Well…the metaphorical rain, that is. The real rain, of which we’ve had a fair amount the past couple days, can hang around for awhile. The storm that blew in from the Sea of Cortéz has broken the heat, saturated the earth, refreshed the plants, cleaned the air… And in the micro-bargain, filled up the swimming pool for free! Other than saturating the wiring that runs the AC system (which just now isn’t needed anyway), it seems not to have done any damage here at the Funny Farm.
Roads were flooded. The usual contingent of morons drove into flooded washes and had to be rescued from their cars’ roofs. One moron even walked into a flooded wash.
I haven’t gone down to my son’s house to see if everything’s OK there. If it’s not, there’s little I could do about it. And he’ll be back in a day or so.
It was one thing after another yesterday. Among the highest of the many low points: Medicare.
Jayzus Aitch Keerist!
So while I’m at the Walmart buying pee pads to protect my floors from the sick dog’s ministrations, I decided to get a flu shot. Medicare has just sent a new card. Somewhere in Washington — after HOW many decades? — it registered with a bureaucrat that maybe it wasn’t the smartest idea since the creation of Adam and Eve to make everyone in the country over the age of 65 carry around a card bearing their name and Social Security number in order to get medical care.
So they decided to issue new Medicare cards with new computer-generated numbers. That’s good.
Many days late and a dollar short. But good.
Mine came in the mail a couple days ago.
At the Walmart, the pharmacist asked if I had a new Medicare number. Yup. I fork it over so as to get the shot covered on Part D.
It won’t work. She struggles and she struggles and she struggles. She can NOT make it work. She gets on the phone to Medicare — this involves the usual frustrating punch-a-button hoop-jump and yakathon/obnoxious Muzak heel-cooling routine. Time passes. NOTHING that they tell her, nothing that she does will make it work. She’s still wrestling with it when, after about 20 or 30 minutes of watching her try to get through, I say “Look. I’ll just pay for it. Any day I’d rather be short 40 bucks than get the flu.”
So I ended up paying for a shot that was supposed to be covered by Medicare Part D, for which I pay.
When I got home, I called the number for Medicare shown on the back of the card.
MY GOD, the run-around!!!!!
After a good ten minutes of button-punching, hoop-jumping, waiting waiting waiting waiting waiting waiting listening to aggravating yak and excruciating Muzak, a clueless woman got on the phone.
They train these folks to read a spiel to you. You ask your question, and they get out the spiel and start reading it from start to finish. This one was a lecture on what the flu shot will do for you, what the flu is, why you need a flu shot, and whether Part D would cover it. Believe it or not, she did not KNOW whether Part D covers the flu shot and so wasted some more of my time while she looked it up. I finally interrupted her in the middle of this yak-fest — what’ she’s doing is reading from a Web page and no, this is NOT the first time this fine experience has happened to me when I finally reached a human at a government office — and practically hollered, “I know that! Please don’t read that stuff to me. My question is why didn’t my new Medicare number work when I tried to get a flu shot?!??!?”
Now that we have that figured out, she proceeds to try to find out. To make a very long story short, she doesn’t know. She insisted that the number I recited to her off the card was correct, that everything was in order, and that it should have worked. Curious, she got into the system to see if the Walmart lady was entering something wrong. A-n-n-n-d she could find no trace of an attempted transaction.
She suggested I go back to Walmart and tell them to try again, because Part D still might reimburse me for the $40 that I had to pay to get the shot.
See those random, rather poorly written posts you occasionally come across at Funny? The ones that natter on meaninglessly about such topics as “four good stocks to buy,” as though you’re going to take stock advice from a retired professor of English? Those are paid posts. I get paid over a hundred dollars A MINUTE to put one of those things online. Just now a new editing assignment hit my in-box; for that kind of thing, I get paid upwards of $60 an hour. You seriously think, dear Medicare bureaucrat, that I’m going to go stand around a Walmart for another hour or so, grinding my teeth and arguing over forty bucks? Really?
So now I’ll have to find out whether this incident was a fluke or whether something is fucked up deep in the works of Medicare. Whaddaya bet it’s the latter?
At any rate, she said it will be the middle of next April before all the new cards are mailed out. In the interim, they believe the old cards bearing one’s SS number will still work. She suggested continuing to use that for as long as possible.
So there you have it: that was the general tenor of the day. The whole damn day went like that, with the exception of the actual arrival and success of the guy from Liberty Wildlife, who liberated the hummingbird trapped in the kitchen skylight.
My stove is acting up. I tried to reach Southwest Gas to see if there was some kind of outage. You can NOT reach a human being at Southwest Gas. Even when you send an e-mail, you get a machine-generated fuck-you-very-much response. Whenever I catch my breath from yesterday’s marathon set of run-arounds, I’m writing a complaint to the Corporation Commission about that.
The appliance guy is booked out into the middle of next week. Fortunately, two of the burners — the small ones — are still working, and I do have a camp stove. SDXB, when told this story, thought it sounded more like a problem with the stove than with the gas delivery and thought I shouldn’t try to use the stove at all. But my propane grill doesn’t have a side burner (the one that came with the last grill I had never worked very well, so I decided I’d rather have a shelf than one of those things on the present model). So without a functioning stove, I can’t even make a cup of coffee without heating the water in the microwave.
The aging microwave…
The afternoon will be occupied with the volunteer work I agreed to do down at the Church. Can’t get out of that, because I had to abdicate last week while trying to deal with Cassie’s illness. Fortunately, it’s so quiet there I can bring my computer and do editorial work…which I’ll have to do because today’s incoming consists 8,000 words of arcana due to the publisher on Friday.
Meanwhile, I’ve got to carry a bottle of dog pee to the Second-Opinion vet, to ascertain whether Cassie has a UTI. On Wednesdays, 2nd-O Vet closes his clinic until 4 p.m., then is open from 4 to 8 p.m. So I’ll have to wring out the dog this morning, store the pee in the fridge, FLY back home from the church, let the dogs out, haul the dogs back in, grab the bottle of pee, and drive across the city to the veterinary office. Yes. Through the rush-hour traffic. Over roads that were flooded yesterday.