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Life in Dystopia…

Memo from the Dermatologist’s Waiting Room…

…way to HELL and gone out on the far west side of the Valley…

HOLY maquerel!  Had to fill up in order to get all the way out to the west side for this morning’s traipse to the dermatologist. Gas at the corner QT is $4.79 a gallon! Three-quarters of a tank set me back SIXTY-TWO BUCKS! And 41 cents.

And that’s cheap! Driving westward, ever westward, I passed gas stations offering the stuff for over five bucks. Yes. That is “per gallon.”

How are people who have to commute or use a vehicle to do business managing this?

I figure we can expect this is gonna be pretty much permanent. Have you ever seen gas prices actually go down? Not likely…leastwise, not significantly.  And you hear the excuse bandied about even now: “After all, these prices are what they have to pay in Europe.”

Sure enough.

But Europe has adequate public transit.

Europe has commerce and services situated in reasonably safe central parts of cities and towns.

In Europe, you’re not likely to get brained and robbed walking down to the nearest grocer’s. Or dragged off from the corner bus stop and raped.

European cities are CITIES, not vast sticky puddles of formless sprawl.

At any rate, these prices make it worth sitting in line (and sitting in line…and sitting in line…and sitting in….) at the Costco to fill up and stay filled up at their tanks. But since that’s what everybody else figures, the lines at the Costco pumps stretch halfway to Yuma. You can figure on a 15-minute wait just to get up to the pump. And if the damn thing refuses to take your card – as it did mine, the last time I went by there – all that thumb-twiddling is just so much wasted time and annoyance.

There’s a Costco on the way back into town from Derma-Doc’s place. It’s actually a business Costco, but thanks to the incorporated editorial bidness, I happen to have a business account. So on the way I’ll stop by there as I’m driving driving driving eastward and ask them WTF was with their rejection of my card. And while I’m at it, renew my membership, which I believe to be due about now.

Godlmighty I’m so, sooooo tired of doctoring.

My mother’s relatives were Christian Scientists. Her grandmother and her aunt lived into their mid-nineties and NEVER saw a doctor. Her uncle, who was not a religious nut, also lived into advanced old age…and died of something that no one was ever able to diagnose – the guy just kinda wasted away.  But honest-ta-gawd, sometimes I think Christian Science is not such a bad idea. You’re gonna die when you’re gonna die – not much sooner and not much later, far’s I can tell. Why make yourself miserable being poked, prodded, sliced, diced, dieted, and lectured?

* *

Arrived out on the west side at the doc’s office  way, wayyyy early, having had to allow some unholy amount of (unneeded!) time to fill up the gas tank. So drove around one of the new look-alike stick-and-styrofoam developments. Gosh…some of those houses can’t be more than 20 feet apart, eave to eave!  My father’s aversion to investing in residential real estate kinda makes sense now, looking at these acres and acres and acres of junk.  And he hadn’t even SEEN junk, back in his day….

* * * *

Back in Town:

{chortle!!!} Successful interlude with derma-tech. I REALLY like those folks.

From there, I proceed back across town over grody Indian School Road. Dodge into the Costco down by the railroad underpass, figuring to renew the annual membership and then pick up a few not-very-necessaries.

Belly up to the customer service bar. Present my membership card and my Visa card (Costco doesn’t take AMEX: costs them too much).

The CSR demands to know some three-digit number for the Visa card.

Huh?  AMEX has a three-digit nuisance number, but I’ve NEVER been asked for one for Visa and didn’t even know such a thing existed. Thrash around my wallet. Can’t find it. Lose my temper (quite frankly) and stalk out. On the way I tell her I’m sorry her employer has lost a customer – permanently.

Driving driving driving driving back across the interminable and interminably ugly west side, it crosses my mind that CC mailed me a renewal form. Drive and drive and drive and drive and dodge importuning Death two or three times and dart in the house and dash to the pile of unattended mail on the dining-room table, and Yea verily! There’s a mail-in form to renew membership. Doesn’t ask for a secret code of any kind, for any vendor.

Fill it out. Stuff it in an envelope. Stick an (expensive!) stamp on it. Jump back in the car. Drive to the PO. Drop it in a USPS mailbox.

Note to Self: do not even THINK of renewing in person next year. Incompetent nuisances!

When William Shakespeare had Miranda say “What a brave new world we live in” and added Prospero’s ironic riposte, did he think that brave new world was as dystopic and as shitty and as nuisancey as the one we live in today is? What on earth would he have made of a life that consists of one techno-hassle after another after another?

Also amongst the unattended mail, I find a notice to renew the Medigap insurance. They want THIRTY-SEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS AND FIFTY-TWO CENTS for a year’s worth of Medigap coverage!

Speaking of Brave New Worlds…what IS this effing Brave New World we live in?

7 thoughts on “Life in Dystopia…”

    • A peculiarity of the US public medical coverage system. Most citizens who have more than poverty-level income have no public financial coverage for medical care — it’s pay as you go. This, as you can imagine, is way beyond most people’s ability to pay for. So working people have to carry insurance. This also is, by and large, beyond the capacity of most people to pay for. As a result, most medical coverage in this country is delivered through employer insurance plans.

      That means when you superannuate out of a job — that is, when you’re forced to retire because you’re too old to continue to work — you lose your health insurance coverage and are put into a position where you have to pay out of pocket. This, of course, would be impossible for most people short of a Rockefeller or a Trump. In a nod toward civilized living, we have a government program that, in collaboration with private insurance carriers, provides healthcare for citizens over the age of 65.

      This coverage is called Medicare.

      It, however, does not cover 100% of the cost of medical care for a person enrolled in the system. There’s a “gap” between what Medicare covers and what U.S. medical care typically costs.

      To avoid bankruptcy should you become seriously ill, then, you must buy what is called “Medigap” insurance: private coverage that bridges the gap between what Medicare covers and what doctors and hospitals charge for the services. This can be substantial: I pay several thousand dollars a year for it, for example. But…the amount that wasn’t covered for my most recent 20-minute melanoma surgery was something over $3500. So one can’t very well do without the extra coverage.

      Reply
  1. “Have you ever seen gas prices actually go down?”

    They’ve gone up and down significantly a number of times. If you look at the U.S. Energy Information Administration retail gas price graph at https://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?n=pet&s=emm_epm0_pte_nus_dpg&f=m you’ll find big decreases in gas price per gallon:

    $4.11 in Jul 2008 to $1.75 in Dec 2008
    $3.77 in Jun 2014 to $2.21 in Jan 2015
    $2.95 in May 2019 to $1.96 in May 2020

    The analysis I’ve read says we should expect prices to stay high longer this time due to increased demand with economic recovery from COVID, embargoes on Russian oil due to Ukraine, and refining shortfalls due to oil refineries shutting down with less demand during COVID, and less incentive to bring more online due to expected long term decline in demand due to increasing electric vehicle market share.

    Any Costco member can use the Costco Business Center, not just business members. They carry many items that won’t be of much use to individuals, but there are still many items that overlap a normal Costco warehouse. I visit one near me because the lines tend to be much shorter.

    I’m guessing the three-digit number requested for the Visa card was the CVV, which is usually printed on the back next to the signature box. It’s like the 4 digit number above the AMEX card number. It’s strange they would ask for that in-person, I’ve only had to supply that online or over the phone.

    Reply
    • LOL! Come to think of it, I do recall past ups and downs in gas prices. Not, I think, so drastic as what we’re seeing today — yesterday I drove past a sign proudly advertising five bucks a gallon for regular!

      Where’s my horse???

      Yes, I do know about that trait of the CC Business Center. What our CSR’s problem was, I dunno…possibly I was too clearly a member of the wrong socioeconomic class to be stumbling around in her store? I dunno. Weirdly, we couldn’t find the CVV — could be we were both looking in the wrong spot. Soon as I got home, though, I found Costco’s snail-mail re-subscribe notice, filled in the Visa account number, and mailed it off. After this, I won’t try to re-up in the store — just do it by return mail.

      I do suspect that you’re right about the pressure the growing use of electric vehicles will put on gas prices. A friend of mine has bought a hybrid pickup. He’s just downright thrilled with the thing! And his gasoline budget has subsided into the sub-basement.

      Man! If I hear any more hymns to the splendor of the Ford Maverick hybrid from that guy, I may end up buying one myself! 😀

      Reply
    • Yes! Gasoline prices have been and still are all over the place. As we scribble (about 5 p.m. on Wednesday, 6/15) the average price in Phoenix is said to be %5.699/gallon for regular, up from yesterday’s $5.689. Yeah, she wanted the CVV, but the Visa card didn’t seem to have one. And while cashiers do sometimes ask for the CVV for AMEX, I’ve never had one ask for it from a Visa card. Plus she was very snippy — one of those folks who doesn’t like old people and makes no secret of it. So…hey! Costco doesn’t need my money! ;-D On later inspection I found a three-digit number printed on the back, but not in the usual spot where one expects to find a CVV. Nether of us spotted it when we were peering at the card.

      It’s annoying enough that Costco won’t accept AMEX. When this little darlin’ got snippy about the Visa card, which has NEVER posed a problem at Costco before, I thought screw you, sister! and walked out. There is, after all, some sh!t I will not eat…

      And yeah, I’ve used that Business Center and the one in the East Valley several times. This one was on my way and would have saved me a trek to the north side, had the plan to re-up at their customer (dis)service counter worked.

      Reply
  2. You could also sign up for auto-renewal for your card charged to your VISA.
    I always laugh when people outside California complain about their price of gas. And say I wish.
    6/1 I paid $5.559 for gas at Costco. I go early before they open. You don’t have to wait too long then.
    The Shell nearby was $6.2999 yesterday. Shell recently announced the largest quarterly profit ever-$9.1 billion which they will use to buy back company shares increasing the stock price.

    Reply

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