mom didn't attach a deadline to her Prophesy of Great Loss, I've
read enough into it to determine that it apparently was timed to
break loose with the coming of the Third
Thousand Years Since The Church Started Numbering Them, earlier
in this year of 2001. That's the only rational explanation for the
sudden and accelerating losses going on around here.
It started with the stock market debacle over the winter, when lots
of casual investors lost much of their wealth, and many dot
commers lost their jobs. Of course, I never got around to buying
any stocks until everything hit bottom, and I'm still working, so
that's not really where it started with me. During that same period,
I managed to simply Lose It in the more abstract and idiomatic sense.
The first blow was general forgetfulness and idea loss. Now that
I have the prematurely worn body of a 40 year old stunt
man, I'm developing the mind of a 80 year old mercury
taster. I've developed a new routine where I say "wallet,
phone, keys, Palm Pilot" before leaving the house, just to
make sure I've got everything. The Palm is the important thing to
remember, as it retains most of my fact based, collective intelligence:
phone numbers, medical appointments and my best friends' first names.
I started out life rather smart. Management types realized I could
be used as fuel to propel their Corporate Organization Machines,
specifically as a General Director of All Technology That Is Not
Creative or Interesting. Four years later I'm feeling rather burnt
out. It doesn't help that I am also awfully intense and driven.
In fact, looking at my past managers, it becomes clear that I had
a large hand in burning myself out; they were all just "facilitators"
(which is a word I rank alongside "paradigm" and "utilize"
as wholly annoying. I apologize for using it.)
But my mind was only the first thing to go. While on a trip five
months ago, a second major loss came from my wildly speculative
investment in a Wells
Fargo High Risk Checking Account, also known as Regular Joe
Checking. Wells Fargo liquidated my life savings and handed the
proceeds to a stranger in a state I have never visited.
After three months of wrangling with various unprofessional tellers
("it's not our fault fraudulent activity occurred on your account!"
...Um, actually it is because you handed someone all my money without
checking their signature...), phone bankers ("thank you for
using phone banking. The fee will be deducted from your already
overdrawn account, with additional
fees for being overdrawn because we gave all your money away.
This leaves a negative balance below the minimum balance, which
incurs an additional fee...") and fraud specialists (who spelled
my name wrong three times in correspondence; it is not a difficult
name to spell), Wells Fargo finally credited the fraud amount back
to my account.
They notified me in a letter I received a couple days after the
same person took the entire amount again, plus the minimum balance
I'd deposited to cover all the fees they were charging me. The business
is still in progress, but I managed to find a helpful person in
the fraud department who knew what she was doing and promised to
help out. This has tied up all my money for four months now.
The third major loss occurred over something I didn't yet have.
After my assembly of doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists
and the Social Health System of the Republic of France consulted
together and granted me a glorious four weeks of short term disability
related to my herniated disc,
along with lots of drugs, my company took me off payroll and helped
me enter a claim from the State of California, and UNUM Providence,
their private disability insurance company.
The State quickly sent me a check for four weeks of Zen Subsistence.
This does not pay rent in San Francisco unless you are homeless,
and is the reason my company pays UNUM
to cover the difference of the State's official minimalism and 66%
of my salary. UNUM, in a brilliant stroke of Bureaucratic Claim
Management, denied me all but five days of paid disability, based
on a lack of records, ICD
9 codes and various problems with forms submitted by my HMO.
It seems that Kaiser Permanente, which handles most of my health
care, was not able to correctly fill out the forms to sufficiently
provoke a claim rep into opening the gates of the UNUM treasury
and cutting me a check for two thirds of my salary while I was off
work on disability.
charges its members per request and per page for their own medical
records, so I attempted to trick Catherine Nemata (665 North Central
Avenue, Suite 800, Glendale California, 91203), my UNUM Customer
into obtaining the documents she needed from Kaiser so she could
ascertain my medical condition and make the bureaucratically correct,
LA-Suburb-Based Call Center Diagnosis that my Primary Care Provider,
Kaiser's Physical Therapy Group, my private chiropractor and the
Social Health System of the Republic of France were all so woefully
unable to do using old fashioned finger poking, visual examination,
and such "medical" tom foolery as MRI
and those Buck Rogers X-Ray machines, which, incidentally, do not
in themselves even offer the possibility of issuing the required
ICD 9 codes on the proper forms.
UNUM not only doesn't return phone calls or mail, but is also at
a loss on how to contact relatively obscure health based organizations
like the so-called "Kaiser Permanente of California".
Four months after the original claim, Catherine Nemata finally left
me a message saying she requested my records twice in that time
period--that was twice in four months--and hasn't heard anything
meanwhile, has no record of any requests at all from UNUM. Any lawyers
out there who want to sue two fat, profitable companies with me?
Let's dig into the trenches together and fight the bureaucratic
La Little Guy!
Loss number four was my black Trek mountain bike. It has some sentimental
value stemming from the fact that it suffered car scrapes underneath
me as I was hurled through an intersection by inattentive drivers
on two separate occasions, two months apart; once at 17th and Shotwell,
another time at 6th and Judah. Before you beat me with your baton
over being a reckless City biker, let me assure you that I was a
low risk, mild mannered bike commuter. I don't ride much any more
because I am now permanently Kaisered.
Full Disclosure: I was once pulled over by a police car in a heavy
downpour in the Deep Mission, probably along 22nd Street, which
has four way stop signs on every block. I was trying to avoid the
traffic along 17th, which is an official bike lane, but also a traffic
thoroughfare and the site of my previous Rockem
Sockem near Shotwell. Because there were no cars around and
it was raining so hard, I wasn't making fully complete stops at
each intersection. The officer took control of the situation and
acted to prevent further damage from my abuse of the civil safety
code by threatening to take my bike away and make me walk home in
the rain. Fortunately, I was able to use my highly polished groveling
skills to get my bike back for the wet, three mile ride back
to Page Street.
His gracious pardon allowed me to retain bike number two for another
couple years; my first bike had been stolen years earlier when I
first came to town. After it was stolen, a con man welcomed me to
the City, and particularly the seedy
area between the Civic Center and Powell Station, by mugging
me behind the old Mint while purportedly helping me to recover it
from "the thieves".
Anyway, bike number two disappeared from our company garage under
circumstances that made it appear to be an inside job. The Case
of the Missing Bike was solved using, quite possibly, the first
productive use of email directed to the Whole Company Email List.
It turns out that one of my coworkers thought the bike belonged
to another employee who just left the company. So now bike number
two is in some car locked up in some garage in Chicago.
There are three sets of keys and a plane ticket involved in recovering
it. So sorry, I can't ride today as my bike is in Illinois.
There have been other significant losses. My always positive, strong
willed friend Diana Lee finally succumbed to cancer last week. Thinking
about her inner strength despite her painful circumstance keeps
me going when I get really depressed. Ed Azuma, another friend,
lost his back but gained my chiropractor. My roommate Tat, who laughed
at, and later loathed my stories about him,
lost his car to thieves, but since it was at a shop getting worked
on, he got a big settlement and ended up with a better car. We lost
a roommate, then Lost A Roommate,
but ended up with a new one, although he is never around. Where
are you Askia?
All in all, things are going well enough. I have a lot left to lose,
even if the year isn't over yet. Earlier today, our company controller
emailed me to say I have 40 hours of vacation that hadn't been credited
yet, meaning I will be off on another trip shortly. So stay tuned,
send me email and hang in
there--we only have six months until this New Millennium wears out
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