Monday, February 3, 2014

"I Understand," He Said

Confession time. They say confession is good for the soul. I know this is true. Being a minister, I've said it often enough.

This weekend from Friday to Sunday was spent in a teary eyed haze. Part of the reason was the PBA I suffer since my stroke. Part of it was the circumstance I find myself in. Another part was me being on the pity pot and just so blasted angry, frustrated, and tired. My thoughts just wouldn't stop and to be truthful I wouldn't let them. But that's not my confession. That just is.

Thursday my husband's electric wheel chair decided to quit. It sounded like something had
wrapped itself around the wheel and prevented it from moving. I thought if I could tilt it I could look under the thing and maybe fix it. While I could push it and rock it, there was no way to control the fall with only one hand. Remember forethought before action. So I tried to think of another way to do it and failed. I eventually gave up and called the company I bought it from.

They picked it up and took it back to their shop. Friday morning they called with the bad news. One of the motors had fried. Because we bought it used it has no warranty. It is going to cost as much as we paid for the thing to fix this one motor and it has two. Knowing Murphy's Law so well, I figured as soon as we replace this one motor the other one will go out too. Not to mention we didn't have the funds to replace the first one.

So all day Saturday, I searched for ways to come up with funds for the replacement motor. It's amazing how many family members and friends you have when you have money and how fast they fade into the woodwork when you don't. It's doubly hard when you've spent your life in service to others like I have.

Now that I've set the background for the confession I'll confess.

I started calling all my regular bills like telephone and cable because those are fat bills.  They almost fit in the luxury category. Granted having 300+ channels on televisions we don't watch is a luxury. Having internet service is a need based luxury. I do business via the internet. Stay in contact with family, friends, and fans via the internet so it becomes a cost of doing business (and pleasure) for both my husband and myself. My land line telephone isn't even being used because I can't get to it fast enough since my stroke. It was kept in place because of the emergency life support services.

I'd dealt with the cable company to get bare bones television while maintaining my internet. It saved us over $100 a month.

Now I was tangling with the telephone company. I first went to their internet live chat helper with one simple question, "Can I still keep my cell phone if I delete my land line?" The online chat helper was geared to U-verse questions only so no help there. I called their 888 number. Put on hold for a live person for ten minutes. Listened to crappy music and a recording to how important my call was. A live person answered finally. She couldn't help me so she transferred me to another department.

Another ten minutes of listening to music and apologies. A real voice came on the line. I asked my question. He asked me if I was on the U-verse plan. Uh no I wasn't. He had to transfer me again.

Meanwhile my cell phone is heating up my ear. I place it on my desk and start bobbing my head from side to side in the "Jeopardy" theme song. I'm making snide comments back to the computerized voice telling me "Thank you for waiting..." Heck I have nothing better to do today except for listening to your canned music and playing phone tag because YOU can't get your act together.

Finally a male cheery voice came on the line interrupting the recorded one. When I told him I needed to cut the fat off my bill he innocently said, "I understand. We are all going through some rough times right now."
I lost it totally to this man in Minnesota. "Oh you mean you had a stroke and lost the function on one side of your body, AND you are caring for a terminally ill spouse too? Small world, ain't it?"
He started stammering and tripping all over the place.

Part of me was self satisfied and another part of me cringed in guilt. My finances or circumstances were not his fault. But so many people have this canned speech prepared without thinking just what they are saying. I was tired on hearing it.

How many times has this situation come up with you? Over on Amy Sissler's blog, we had a discussion about expressions of sympathy that are construed as empathy. Or you are talking about the paralysis in your arm and a friend compares it to when she broke her arm and wore a cast for two months. So many well meaning friends and strangers saying things that they think are supportive but really are just a slap in our face. Not that I don't appreciate the gesture, I do. But understand it is sometimes better to give just a hug and a smile. Granted this poor guy couldn't do either so he said the first thing that popped into his head or something he was trained to say.

At the end...Yes I can have my cell phone and close out my land line account. Better yet for the next 30 days all my land line calls would be directed to my cell phone. For the ultimate, I'm now only $150 away from getting my husband's chair fixed. I think if I had to do it over again, I wouldn't have lashed out at this young man.

That's the truth.


  1. You're under pressure and that's when the safety valve blew. It's not limited to you. Believe me. And it's not something the guy in Minnesota will worry about for long. He's already forgotten it. Just take a breath and know you're doing all you can to take care of what you need to for your hubby. {{{{hugs}}}}

  2. After I got sick and couldn't work....our money got much tighter. I looked at all kinds of ways to save money. We got rid of our regular land line too. But I still needed to fax things, mostly to and from my doctors, so I got magic jack. It was the cheapest way to "keep a landline and fax ability". It works great and is very inexpensive.
    I don't think anyone could come close to "understanding" your plight unless they walked a mile in your shoes....with a decubiti."I'm sorry", is a way better statement than "I understand".

  3. Jo, he's learned to not take the undeserved back-lash personally. Customer service people hear that all day long - they pick up the phone and the caller is in attack mode before the service rep has said a word. In fact, customer service reps often tell stories at lunch about customers. It's even a competition sometimes - who had the worst experience that morning?

    I can only hope that your call was discussed at lunch and they spoke philosophically about how to deal with people with bigger problems than they have.

  4. P.S. I hope your confession made you feel better. And congratulations on being able to reduce your bills!!

  5. Jo, I know how hard it is dealing with bills, etc. and "customer service" people, and forgetabout that jerk ---grrr...

    Have you thought about putting a PayPal Donate button on your blog??? I put one on mine, only after a reader suggested it, and it's easy to do! And hey! You've got more readers than me, and even I've gotten some donations and it's been a real blessing! and has helped us through some hard times.

    Also, do you have a Center for Independent Living in your area? We have one here, called Disability Achievement Center and they have helped pay for Bob's wheelchair.

    Anyway, hope this helps and hang in there.

  6. Diane, We have Council for the Aging. While hospice will provide a wheelchair for my hubby, they will not do a powered one. (I have the problem pushing the wheel chair not him- not that he can navigate a manual one and I've got one) Because he's on hospice medicare and private insurance will not pay for an electric one.

    As far as a Paypal donation button, it has been suggested many times but I haven't. Too much paperwork involved in donations.

    It could be worse. I could be in your shoes. Hugs.


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