Last year, I decided that I wanted to have a small vegetable garden on our patio.
I bought containers and plants, and assembled what I had into a tomato and jalapeño factory. There was no rhyme or reason to my choice of crops. I suppose I just like tomatoes and hot peppers. If farmers chose their crops the way I do, we’d end up with a lot peppers and no Brussels sprouts. The world would be a better place
By the end of the summer, I declared my garden a success. My wife and I had fresh tomatoes for our salads until the first frost. The jalapeño harvest was prodigious; there’s still half of a gallon bag of spicy goodness in our freezer. But the biggest success of my garden was the enjoyment I got from it.
I tend to think that if a little of something is good, more is better. Sometimes that philosophy works, sometimes it gets me in trouble. But my plan this year is to have a bigger garden. A small garden equaled a little fun, so a big garden should equal a lot, right? Read the rest of this entry »
It was a busy day. I spent the morning running writing and running errands. Hitting everything on my to do list felt great. I’d finished the list, except for the thing on it that I’d been looking forward to – lunch.
As I drove, I considered my options. Pizza was a possibility. Some really spicy Thai food would’ve hit the spot. I hadn’t had Chinese food for days. There was a great burger joint close by. And then I decided to try something completely different.
One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others
Not far from our house, there is a little local deli that I’ve never been in. The place is in an older, interesting looking building that I’ve wanted to get a look at. It always looks busy at lunch. I took that as a good sign and gave the joint a shot. Read the rest of this entry »
I suppose the right thing to do is to start by saying that I don’t foresee the plans I’m putting in place here being used for a long time. My health is better than it has been in years. Barring being hit by a meteor or being mauled by a bear, I’m pretty certain I’m going to live for quite a while. One hundred years is not out of the question.
But there is some wisdom in establishing my wishes for when it is my time to go. The last thing I want my family wondering about after I’m gone is my funeral arrangements. To be sure they don’t, I’m going to lay my wishes out here, in a place where they’ll be easy to find in 2061…or 2062, if I push it and go for one-hundred-one years.
Cremation seems the way to go. It’s cheaper, and it eliminates that whole situation where people show up at a funeral home to look at what’s left of me lounging around in a box. Let’s face it, no one wants to see that. It is a creepy tradition that has to stop. I’m doing my part.
That’s just the first step. Yes, there’s more. Read the rest of this entry »
This doesn’t mark three years ago that my friend died, the number is now four. I tried writing something new about him but the words didn’t come this year. Sometimes it goes like that. This is a reprint of last year’s piece on this date.
Humor returns to the blog tomorrow.
Today, as every day, I miss Fred.
Three years ago today was a Friday. I’d slipped out-of-town for an over-night visit with my son at college. By the time I arrived, Fred had passed away back home.
Despite a heroic effort to contact me, I didn’t know we’d lost him until I read the news the next morning. I remember staring a lot that day. There were other things, but mostly there was staring.
That Saturday night, back home, I was still staring. I published what I felt that night, and then went to work at 4:30 a.m. Sunday, on no sleep, for my first shift without him. I wasn’t the only one sleepless and staring.
The staring returned this morning. I’m angry about the accident that cost his life months before he was to retire. I’m hurt for his family as they move on without him. I’m disappointed that I can’t call him to laugh about some of the stories we lived through and compare notes on how much being retired from The Job doesn’t suck.
But I’m also happy to have had the privilege to enjoy time with Fred. That’s the direction I hope the staring takes me today.
Things are better than they were three years ago. A lot of water has gone under the bridge. I’m stronger, healthier and smarter. I’ve even learned lessons because Freddy had to leave; I’d rather have stayed ignorant of those.
It is quiet today. I’ll take time to think about the stuff we saw and did. And about pulling each others bacon out of the fire on several occasions. And finding each other on SWAT calls and saying “I’ll see you when this is over”.
Life goes on, brother. It is good.
I’ll see you when this is over, but it’s gonna be a while.
Fortes Fortuna Juvat.
Another writer’s description of being touched by karma (no, really, it touched her) got me to thinking about that doctrine of Buddhism.
Karma is a law of moral causation. According to it, what we do affects our current and future existence. People pretty much get what’s coming to them based on their behavior.
I reflected upon what I’d read and about the meaning of karma. I considered my life and the positive and negative consequences that have developed from the choices I made. Visions of ways I’ve seen karma affect others ran through my mind.
Yeah, I’m deep that way.
So, I was Eating An English Muffin And Thinking…
I kept thinking. Thinking of how the story I’d read was a reminder to the author that karma would put things right if she’d relax and let it happen. Thinking of the times when I’ve seen people do evil or do good and nearly instantly find their lives appropriately affected. Thinking of the times when I’ve seen people do evil or do good and silently hoped that, eventually, they’d get what was coming to them.
There’s something satisfying about karma. It’s not very Buddhist of us to think this way, but we like seeing folks reap what they sow. That is part of our nature. We want karma to work instantly. It often doesn’t. That’s frustrating. Read the rest of this entry »
A little over a month ago, I had a particularly bad bout of allergy problems. I fought as hard as I could. The allergy symptoms eventually got the best of me. So I headed off to a MinuteClinic in a local CVS Pharmacy. Little did I know that this was the start of an ordeal that would cost me far more than a minute.
I’m going to be fair and tell you that things went very well during my visit to the clinic. The nurse at my MinuteClinic carefully diagnosed my problem, prescribed some medication to get me some relief and even made sure my flu shot was up to date. I had my prescriptions in hand in a flash and was on my way home for the first good night of sleep I’d had in days. And then…
The Odyssey Of Minute Clinic Customer Service
There’s so often an “and then” in life, isn’t there? You deal with someone who is really on top of their game…and then. MinuteClinic’s “and then” isn’t in the clinics themselves, it is after the cure takes effect.
A few weeks after getting relief for my allergies, my wife and I were on vacation. She received an email from American Express that a charge on our card at CVS, hundreds of miles away, back home. This was of great concern to us. We’d just been through getting a new card after our old account was compromised. A call to American Express didn’t help us figure out what the charge was and we had to put an alert on our card to make sure there were no further potentially fraudulent charges.
I had a theory that the charge was somehow related to my MinuteClinic visit, so I made my first of many calls to the third circle of hell that is the MinuteClinic Customer Service line. I got someone on the phone inexplicably fast, given what I’d later experience, but she was not much help. After asking a series of questions, the first person I spoke to at MinuteClinic customer service said to me “yes, you did go to the clinic on October 3”.
Optimist that I am, I thought that was her just letting me know that she found my record. It wasn’t. That was the full extent of the information that she was able to give me. I already knew that I’d been to the clinic. I explained my plight again – I was on vacation with a credit card that was nearly impossible to use because of a potentially fraudulent charge at CVS MinuteClinic. She told me that was a question for the billing department.
“Great”, I said, “go on and connect me to billing and we’ll get this ironed out”. She wasn’t able to do that since the billing department was only open Monday through Friday and this was Saturday. Wonderful. They bill on Saturday, but the bill-er’s are inexplicably not present. So, because of CVS MinuteClinic, we were stuck in Florida with a credit card that was only good for picking door locks.
After we returned home, I made nine different calls trying to reach the MinuteClinic billing department. Here is what I learned from those calls – I learned that my call is important to them. It isn’t important enough to actually answer my call, but I must put off an aura of importance that they value because they told me over and over how important it was that I called…each time the recording told me to continue holding. For seven of those calls I was not able to hold long enough to speak to a representative. On each of those seven calls I was on hold for more than forty-five minutes before I surrendered.
On the eighth call I got a different recording that instructed to call back when the billing office was open from 9-5, Monday through Friday.
I’d dialed them at 3p.m. on a Wednesday.
I decided to try the social media route. I posted a gripe about the “call back when we’re open” message and got a rapid reply. “Please send us your name and email, we’ll have someone get in touch with you.” Foolishly, I thought this was the beginning of the end of my battle. Eighteen hours later, I’d not received an email or a call. I’d have to fight on.
And On The Ninth Call, A Miracle Happened
I decided to let CVS Minute Clinic have one more shot at getting this right.
After one hour and six minutes of listening to hold music and being reminded how important my call was, I heard someone come on the line and ask if she could help me. I opened by acknowledging that I was sure she heard this complaint all day, but I thought she should know that being on hold for an hour and six minutes didn’t make me feel important. Now, when I said that I didn’t expect that she’d say “I’m sorry, it’s all my fault” because it probably wasn’t.
I did expect her to say something more than “yeah, it’s bad”. Restating the obvious sometimes only magnifies it.
So I explained my situation. That’s not true, I told her that their hold music sucks and then I explained my situation.
Four minutes. That’s all it took. She was efficient in the way that I’d hope that someone who I’d spent six hours of my life waiting to talk to would be. The charge was finally confirmed as legitimate and my CVS MinuteClinic Customer Service ordeal came to an end. I thanked her for her help and let her move on to the next person who, I’m sure, would start their conversation with “do you have any idea how long I’ve been on hold?”
Sometimes, I look back on situations and ask myself what I’d do differently if given the chance. In this case, I’d have to say that I’d be more resistant to allergens. Also, I’d have put my headphones on and listened to better music than that stuff CVS chose for their hold music.
I wonder if CVS MinuteClinic ever wonders what they could do to make situations right. If they do, compensating me for my time would be a nice place to start.
I’m a guy. In fact, I’m a guy who has been known to walk in to a bar.
A guy walks in to a bar. He is carrying jumper cables. The bartender says “hey man, don’t start anything in here.”
“A guy walks in to a bar” is the start of so many good jokes. The guy walks in and the joke lies in his interaction with the bartender. When the guy in the joke changes into a group of stereotypical characters or even an animal, walking in to a bar is still what makes the magic happen.
Ebola walks into a bar. Bartender says “we don’t serve infections viruses in here”. Ebola says “you’re a lousy host”. Read the rest of this entry »