Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Part III or How Good It Is to Have Insurance Benefits

Now do you know why I split this up into 3 parts? Too much for one entry, but I am writing this down for me since I doubt that anyone reads my blog any more. It's best this way.

The entire summer I did not go to the dentist like I needed. My annual physical and mammogram were due, but I knew I couldn’t get it. I called 2 insurance companies that offered free mammograms out of a boobie van, but neither called me back for an appointment. Being the sister of a breast cancer survivor, all I could think about was how this would impact me if I missed my yearly mammogram.

Luckily for me, my 3-month supply of drugs came the week I was laid off and now they were running out just as I was hired. What a wonderful coincidence!! Something was finally going right. So I finally got a job and was rehired back at the university the first of November. A week after I started back to work my next 3-month supply of drugs came to my door. Hallelujah. I am a lucky woman despite all the shit I have had to endure.

UNTIL THREE WEEKS into my new job. I went to apply for benefits before the deadline and couldn’t get into the application site so I called the benefits office. The reason I couldn’t apply for benefits??? That’s because I not only STILL HAD THEM, but I had them the whole time I was laid off. Yes, you read that right. Apparently, my July paycheck paid for August's bennies, and my September paycheck (the one that was late because of that signature) paid for October's. And oh, by the way, the benefits' rep said, "You OWE us for November. How would you like to pay for that?" Are you kidding me? I could have done medical things this whole time? And now I had to pay my insurance retroactively for a month when I didn’t work so I don’t go without for a month (on paper) and have to start up again. Did you get that? In my favor, the benefits lady called me the next week and said they would “help” me out by taking it out of my next 3 paycheck in equal amounts so I was not shocked by the deduction in one paycheck.

How stupid could I be? When I told the benefits lady what happened, she said, “Well, it was explained in that packet that they gave you the day you were laid off.” (I guess it’s a standard packet for lay-offs.) Ultimately, this is clearly all my fault. Depression can do that to a person. I don’t even remember weeks 11 and 12 as I never got out of my dark room, not once. But can I just say, when you lay off someone after their kid’s wedding and when they are in a state of shock, you might want to point out two things: one, sign that piece of paper getting the paperwork processed before you leave the building, and two, don’t lose sleep over your benefits. They call what happened to me as “temporary work stoppage” and I was covered with benefits as long as I got a paycheck because they always take the deductions out a month ahead, not behind. Instead, they clearly did not have their shit together, and with my shit not together, it was a clusterfuck.

Now I need to call for my annual physical, my pap smear, my dental check-up, my prescription renewal, and my cat’s vet appointment. Okay, I don’t think my benefits cover that last one, but I sure didn’t think I was covered the entire time I was laid off either so I might be in for another surprise. I was glad when 2010 was over and we can move forward to 2011. Seems odd years are better for me as 2007 and 2009 were good years and 2006, 2008, and 2010 were sucky.

But speaking of sucky and depressing, I have come to the conclusion that now that I am in my 50s, life is like "Ole Man River." It just keeps gong along. I am in a job where I have no friends and have to be quiet most of the time. I sit by myself, do my various jobs, eat by myself at my desk, walk around campus by myself, and am never allowed to be myself. I guess teaching in my early years and teaching sex ed were my happiest times for being myself. There is very little interaction between or among people at work because it is a counseling center where we all must be vewwy vewwy quiet. And don't give me any shit about not being able to be quiet. I can. But today, I got frantic because I was on a phone that was unfamiliar to me and lost a call. It was a parent, and I was trying to transfer her call. When it didn't work out, I called over to the young man whose phone it is for help. Well, apparently, I was too frantic in front of a client, and the very calm, very quiet woman who works there "told" on me. Our boss came into my office later in the afternoon and wanted my side of the story, but I thought, "You have got to be kidding me??" I didn't even remember a client at the desk when the phone was fucking up. That very quiet, very calm, very austere woman has never said an encouraging word or a kind word or a helpful word to me since I have started. She is not mean or unkind. It's just her personality and her culture (African). I was assured that the young man at the front desk would have to start dressing more appropriately since we're, well, at the front desk, and in the 3 months I've been there all I have seen him wear is ratty nasty jeans and wrinkled tops (tee or shirts). But I would never think to run to the boss to complain.

So all afternoon I have been thinking about happiness and whether I will ever be happy at work and will I ever feel like I belong and will I ever enjoy my life ever again? Mind you, not having a relationship with anyone at work is far better than my last job where I worked with that totally unprofessional and inappropriate asshole. I really liked my publishing job and feel that once I was laid off in '03, my life has never and will never be the same. I made good money, was good at what I did, traveled, had wonderful friends at work, and felt a sense of accomplishment with each project. I floated around from job to job for years after that, eventually moving to leave my husband (because I couldn't find a decent job and be single in that town). My favorite job in all my life was teaching sex ed for Planned Parenthood, and my favorite year was 2007 when I was in love. I am convinced I will never have a more wonderful job or a more wonderful love or a more wonderful life. And that's ok. I'm not putting myself out there because there is no "out there" to put myself in. That single tenured, soon-to-be-retired professor with a working prostate who loves to go to the theater and travel simply doesn't exist. That wonderful job where I can be myself (outgoing, fun-loving, inventive, motivated) and have friends to go to lunch with and enjoy in and out of work simply doesn't exist. Not in my current life. Not in my field... which is nothingness. I don't have a field.

Add to it a daughter who lives with me and has no goals to move on. I have told her to have something in mind by June 1 or she's out. She does not clean her room, she does not clean up after herself, she drops by to take a shower and then goes back over to her boyfriend's to spend the night. I am embarrassed and frustrated by her actions and lack of actions. She has so many options, and I understand that she might have "option shock," but how many college grads get the opportunity to veg out, work, save money, and decide what she wants to be "when she grows up." I am grateful that she is healthy, not knocked-up, drug-addicted, or unemployed. She is just fucking irresponsible for the most part. I never got that perk in life. I graduated in Dec at the age of 21 and moved to the big city to teach and be on my own. (And in daughter's defense, I would have killed my mother if I had moved in with her after college graduation. Dorothy's moving in with me must speak well to our relationship.)

And then I have to be there when my other daughter calls to complain about her year and her classes and her students. That's what moms are for. But it's only at her convenience. She is rarely, if ever, there for me and hasn't been there since the divorce. Our relationship is completely different since then, and while I don't want to "blame" the divorce, it just seems like a huge coincidence.

Guess I better figure out that odd phone at work so no one "tattles" on me for getting frantic when I lose someone while trying to transfer a call. I guess I would just give my life a B- or C+ right now. Just blah. Not depressing, but certainly not all that happy.

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