasis, less patience waiting for things to get done because of less time between needed trips to the bathroom . Stuff like that. Nothing excruciatingly painful…just annoying. Now, a decade later, things have progressed considerably.

In the past six months the doctors have added psoriatic arthritis and neuropathy to my list of diagnoses. Add these to my sleep and motion disorders, plus my lifelong high blood pressure and you can see why I made poster boy in December for the National Hypochondriacs Foundation. Neither one of these new ailments is curable while they slowly erode my joints, numb my extremities and prove why an aluminum walker, not a Toyota Camry, is the vehicle of choice for many elderly.  And, oh yeah, add in last week’s  MRI that shows two bulging disks that have pinched a nerve causing me enough pain that I’m actually thinking one of those walkers may not be such a bad thing.

Meanwhile, it takes several weeks to be approved for financial support for the more effective medicines for my diseases. No, I am not at poverty level (give it time) and that is why I have been turned down for one already. It happens that the co-pay for these medicines will cost me—no kidding—over $1000 for a one month supply.  And I have the better insurance, not the HMO. These are the same medicines you see on those TV commercials with all the cheerful not-quite-so-elderly appearing people who are happily swimming with friends or tossing bowling balls. These are the same commercials in which the announcer reads off an endless list of all the horrible things the medicine can do to you if your body doesn’t like it. It happens that death would be one of the less stressful side effects.

And this is why older people have nothing to do but talk about all their medical issues. It is overwhelming and much of it cannot be ignored…especially the painful part.  Bad things seem to be happening all the time and guess what results from the bad things: other bad things!  As horrible as my back pain is, it is unbelievable that my appointment with the back doctor is still two weeks off. No one will see me any sooner. I call every day to check if there have been any cancellations, but demand is high so it’s like a lottery win if you happen to get in early.

So listen up all you 30-60 year-olds out there. Check your family history. See what’s in store for you and then add in all the unexpected issues that could start ruining your so-called Golden Years. Explore opportunities that may be present now that will help you fend off many of these calamities later on. You don’t think they can happen to you?  Well damn, yours are the generations that seem to like reality shows, so…Get Real!

*****

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

REX THE BALLOON, PART II


sadrexgif

 

The following is Part II of the story of Rex the Balloon.  If you missed Part I, simply scroll down to the posting below this one.  And while I have your attention, I am adjusting the appearance of the blog so you will see various “experiments” taking place right before your very eyes!  That said, here now is Part II of Rex the Balloon…

I was sitting at my desk the Monday morning after Thanksgiving, still fretting over the loss of Rex.  I had just about given up.  The situation had taken the air out of me…and I suspected it did Rex too.  Earlier I had spotted a newspaper clip someone had posted on the bulletin board.  It was a picture of the Macy’s parade in New York and the doctored headline read, “Rex the Balloon Seen in Macy’s Parade.”  And then the phone rang.  Every time it did, I has hopeful it’d be the kidnappers and maybe there was a chance to negotiate a settlement and get Rex back.  But it wasn’t them.  Instead, it was a very low whispering voice and it said, “Check the trunks in the news cars” and then it hung up.  I had lucked out.  Someone on staff had taken pity on me…or Rex.

I had copies of all the keys for the news cars.  I grabbed them and quietly went out to the parking lot.  Rex was in the trunk of the second car I checked.  I admit, it was a tearful reunion.  The crisis was over.  I proudly walked backed into the station, Rex tucked under my arm.  It was like old times.

Life was back to normal, but not for long.  Rex was aging.  His skin was blistering  and he had shrunk a good bit.  It was one afternoon as I was returning to my desk and putting Rex down that he just barely brushed up against the pencil jar.  It was enough.  He suffered a massive puncture and it was over in seconds as the air rushed out of him.  I was speechless as I held his deflated remains in my hand.

There’s more to the story, but first, some background.  The radio station was owned by a newspaper company that was run by a small, conservative family that was headquartered in Maine.  At this particular time, the General Manager of the station was one of the sons. He was a businessman at heart, constantly checking the clip board in the business manager’s office to see how revenues were doing.  He was quite affable and supportive of the product we put out on the air. He had to be aware of most of the shenanigans perpetrated by the staff, but chose to turn the other way…and we all loved him for it.

I was busy making funeral arrangements for Rex and I had announced to the staff when the service would take place.  We worked in a beautiful building that featured an incredible atrium in the front lobby area.  There were four quadrants with small trees and tropical plants well landscaped, under bright skylights in the ceiling.  I had chosen a nice section of one of the quadrants in which to bury Rex.  He was to lie in state in the center of the atrium most of the day where people would have the opportunity to stop by and pay their respects.

The General Manager came into my office and sat down.  He told me that his brother was coming to visit the station on the same day I had planned Rex’s funeral.  His brother was a lot less open-mined, I was told, and he just would not understand what was going on.  In fact, the GM appeared worried about what his brother might report back to headquarters about his wayward sun-stroked sibling in Miami and the kind of operation he was running.  The GM asked me not to go through with the funeral.

On the brink of subordination and maybe even losing my job, I told the GM we just could not do that.  The staff was counting on closure, I explained, but I assured him I would try to manipulate events around his bother’s visit.

So the day came and there was Rex in the atrium, in a small cardboard box draped with a paper crayon-drawn flag, atop a typewriter table.  The staff paraded past throughout the day, some softly touching Rex’s box, others whispering their goodbyes.

The only problem I had with keeping my word to maneuver events around the brother’s visit is that I was never told the schedule.  I had absolutely no idea when the brother would be there…until I saw the GM and his guest walking through the front door.  The GM quickly shielded his brother from seeing what was going on in the atrium while he ushered him into his corner office.  It appeared rather awkward and I’m not sure if the brother saw anything strange going on other than his brother acting strangely.  The two of them were secluded behind a closed door.  It was exactly at the same time the staff was gathering for the burial ceremony.  Nearly everyone who could leave what they were doing, other than those on the air, had gathered in the atrium.

It was a lovely funeral.  The Production Manager, draped in a cleric’s robe read a passionate eulogy while soft organ music played on a reporter’s portable tape recorder.  As two of us lowered Rex into the grave we had dug in the atrium, just under a nice areca palm, the tape recorder now played the sounds of a seven-gun salute and the flyover of a F-117 Nighthawk Stealth Fighter.  Everyone was moved.  We gathered up our emotions, small-talked each other about the many good memories we had of Rex and then slowly returned to our desks.  A few on the news staff were heard mumbling something about their chances for better coffee being blown.

It had been a difficult day for me.  I left a little early feeling good about Rex’s goodbye.  He would have liked everything we did and I knew he’d be flattered by the huge turnout.  I understand from those who left later that night that the General Manager and his brother had remained in the office with the door closed well after everyone had departed for the evening.  After that day, the GM never said anything to me about Rex.

If you have ever wondered if there are actually radio stations similar to the television sitcom, WKRP in Cincinnati…wonder no more!

*****

Posted in communication, Uncategorized, WHATEVER!, work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment