Coffee heat rising

Women’s Work: A Manifesto

Simple Life in France recently wrote on a subject that seems to be worrying a number of women in my circle. It’s a concern that speaks with profound irony to women d’un certain âge. “What would my husband think,” she wonders, if she decided never to go back to work but instead to devote herself to being…ah, let’s say it: “just a housewife?” And into “what he would think,” let’s read the more invidious “what would everyone else think?”

A dear friend of mine here is wrestling with the same questions. She’s contemplating making her escape from the day job sometime in the near future. She agonizes about the prospect of searching for another job, full- or part-time, when in reality she very likely would be happy and successful taking care of her husband and their beautiful home and expansive semirural property. Though she recognizes she needs a break from the work world—possibly a permanent one—she also feels that she should be contributing to the finances of the marital community. Her husband earns a good living that will support them well; their child is out of the home and married; and so the question of whether she should be working is not a matter of necessity but of conscience.

It’s the conundrum of the post-feminist middle-class woman. We’ve gone, over the course of a single lifetime, from a social milieu in which few women were even allowed to work to one where women not only can do just about any job they please but are expected to work, whether they want to or not. By “work,” of course, we continue to mean work two jobs: the day job plus the other full-time occupation of caring for a man, his children, and their dwelling.

The subtext for both Simple’s and my friend’s conflict—and it’s an important one—is “how will I be valued?”

We live in a culture where a person’s value is measured in dollars. The more you earn, the better you must be as a human being, right? And so what does it mean when a woman earns no dollars? A woman who has focused her whole life’s energies on being “just a housewife” receives exactly zero credit toward Social Security. More humiliating, her Social Security benefits, if any, will be tied to her husband’s, and only if she has earned less than half of what he is entitled to…assuming she stays married to the guy long enough. What does that mean?

Unwittingly (perhaps), we’ve not freed women, but instead we have further institutionalized the little-womaning of the American housewife. As feminists, we’ve done it by insisting that women must fulfill some imagined “full potential,” which we have situated in the commercial workplace. As a culture, we’ve done it by raising the cost of living so high that a single paycheck will no longer support a family in a middle-class lifestyle. And we see it in the not-so-subtle message implicit in that Social Security rule.

We as women need to rethink the value of what we are and what we do, and we need to disconnect that value from the dollar. Let’s consider what’s entailed in working as “just a housewife.”

For starters, a woman who lives and works at home takes on the following base responsibilities:

She raises and educates children (let’s face it: most of a kid’s education happens in the home).

She shepherds the children through public school and works to extract the most value with the least harm from the institutional system.

She cleans and cares for a house or apartment.

She may care for a yard and garden, often including small farm animals and large pets.

She designs meals and cooks them.

She shops for food, clothing, furnishings, household goods, and all other necessities and luxuries.

She budgets and handles money.

She cleans, a job that (as you’ll know if you’ve ever hired cleaning help) is a great deal more complex than we give it credit for.

She decorates and maintains a comfortable sanctuary from the outside world.

She does minor repair work around the house and property.

She sees to the maintenance of the cars.

She does sex work.

She volunteers at schools, churches, and community nonprofits.

She cares for elderly parents, whether her own or her husband’s.

In her husband’s old age, she may spend her own elder years caring for a sick old man.

In the course of learning to do these jobs over a lifetime, she attains skills in child development, bookkeeping, money management, hygiene, chemistry, nutrition, first aid, child care, elder care, gardening, interior decor, crafts, cuisine, entertainment, the arts of sexuality. If she volunteers outside the home, she builds knowledge and skills in subjects such as early childhood education, social work, event management, newsletter editing and publishing, office operations, and who knows what else.

That’s if she’s an ordinary, garden-variety just-a-housewife.

Let’s suppose she either is a particularly energetic, college-trained woman or she happens to marry a professional or business owner and so is expected to perform as what we might, in old-fashioned terms, call a society matron. In that case, she gets up to these sorts of things:

She represents her family unit and raises its profile through civic volunteerism and leadership.

She participates in elite service groups such as Junior League. In doing so, she takes on middle-management to executive-level responsibilities in one or more civic organizations.

She serves on the board of directors of one or more civic or nonprofit organizations, such as a museum, a social service agency, or a citizens’ group.

She hires and supervises household and landscaping staff to manage the house in her absence.

She entertains clients and colleagues in the home and at venues such as clubs and professional meetings.

She entertains and socializes with her husband’s partners’ wives, and in doing so collects intelligence on behind-the-scenes matters that may prove valuable for her husband’s career or investment strategies.

She builds and markets her husband’s profile in the community.

As a society matron—or, in more contemporary language, the partner of a professional—our just-a-housewife develops and engages all of the basic skills we’ve seen above plus management of household and landscaping staff, management of volunteers, event management, catering, public relations, marketing, fund-raising, office work, social work, fiduciary management, and a wide variety of other skills and knowledge specific to individual nonprofit organizations. If she has a college degree in business or some other technical field, she may apply that training to her unpaid civic work exactly as she would do in the workplace.

In either event—whether she focuses her energy and activities on her home, husband, and children or whether she also engages in civic voluntarism—the just-a-housewife manifests a wide variety of skills that, in any other context, would command a decent salary. Make that several decent salaries.

But because she doesn’t command a salary, we think of her as “just a housewife.” And she wonders if her husband (friends, in-laws, former roommate, college classmates) will value her.

My point here is that a woman is worth more than money. What she does can’t be measured in dollars, and so her worth can’t be measured in the currency of the marketplace.

When we feminists of the 1960s and 70s agitated to allow women into the marketplace, we did so because we wanted our daughters and grand-daughters to have a choice. We wanted women to be able to choose to enter the world of work, in any capacity, and not to be limited to the home or to menial, ill-paying jobs.

Choice works both ways. To be able to choose to do something means to be able to choose not to do something.

“Women’s work” and skills have great value—really, whether they’re engaged by a woman or by a man. A man, too, should have the choice to do or not to do, to work outside the home or not to work outside the home. The work we do, the knowledge and wisdom we possess should be valued for what they are, not for what they’re paid.

Of what real value are the bankers and financiers who so fabulously enriched themselves at the expense of the entire developed world’s economy? Of what value is the highly paid tobacco executive, captain of an industry devoted to sickening and killing its customers? These men and women are highly paid in the workplace, but we see their value as human beings: negative equity, we might say.

Value yourself for what you are and what you do, not for what you’re paid. Value yourself, and others around you will value you.

And, my friends, let us take up the torch again: demand choice, not bondage—neither to the home nor to the marketplace.

As we go marching, marching, we bring the greater days;
The rising of the women means the rising of the race.

James Oppenheimer, “Bread and Roses

Why Being Passionate about Your Career Can Drive You Nuts

A guest post by Simple Life in France

People often rail against giving up their dreams, working a 9-to-5  job they hate and having the life sucked out of them.  But what if you work atypical hours doing something you’re passionate about with an outlet for your creativity?  Are you safe from job-induced insanity?

Hardly.

I’m always amused when people solve the problem of work-induced stress by saying, “Just do what you love,” often followed by, “and you’ll never work a day in your life.”  Not so, I say—and here are just a few reasons:

Often work you love is precarious. Want to be an art teacher, college professor, journalist . . ?  The scarcity of stable, full time employment in these fields can leave you scrambling from one temporary gig to another with spotty health care and benefits.

The politics that arise in environments with low job security can be reminiscent of a snake-pit. I once had a long conversation with a friend who felt he’d sold out by becoming an attorney in some ways, but who enjoyed the cooperation between opposing attorneys during their cases.  I had to admit to this friend that the teachers in the school where I worked refused to share teaching ideas or collaborate because they were in direct competition with each other for their jobs.  Not quite what I’d envisioned when I took up my passion.

When you believe in what you do, you tend to take it home with you—literally and figuratively. Journalists, writers, teachers, musicians, artists (etc.) tend to mull over projects constantly, not simply while they are at work.  You may find yourself putting in extra (unpaid) hours because you enjoy what you do and want to do your best.

Your passion can become corrupted by the employer-employee relationship. When you believe in what you do, you’re likely to have strong opinions about how it should be done. You may have an idea about how you want a specific graphic design project to turn out, but your employer doesn’t agree. You may have a strong opinion on student/teacher ratio that doesn’t jibe with the state budget.  Your editor may request changes in your writing in the name of marketability.

When someone else pays you to do something you’re passionate about, you often find yourself trying to decide whether to compromise, to subvert or to leave.

Passionate about your career? Should you abandon all hope?

That sounds like a personal question to me.  I must admit that for all the drawbacks I found in working in a field I love, I’ve never quite been able to imagine myself doing something else.  Although on occasion, I gaze wistfully at friends who are bored with their work but can come home, put up their feet, drink a beer and forget all about it.

What do you think?  Where do you find the balance between work and passion?

Enjoy these other posts at Simple in France:

The Slippery Smell of Clean and its Costs
Nearing Nine Months in France

Village Idiots at our Table, Pallets Under our Bed

And the layoff beat goes on…

Via e-mail from The Kid, now employed in a full-time editorial job in the precincts of Our (former, in my case) Beloved Employer:

So we all know that the GDU budget is currently a mess. There are a lot of rumors floating around the department and school about cuts, very similar to what we saw right before we got canned. I stay out of all of this. I’ve got other streams of income and won’t be affected as drastically.

Today I receive an email from the Dean of the Business School that there will be a town-hall style meeting to dispel some of the rumors and get some facts out there.

This is where it gets interesting: a professor chimes in that, in the spirit of Obama-esque redistribution of wealth, she as a faculty member suggests an across-the-board cut in faculty salaries to keep the staff in place and at their current pay rates. Imagine that?!? My supervisor replied that she too agrees with this plan. Now a stream of emails have flown back and forth with a number of positions on the budget. But the fact remains, some people actually may value our work and would prefer the take a pay cut than lose us. Unselfish in America? Never thought I’d see the day…

Another “town hall”? LOL! How many of those performances are the poor deans going to be made to put on? These little plays layer unrealistic optimism (shall we say…) with a light sprinkling of straight talk to try to plump up morale among the troops. The degree to which they work depends on the degree of the listener’s gullibility.

Voice of Experience to Kid:

How much you believe the rumors…well, it’s ambiguous. Some of the stuff is just hot air, some of it is kinda prescient, and a bit of it is even true. Don’t recall whether I shared this with you guys, but about 18 months before we were canned I was told in no uncertain terms that we would be gone by that fall. Hm…that would have put us on the street in September of ’08. A departmental chair told my friend La Maya, who is tenured on the West campus, that he had been to a university-wide meeting in which Capaldi told them, in “confidence” and swearing them to secrecy, that by September of 2008 all academic professionals would be let go.

That’s why I started searching for jobs that summer, and that’s how I came to get interviewed for a program director’s position at the Botanical Garden. After weeks of worry, it occurred to me that I happened to know a guy on that committee, one of my coreligionists. The university had posted the minutes of the meeting online, complete with attendance, so I knew Bill had been there. Called him on the phone and asked him point-blank if that was what Capaldi said. Without a pause to think about it, he said no, nothing even vaguely like that had happened.

There’s really very little you can do when rumors are blowing on the wind, other than try to ignore them. And always to be on the lookout for another job. Listening to that shit can drive you nuts. It’s probably good to know in general that something is up, but if you think too hard about it, it’ll make you sick.

What a place! Good lord, what a place.

Did money just happen?

Whoa! I think I just stumbled onto something amazing. Remember how SDXB told us “money happens”? Well…the stuff appears to be materializing as we scribble.

Well, not so much!
See the update here.

Yesterday I was talking with the people at the state Department of Administration about COBRA, which is administered through their agency.

The Great Desert University did another of its little numbers on me. Despite handing me a contract that says my last day of work was December 31, they “termed” me (the bureaucrat’s salubrious term for “terminated”) in their system on January 10. Because the eligibility for the COBRA discount ended on December 31, this would have rendered me unable to pay for health insurance, except that (thank God!) the Obama Administration extended the stimulus discount for those who are canned into February.

In the course of conversation, the ADOA rep remarked that during the first six months of COBRA, you’re covered whether or not you’re paying every month. For me, the payment under the ARRAS discount would amount to about $200.

I said, “So, if I haven’t paid for the first couple of months and then I’m in a car wreck and break every bone in my body and they cart me off to St. Joe’s emergency room, I can pony up the back payments and be covered?”

“That’s right.”

Hm. Come to think of it, I’ve heard that before.

Now, my Medicare card came in the mail yesterday afternoon. On the first of May—three and a half months from today—I will automatically go on Medicare. At that time I’ll want to sign up for a Medigap policy.

According the the reams of paperwork I have here, Medigap insurers cannot zap you for whatever pre-existing condition they can dream up if you have “no gap in coverage” with your prior insurance.

“No gap in coverage.” That is exactly the ADOA rep’s wording. She said, “Don’t worry. You have no gap in coverage between your state insurance and COBRA,” even if you’re not paying the first few premiums.

So. Because Medicare starts less than six months from the start of my COBRA coverage, in theory if I never paid a penny in COBRA premiums, I still would be covered right up until the time the government program takes over, and, because I would have “no gap in coverage,” the private sharks who run the Medigap insurance programs would be unable to screw me because 20 years ago I broke a wrist when I fell on the rocks in the bottom of Aravaipa Canyon while hauling a 30-pound backpack.* And there would be nothing they could do to claim the stress attacks engendered by working for Our Beloved Employer are some sort of excuse for why they shouldn’t cover me.

This sounds too good to be true. But it gets better!

As dawn cracked, I got on the phone to Medicare and tried to formulate this question for the rep who answered: Is it true that if I don’t pay for COBRA I would still be “covered” technically so that I could get Medigap without being zinged for pre-existing conditions.

Irrelevant, says she. Here’s the deal: When you turn 65, you have six months of open enrollment, during which time you can select a Medigap provider who has to take you without regard to pre-existing conditions.

You catch my drift, right?

If I remain “covered” by COBRA for six months whether or not I’m paying the premiums and I attain Medicare in 3 1/2 months, then effectively what I have here is free health insurance for the next several months. There’s no reason for me to pony up the $200/month COBRA premium.

Eight hundred dollars would just about cover the increase in power and water bills over the summer—my combined bills go up by about $200 a month during June, July, August, and September.

With enough in the bank to pay the summertime utility bills, my 2010 budgeting problems disappear into the overheated desert air.

My health is excellent. Except for my neurosis about Arizona State University, I have no health problems at all. I often go six months to a year without seeing a doctor. So it makes good sense to take a chance—especially since no real risk is involved—and quietly not pay the COBRA premiums unless something drastic happens.

Meanwhile, because in direct contradiction to my contract the state carried me on its payroll until January 10, they deposited another $517 into my checking account! This happened because, contrary to what HR told me, in the two December 31 paychecks PeopleSoft did not pay off everything ASU owed me: the five hundred bucks represents pay for the two days in December that I worked past the final 2009 lagging pay period.

I think I’ll be able to argue that this is 2009 pay, so that Social Security will not ding me for it—although from the blank looks I’ve gotten from ASU functionaries about this matter, it’s pretty clear that no help in proving it will be forthcoming from those quarters. But I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Let’s see here… $800 + $517…that’s $1,317 of money happening!

*No joke! Blue Cross/Blue Shield once actually told me it would not cover me for any broken bones or back problems because they believed the hairline wrist fracture and a later X-ray of a foot showing mild osteopenia meant I had osteoporosis (even though I decidedly did not and still do not).

What a day!

Well, it’s almost tomorrow, so I’m gunna write this tonight (Wednesday), let it post tomorrow, and take a day off from scribbling to continue the various gardening projects.

Back from choir a little after 9, a cloud cover blown in on the nighttime air and a very light sprinkle starting to spit. Naturally, Cassie the Corgi was not wrung out after her 6:00 p.m. dinner, so grabbed an umbrella and the leash and set out for a late evening constitutional.

Driving home I’d seen some lightning off in the distant east but didn’t think much of it. The day was clear as a proverbial bell and I didn’t expect any rain would blow in. As we reached the apogee of our stroll the sprinkle began to come a little harder (Cassie hates rain!). We’re about as far as we usually get from the house when a big bolt of lightning C-R-A-A-C-K-s out of the sky with a clap of thunder bold enough to knock you off your feet! It was really close, certainly this side of the mountains a mile to the north.

Holy Mackerel! And there we are with a fine metal-ribbed umbrella in our paws!

We sprinted for the house, dog and human at a dead run (did you know you can run pretty well in Danskos?) and just reached the eaves over the front door as water began to pour out of the sky.

So that was a rousing end to another trying day.

Up at 3:00 a.m. worrying about the COBRA and money. If because of a bureaucratic screw-up my termination date goes into the system after December 31, am I going to lose out on the ARRAS discount? If so, then I can’t afford to buy ASU’s health insurance, and because of the ominous stress attack that landed me in the ER for a day because it so cleverly mimicked a heart attack, there’s no chance I can buy insurance on the private market. Though I have enough cash in my checking account, even after sending my excess savings off to the financial dudes for 2009 and 2010 Roth contributions, that money is earmarked for me to live on, not for some insurance company to rip off. If I spend it on $600 or $700 premiums over the next five months, there won’t be enough for me to live on without drawing down several thousand dollars from the IRA, exactly what we’re trying to avoid in an effort to recover the losses of the past 18 months or so.

And speaking of retirement funds, what about the $500 from the Fidelity 403(b) that now is not going to show up this month, thanks to yet another screw-up on the part of my beloved former employer? When I sent that cash off to the Roth, I’d figured on getting the drawdown and using it to help fund my January/February budget. How the hell am I going to get by without that five hundred bucks?

And speaking of the enforced drawdown from the 403(b), the one mandated so that the state will cough up the $19,000 of unpaid sick leave (RASL) it owes me, if those idiots screwed up entering my termination date in the state’s system, that means the ornery RASL lady also thinks I’m still on the payroll. That means she’s not processing my RASL application. And that means an even longer delay in stumbling through that procedure. The longer it takes her to do that, the longer I’ll have to take a drawdown, and the longer it will be before I can move the 403(b) money over to my financial managers, who just now are doing a great deal better with the big IRA than Fidelity is with the 403(b) funds.

{moan!} Got up, wrote the post you may have read Wednesday, dorked around online for a while, wrote a list of things to do. Went back to bed just before dawn. Got up again around 8:30 or 9:00. Sat down at the desk and got back on the phone.

First I called the Department of Administration again, reaching a new CSR. Explained the story again. She opened the payroll system while she was on the phone and said I was still shown as employed at ASU.

I said HR Lady claimed there was a “delay in the payroll system” and she intended to get in touch with DOA on Thursday. That would be tomorrow.

DOA Lady said she didn’t know about that, but she repeated that the HR system shows me as not terminated. She then remarked that DOA has no direct contact with ASU’s HR department. “They never call us on the phone,” said she.

No. Of course not. Why am I not surprised?

Eventually, I called my former husband, a corporate lawyer, to ask what he thought I should do about this, if he could suggest any regulatory recourse, and if he could refer me to a labor lawyer.

He said he didn’t know much about that sort of thing, but he did give me the name of a guy in town, a man whose name I recognized as a fellow with a reputation as a heavy hitter. Then, on reflection, Ex-DH observed that the university’s present general counsel is one of his former law partners. He suggested I should get in touch with that gentleman, since the business with the COBRA is a federal issue that could pose a fairly serious problem for ASU.

I said I doubted if he would remember me. He said maybe not, but he certainly would remember Ex-DH. I should call, remind him that I’m Ex-DH’s former wife, and tell him what is going on. Given that it’s extremely unlikely I could get past the gatekeepers in the general counsel’s office, we agreed I should try e-mailing him.

Meanwhile, Ex-DH suggested, I should e-mail and snail-mail a history of this to someone at ASU and someone at ADOA, so as to get it in writing (again!) that I was supposed to be terminated as of December 31. He said that time is now an issue.

Oh, God.

So I spent about an hour boiling the story down into as brief a form as possible, without all the flourishes one finds in blog copy and without the expressions of distress, annoyance, and cajoling one emits around the HR functionaries. Then I spent another hour writing a short history of the COBRA fiasco. This I addressed to HR Lady and cc’ed to Dean Debby (former supervisor) and the college’s Business Office Manager, adding that I hoped to see the mess cleared up within 24 hours. This little tome took BOM’s name in vain, when, among other things, I reported that during the November retiree meeting we were asked to attend, we were told to ask our departmental BOM to submit a “retire employee” request through the manager self-service system, no later than the last pay period, and that BOM had accordingly done exactly that.

Time passed. I went up to Home Depot to buy some compost and manure, the better to cultiver mon jardin. Then I spent what little remained of the afternoon pruning the roses in back and digging the fresh dirt into the soil around them, weeding the vegetables, and giving them some of the smelly new dirt, too. Along about 5:00 I remembered that tonight was choir rehearsal and realized I’d better wash the eau de cow coprolite off before leaving the house. Raced to draw a bath and toss some dog food down. Checked the e-mail while I was running around: nary a word from General Counsel.

Suspicions confirmed: university lawyers are not friends to university peons, not even if the peons are ex-wives of ex-partners. But…

Comes 5:30 p.m., my hair is wet and the bathtub is draining and the dog is running around and I’m freezing, wrapped in a damp towel, because of course it’s darned cold in here with no heat on, the phone rings and there’s HR Lady!

She’s calling, she says brightly, to let me know that ADOA finally does have my termination in its system (isn’t that great!). She will, she says, send me written confirmation of this tomorrow, but she thought I’d like to know it tonight.

Indeed.

Well, say I, what about the $200 I was supposed to have paid to COBRA by December 8, while I actually was still very much on the payroll and was still paying into the state health insurance system? (That would be the payment you never heard of, the one you said I shouldn’t have had to pay anyway…)

She will try to find out about that and report the results tomorrow, too.

Huh. Imagine that.

I figure either Dean Debby or General Counsel lit a fire under HR, given that HR Lady said she wouldn’t even get to my little problem before tomorrow. It’ ll be interesting to see what happens next.

Do they have me as terminated on December 31? Or will they decide that I died departed today, January 13, since that would have been the date the late great exit was entered in their system?

Will they refuse to enroll me in COBRA until I pony up the 200 bucks they demanded last month, which I forgot about in the confusion and general anguish that went on over the past several weeks?  And if they demand that I pay that, will they also demand another couple hundred bucks for the January premium, bringing the total gouge to an unmanageable $400?

If so, where will I get the $400, since I had to pay $200 for the late great pool maintenance?

Thank God for choir. Rehearsal was challenging, as it involved a rather dramatic piece in Latin (oh, don’t we love DRAMA? 🙄 ) that I had never heard before. We got a new second alto, conveniently pushing the retired priest’s wife into the seat next to me. This lady has a good voice: she can carry a tune, she sings on key, and she sings loud enough to hear her. That’s all I need to fake success. So it was fairly easy for me to figure out the new music. And the mental workout went a long way toward taking my mind off the current spate of GDU hassle.

What a day. What a place.

Storm image: FIR002, flagstaffotos.com.au Lightning strike, January 2007
Licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License
Please note that this image is not in the public domain and must be used and acknowledged accordingly.

Trying to escape from flypaper

Getting quit of Arizona State University and the State of Arizona is like trying to pull yourself free of a giant sheet of heavy-duty, extra-sticky flypaper. Below, notes on this morning’s exchanges with a Fidelity 403(b) rep, a Department of Administration rep, and (god help me) another ASU Human Resources rep:

Called Fidelity to find out where the $500 payment is. Reached L— S—.

She said there are two funds, one with $159,000 and a smaller one. She asked which one I wanted to withdraw from. I said I had no idea, having been through several reps, all of whom said they would make this happen.

She said the smaller one is available for any drawdown from me. The larger one requires paperwork proving that I no longer work for the state university system and approval.

She said they did receive the 8-page form from ASU but it is in process at Fidelity. She will e-mail the person in that department and call me back to report what’s going on.

Meanwhile, I haven’t received a bill from COBRA. Called ADOA. Reached a woman who didn’t identify herself. She said

a) I was supposed to have sent a check to HITS (how appropriate!) and I have not. I looked in my notes and discovered I was supposed to have sent a $199.14 check and, in my endless confusion over this f***ing nightmare, failed to do so. But this would not matter, because…

b) ASU has not entered me in the HRIS system, and so as far as ADOA is concerned, I am still employed by ASU and still covered.

LS said I need to call HR again and do battle with them. I have to tell them to enter me in HRIS and then find out from them what date they show me terminated. Then I have to call ADOA back and tell them what the date is. Then they will figure out what to do about COBRA.

I called C— D— at HR. She said I am entered in HRIS as terminated. I said ADOA said I was not entered.

She was mystified about the COBRA prepayment due in December. I said that was what ADOA told me, and that I had failed to make the payment because I was overwhelmed by the paperwork and hoop-jumping, which has now accrued a two-inch thick binder of paperwork and notes. She said there is no such payment; that she couldn’t speak for ADOA but she knows the system, and they have to send me a bill for any amounts owed. I said what I told her was what they  told me. Twice.

CD said the termination went into the system on January 6, and it usually takes about 24 hours for it to register. She also said that because I wasn’t canned until the 31st, several days in to the first January pay period, I would have been covered by ASU’s regular plan until the 10th. I pointed out that today is January 12, and so presumably I now have no insurance coverage.

She said well, do I have any health issues? I said I need to go to the dentist. She asked if I have an appointment today.

I said, “Look. I have to get in my car and drive from one end of Hell to the other today. If I get in an accident and end up in the hospital without coverage, I will be bankrupted!”

She said COBRA has a six-month period in which you can enroll, so if I get hurt or sick in that period I can retroactively enroll.

She offered to call ADOA and tell them I was “termed” in their system six days ago and to find out what the story is with the COBRA. I said I will be running around the city all day—I’m now over an hour late in getting started and haven’t even had breakfast!—so she said she would find out what she can and leave word on my voicemail.

Will this horror show never stop????