Fun And Games Off Duty

Toddler Logic

When my daughter was just a toddler, she began to dress herself. Of course, it had hit and miss days. This day, she would be appropriate, that day she would be attempting to go out doors in 50 degree weather in shorts and a tank top.

So, one day, her mother was off at school, I had the day off, and Brenda came downstairs in long pants, over which she was wearing a dress. Overtop this she had a long sleeved blouse, which was peeking out from beneath a sweater.

I stopped her. “Honey, you need to dress in one outfit, not several. You look like a bag lady.”

At three, she had her own mind. “I’m NOT a bag lady!”

I agreed. “That’s true, but you are dressed like you were a bag lady. Go back to your room, take that stuff off, dress in one outfit, and put the rest of the clothes away.”

She crossed her arms, and laid down the law. “I am *NOT* a bag lady!”

I repeated myself. “honey, I realize that you are not a bag lady, but you are dressed in something like a bag lady uniform. Now, go back upstairs, select one outfit, wear that outfit, put the rest of those clothes away neatly, and come back downstairs. You cannot go out dressed like you were a bag lady!”

She set her feet, crossed her arms, cocked her head, and set me straight.

“I’m *NOT* a bag lady, you fat old man!”

Duty · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important!

PROFESSIONALISM, PART II

So, Carmen, my grand daughter, had a couple of additional Magical Mystery Tours of Peds ICU. Brenda, her mom, wound their way through the maze of physicians, and specialists, treating, and attempting to diagnose, what was underlying our recurrent Monday-evening-Grandpa-visits.

Eventually, one of the specialists determined that a surgery would mitigate Carmen’s breathing difficulties, and so a surgical date was set, in a distant Big City Medical Center. Brenda told both of her parents, and her conversation with me went along the lines of “Dad, so Carmen is going to have surgery on (date), at Big City Pediatric Hospital.”

(Dad): “uh huh. I’ll be there.”

(Brenda): “Uh, Dad? So, Mom is gonna be there, too.”

(Dad): “Uh huh. Why would there be any question about that?”

(Brenda):”Well, I know you guys are going through that divorce, and things might be…tense..if you were both in the same room.”:

(Dad):”Well, Honey, your mom is a grown up professional, I flatter myself that I am a grown up professional, and while we are there with you, for that time, what I think about your mother, or what she thinks about me, well, nobody cares. This is about you and Carmen, and nothing else is on my plate for that time. I don’t anticipate any drama coming from either of us. I know I won’t cause any drama, and I am confident that your mother will not, either.”

So, we met at the appointed time, and greeted each other. Carmen received her IV, and was pre medicated, and rested on her mother’s lap, soon falling asleep. I have a photograph, somewhere, of Carmen, relaxedly asleep, on Brenda’s lap, Brenda appearing fatigued herself.

Carmen went for her surgery, and returned, post operatively. Carmen had an uneventful post operative course, and Brenda took her child home. Today, a dozen years later, Carmen is newly adolescent, The Big Sister, and perfectly healthy.

Oh, and my pre and post op interactions with The Plaintiff? Benevolent, professional, and child (and grandchild) focused. No drama.

Duty · Fun And Games Off Duty · Gratitude · Pre Planning Your Scene · Sometimes You Get to Think That You Have Accomplished Something!

PROFESSIONALISM

While my divorce was unwinding, I was working midnights in the ED of Mid Sized Hospital in the Adjacent Relatively Big City. I had a seven on/seven off schedule, which worked out pretty well for the week on/week off custody schedule for the youngest two kids.

So, TINS©, TIWFDASL© (well, to be precise, I was standing in my kitchen, looking around to see what I had forgotten to pack for the night to come), when my phone rang. My darling daughter was on the line. “Hey, Dad! How would you like to come over and take a look at your grand daughter?”

“I’m always up to visit my grand daughter, as well as her mother! What’s the occasion?”

“Well, Carmen is having some difficulty breathing, and I’d like you to look at her and tell me what to do.”

“Be right over. Unlock your door!”

A couple of minutes later, I was knocking on her door, stethoscope around my neck. Brenda opened the door, and I heard Carmen wheezing from across the room. “Call the ambulance, right now!”

Brenda was unconvinced. “Dad, if we call the ambulance, they will simply take her to Local Small Town Hospital. They will simply wind up transferring her to Next Town Big Hospital. Why don’t we just drive her to Big Hospital, ourselves?”

Good time for me to collect data. “Honey, do either you or baby daddy know CPR?”

“Um, no.”

“Y’all have oxygen in your car?”

“No!”

“You guys have any way to alert Big Hospital ED that you are coming in hot with a critically ill child?”

“You know we don’t!”

“So, let’s call EMS, who do indeed know all those things, and have all those things, so that they can treat Carmen properly, hmm?”

“We’ll just drive her over to Small Town Hospital, ourselves.”

“NOW, sweetheart. Right now!”

“I just have to…”

“No, you don’t. Get your ass on the way, right freaking now, and no more delay. Now!”

As they cleared the door, I phoned Local Hospital ED, where I had been an ED nurse, and provided a heads up. “Hey, my daughter is on the way with my grand daughter, who is in respiratory distress. Under a year of age.”

“When will they be here?”

“Open your door, now!”

I locked up, and made my way to Local ED. Once there, I saw the staff meeting that was a pediatric critical child. The ED physician was in the room, my daughter and baby daddy, two ED nurses, a respiratory therapist, the lab, and a couple of other folks that I could not make out in the crowd. I spoke to my daughter, and told her that I was off to work, and I’d stop by in the morning to see how things were going.

I called my daughter the next morning, on my way out of work, and met her at the Big Hospital Peds ICU. She told me that, unsurprisingly (to me), Local Hospital had tested, x rayed, oxygen-ed, and IV-d Carmen, and then transferred her to Big Hospital, via Peds Mobile ICU ambulance. Carmen was considerably improved over last night. I could not hear any wheezing, and she appeared to breathing easily within her oxygen tent. I said my hello to Carmen, ascertained if my daughter needed anything from me, and said my goodbyes to return home, and to bed.

Carmen was discharged the following day, and Brenda had a ream of instructions, as well as the opportunity to administer breathing treatments, as well as oral medications, to an infant several times daily. As a civilian, not a nurse.

A couple of weeks later, I was again preparing for work, and, again, received a phone call from my daughter, again inviting me to visit Carmen. “Always delighted to visit. What’s the occasion, this time?”

“She’s struggling to breathe, and the breathing treatment did not seem to help today.”

I instructed Brenda to immediately go directly to Local Hospital ED. “But, they will simply send her to Big Hospital again!”

“Yep, that is entirely likely. As is the fact that they will send her in a peds MICU, with a physician, respiratory therapist, and a couple of paramedics. All of which I highly approve of. Now, get going, right now!”

I, again, met Brenda at our local ED, again Carmen was the center of a veritable staff roll call in the treatment room, and, again, that evening she was whisked as described, approvingly, above, back to peds ICU at Big Hospital.

I stopped by the next morning. Brenda greeted me. “Dad, just like you said, they transferred her by ambulance back here. When we arrived, all the ICU nurses remembered Carmen, and were crying as they brought in the vent, the crash cart, and the intubation cart. Mom was here, and, gotta tell you, I was trying as hard as I could to keep it together for Carmen. The nurses’ crying was *NOT* helping! If mom had not been here, I would have lost my mind!”

I replied, “Honey, your mom is a pretty good nurse, and she keeps her head really well in a crisis. I’m really glad that she was here for you!”

And, at that point, I did the smartest thing I had done in a while. Right then, I shut up!

Gratitude · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Sometimes You Get to Think That You Have Accomplished Something!

“He Didn’t Have To Be”

Well, campers, the sun is shining, it is 40-something outside, and that means that, in The Un-Named Flyover State, it is time to start sunbathing!

Well, almost, but not quite. In any event, it is time to reflect, gratefully, on the looming advent of spring. And, that turns me back to my recent theme, gratitude and thankfulness.

In 2006-2007, The Plaintiff divorced me. It was a dark time. I had taken-for-granted (perhaps, one of our problems, right there?) that she would always be there, and that we would always work through our rough spots. I was, of course, mistaken, and the divorce provided irrefutable evidence of same.

I was immersed in depression, and found myself weeping at traffic lights, for example. (Has anybody else experienced the angst, the melancholy, pouring out of a RED LIGHT?) (uh, no? oh, ok. Maybe it was simply me…..)

It was in the midst of this self pity party, that my step daughter (who I have everywhere else referred to as my daughter, as that is how I view her, notwithstanding the fact that she has none of my chromosomes) made for me, and gave me, a Christmas gift, that I treasure to this very day.

Brad Paisley has a song, on his Who Needs Pictures album, entitled “He Didn’t Have to Be”. The narrative is a step child (in Paisley’s, and his co writer’s case, a son), who gets included early on in his single mother and (to be) step dad’s activities, and how that forms a family. My daughter copied that song, and created a slideshow, set to that song, of photographs of my children, their mother and I, as our own family formed, and grew.

I wept. At the time my daughter created that slideshow, she was, herself, a single mother, working full time, as well as going to school full time. Her child, my oldest grand daughter, had spent more than a little time in pediatric ICU. My daughter had spent who knows how many hours collecting those photos, organizing them, arranging them, including that song, knowing that it would touch my heart, perhaps knowing, even, that I *needed* that memoir.

That was the single nicest, most apt, most engaging Christmas present, that I have ever received. She gave it to me for Christmas 2007, and I played it, again, today.

Over 13 years later, I wept, again. Thank you, honey. You have touched me, again. Still.

For so many reasons, I am grateful for my children.

Fun With Suits! · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

Kharma

This looks like it’s going to be a lengthy spiel. Hope y’all are ready!

Perhaps, in previous ramblings, I have touched on the assertion, I credit it to Ragnar Benson, relating that, if one were to consider the deaths and illnesses attributable to contaminated water supplies, it is not unrealistic to consider that it is entirely likely that plumbers, and assurance of safe water that is their stock-in-trade, have preserved more lives, and done more to alleviate human illness and suffering, than all the physicians ever born.

I remember this thought every time that I am credited with saving lives, or some such stuff. I am as good as I am, in large part due to the folks with whom I work.

And, then there is the lay-of-the-land aspects that can accompany cordial relations with your co-workers.

So, TINS©, TIWFDASL© in a walk in clinic in Da Nawth Country. It had been somewhat tumultuous , negotiating with my locums company, as they had contracted that I start on “Date A”, yet, 4 or 5 days prior to “Date A”, had informed me that things were not organized as needed, and some aspect of my credentialing was awry, and therefore I was not going to start on “Date A”. Therefore, I was not going to be getting paid, starting on “Date A”.

I acknowledged this tidbit. I asked when they anticipated my starting work, and starting receiving pay.

My recruiter could not tell me.

I noted that I had a contract stating that I would be working for The Locums Company, starting on “Date A”, and I anticipated starting to receive pay from The Locums Company, beginning on “Date A”.

The recruiter protested that, since I was not fully credentialed, I could not work, and therefore I would not be getting paid until all these wonderful things came together, and I was, indeed, working.

I set a limit. A hard limit. “Well, simply so that you understand how things will work, *SOMEBODY* is going to be paying me, starting on “Date A”. Your input into this conversation, is will it be The Locums Company, or will it be somebody else. And, just to make everything even plainer, whoever is paying me on “Date A”, will have my loyalty. That means that, if you folks are *NOT* the ones paying me, and you abruptly get your shit together, and invite me to start working at your client’s clinic, well, I am not about to pimp the folks who are providing me with a paycheck, simply because your organization is so grabasstic that you cannot get your credentialing in a group, by the date that *YOU* specified.”

He sputtered, “We have a contract! You have committed to work for us!”

I had read that contract. “Yep. You committed to pay me for my clinical services starting, oh, next Monday. Now come you, to inform me that you are not planning to pay me, starting next Monday. Now, I am not a lawyer, I do not play a lawyer on TV, and I did not stay in a Holiday Inn last night, but it certainly appears that you are proposing to breach one of the foundational elements of your contract, and thereby nullify the entire thing. If you are paying me, then my time is yours. If you have breached that contract by not paying me, then you can go piss up a rope.”

He continued to sputter. “I cannot simply approve paying you for not working.”

“Cool story. Howzabout you speak to somebody who can, indeed, authorize you to abide by the terms of your contract, and let me know how that turns out? As for me, I’m looking for work. If you get your shit together before I find other work, perhaps we can move forward in a mutually profitable way. If not, well, toodle-oo!”

The call terminated. I placed a call to Another Locums Company, with whom I had worked, and who had demonstrated that their stool was, indeed, in a pool. That recruiter and I had a cheery chat, and she promised to see what they had available, and call me back as soon as possible.

The next day, The Locums Company recruiter, who triggered this rant, called me back, breathlessly informing me that they *WOULD* pay me, as if I was working 40 hours, 9-5. In return, I would be on a 24 hour alert to report to the client clinic, upon The Locums Company’s notification that all had been ironed out. His tone was consistent with “…and don’t you try to weasel your way out of it!”

My response was, “Well, if you are paying me, then my time is yours, and I will be available to report for work as soon as is reasonable. 24 hours sounds reasonable.”

So, I hung around, puttering around, and after a couple of days, received The Call, shortly followed by a call from The Client Clinic. These worthies articulated concern. “Uh, you know we are up north, right?”

“Yep. I kind of had figured that out, in the course of the interactions with The Northern State Licensing Authorities. Those conversations led me to assume that this placement would be in The Northern State.”

“So”, they continued, “It’s January, and, well, we get snow here.”

“I had assumed that snow had something to do with your state’s reputation as a skiing destination.”

“So, have you ever driven in snow?”

This was surprising. If somebody had read, oh, the FIRST 6 INCHES of my FREAKING RESUME, it is exceedingly likely that this reader could figure out that I had spent considerable time in A Northern Fly Over State, wherein, every year, there was an abundance of snow on the ground for, oh, heck, 5 or 6 months of the year. My response did not, however, convey this surprise. “Uh, yeah, some.”

“Are you comfortable driving in snow?”

Another aside: it occurred to me that this particular line of inquiry might have been useful, say, during the freaking phone interview. Not the goddamned day before I was to drive my clinical ass up to start work. Again, my response was milder than my thoughts. “Yeah, I’m Ok with driving in snow.”

But, they were not going to let this go. “Are you sure? We really get a lot of snow, you know!”

I was over this line of conversation. “Look, I grew up in A Northern Fly Over State, we get assloads of snow every winter. If you have seen my resume, you will realize that, not only did I learn to drive in that state, I worked my way through Nursing school working for EMS in Da City in that very state. My children were born there, and every one of *them* learned to drive in the winter, in the snow. Since this is not Fairbanks Regional Medical Center, I am pretty sure that I have seen me some snow, and that I can handle it.”

I packed up my stuff, and set out for The Client Clinic.

I got oriented, and was introduced to the EMR. On my first day in clinic, I introduced myself to the registration staff, and the floor staff. Between patients, we swapped stories. This MA was prepping for Nursing school, that one was in undergrad for business. This other one was a survivalist, and prepping for The Zombie Apocalypse. (Kindred spirit, right there!)

A couple of weeks into the contract, things were tranquil. My MA asked me if I knew why my predecessor had quit, abruptly.

I allowed that I did not know all that much about it, simply that this soul had departed with inadequate notice.

Her eyes lit up. “Ahh! You need ‘The Rest Of The Story’!” She informed me that my predecessor had discovered that he, the clinician, had not been accredited with two of the most common third party payors in that area, and, since they were something like 70-80% of the payor mix, not receiving payment for care of those patients would present a cash flow problem of significant proportions.

It seemed that the clinic had elected to have this clinician’s visits billed as if another, credentialed, provider had in fact seen, interviewed, evaluated, diagnosed, and treated those patients. Since this was not exactly accurate, it potentially could get ugly. Very, very ugly.

When it appeared that this clinician would not see that situation remedied, right stat like, that clinician elected to remove himself from that particular pot of stew, immediately. Hence, the opportunity which featured me fighting disease and saving lives.

I spoke with my recruiter at once, and observed that, he either would provide satisfactory evidence that I was, in fact, credentialed with these payors, or I would unass that scene so fast that The Flash would ask, “What the fuck was that, that streaked right past me?” And, he did not have a lot of time to convince me that this was actually so.

An hour later, he not only effusively professed my actual credential-hood, he e mailed me copies of supporting documents, such that my black heart was grudgingly convinced that it was truff! (pronounced “True-ff”)

And that, boys and girls, is one reason that I treat my floor staff, and other co workers, nicely. That, and it is simply good manners.

Fun And Games Off Duty

More Mangled Machine-glish

Occasionally, a post will write itself. I recently received the following “comment”.

vui cung dafabet20 hours ago

Pretty section of content. I simply stumbled upon your weblog and in accession capital
to claim that I acquire in fact loved account your blog posts.
Anyway I will be subscribing to your feeds and even I
success you get entry to constantly quickly.”

Now, I am by no means the smartest guy on the block, nor am I the most literate. I do, generally, do OK for myself in those regards. I have to admit that I cannot tease any meaning out of the word salad that this “comment” is made of. I have, in fact, had more useful conversations with actively psychotic individuals, mid hallucination, than this series of words portends.

Thought experiment: what would the vocabulary equivalent of a random number generator look like? I suspect very much like this.

And, we continually get told that machines will take our jobs.

I doubt it, unless they teach AI to snark, and drink.

Gratitude · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Sometimes You Get to Think That You Have Accomplished Something!

Guardian Angel, Working Overtime

So, TINS©, TIWFDASL©, working a weekend gig in a very, very rural corner of The Un-Named Flyover State. I was a mid-level in, completely out of character for me, a very, very rural hospital’s (VVRH) walk in clinic. I was working with an LPN, a woman of sense, alertness, and industry. Sometimes, Blessings are not obvious.

So, mid morning, she gave me report on Our Next Contestant. Late 20’s fellow, had complained of back pain for a week or two, and he attributed this pain to “I pulled my back, working out doors”. So, this was long about February, and in VVRH’s catchment area, it was mighty freaking cold. Snow, long about hip deep, lined the roadways, and the roads, themselves, had been plowed, and, in keeping with Flyover State Rural Road Commission Operating Procedures, had *NOT* been salted. Since everybody got their water from wells, and most of us thought that salting our water was ill advised, the roads had some sand applied, “upstream” of intersections.

I listened to the vitals, and noted her assessment that “this guy doesn’t look right”. I entered the exam room, introducing myself. He told me that he had started to hurt a couple of weeks prior, the pain in his back, described as “Like something tearing”, had increased with time, despite his employing the ever popular intervention of “ignoring it, hoping it would go away”.

Having concluded on this beautiful sunny 8º F day, that is was *NOT* going to get better, he had WALKED three miles into town, by his estimate, seeking help.

He had muscle spasm in his back, true enough, but something about his story sounded several degrees out plumb. I palpated his belly, and felt something therein pulsing away. He also reported that my pushing on his belly, made his back pain worse. I was not certain what it was, but I was pretty sure that this was way, sway above my pay grade.

I phoned the ED physician, spun my tale of oddness, and he accepted my patient. My nurse wheeled him down the hall to Emergency, and we plodded through the rest of our day.

Nearing the end thereof, the ED physician walked in my door, and told me a story, featuring my long walking friend. He, the physician, had also thought that the examination, along with the back pain, was odd, and so he, the physician, had CT’d my patient. That study revealed a honking big, seriously dilated abdominal aortic aneurysm (a dilation of some part of the aorta, in this case in my patient’s abdomen).

For those in the studio audience who are not medically inclined, the aorta is the single largest, highest pressure, artery in your entire body, running about 2 cm in the area just below your diaphragm, about at the level of your renal (kidney) arteries. Those of us who have studied the US Military’s tactical trauma care course, or have had some sort of “care under fire” training”, will have learned that, should the aorta be penetrated, either by projectile or through a rending of it’s wall, the entire blood volume of an adult male (running around 5 quarts) can empty out in something approaching a minute, plus or minus. One thing that places you at risk of experiencing that, besides the projectile-through-your-aorta thing, is having a large aortic aneurysm abruptly rupture.

Of course, in VVRH, there was no abdomino-thoracic surgery service. My friend the ED doc attempted to arrange a transfer for this fellow, only to be SOL (Surenuff Outa Luck). The roads in our corner of the state were being snowed in, and therefore ground transport to pretty nearly anywhere was not going to happen.

Doc cast his net more widely, and more widely. Adjacent State Big Time Medical Center would accept him, but, alas, we would have to figure out how to beam him up transport him there. Middling Outstate Medical Center could not accept him, since they had no vacant ICU beds, which our new friend would certainly require, assuming he survived (a) the trip, (b) the surgery, and (c) the post op period. Any one of which could end him.

Next Up Upstate Medical Center, alas, similarly had no ICU vacancies, and so, finally the physician negotiated a transfer to Downstate Academic Medical Center, who, miraculously, sent a fixed wing aircraft and critical care transport team to our little single runway county airstrip.

A couple of weeks later, I was working a weekend as was the physician in question. He made a point of strolling over , and relating the above to me, both because it was remarkable that the patient had not only survived the trip, as well as the surgery, and the recovery, into the bargain, but was home, and evidently neurologically intact. The doc knew this, because this fellow had come into ED seeking care for a sprain or some such thing, that he had newly acquired, working outdoors!

Gratitude · Sometimes You Get to Think That You Have Accomplished Something!

The “Wrecks” Story (or) How I Met My Vet

A long, long time ago, TDW-Mark I, our children, our dog and I lived basically right down the block from where I type this today. This particular tale is about the dog. The children had been allowed to name him, thinking that we would spell the name the way that they would, as “R-E-X”. However, TDW-Mark I was possessed of a considerable sense of humor (at one time…) (after all, had she not been married to me for nigh onto 20 years?). SHE determined the spelling, “W-R-E-C-K-S”. This was due to the fact that he resided in a household with adolescent males, who were, themselves, high spirited. Therefore the dog was, himself, well, energetic is a kind way of phrasing it.

So, TINS, one morning we awakened, let the dog out on his chain, and settled in for breakfast. After several hours, we noticed that the dog had not barked to be let back in, his usual practice once he had had enough of The Great Outdoors. We looked to see what was up, discovering that the chain had broken, and the dog was not in evidence.

We searched the neighborhood, finding no trace of the dog. We produced “lost dog” flyers, and mounted them at intervals about our corner of our small town. That produced no results.

After a day or two, TDW-Mark I sent me to the local police department, The County Seat Police Department, and I learned that one of their officers had encountered a dog resembling our missing Wrecks, who had been struck by an automobile, and had been transported to a local vet.

I traveled to the vet’s office, and asked after our dog.

This vet confirmed that he did, indeed, have my dog, and that the dog was surprisingly uninjured after his encounter with the car the previous evening. This was determined after x-rays and examination. I asked him how much I owed him for his care. “Nothing. You don’t owe me anything.”

I persisted. “You spent no small amount of your time, and your expertise, on a dog that you had no idea if he would ever be claimed. I get that you do so out of the goodness of your heart, and as a service to the community. On the other hand, I can pay for the care you lavished on my dog. Indeed, if you insist on thinking of it this way, you can imagine that I am paying for the other critter, that goes unclaimed, such that you are not required to pay out of your pocket, for performing a public service, simply because you can do so, and it needs doing.”

I took a deep breath. “It offends me to think that you are going to be leeched off of by some schlub. I am not going to be that schlub. If for no other reason, please take my money because you ought no be penalized simply because you are a nice guy.”

He told me, “Thank you, but, really, you do not owe me anything. Thanks for the thought, but, we are good!”

I smiled and replied, “So, in that case, here is a check for $150. The next time somebody’s dog gets injured, and they cannot pay you for their care, let me help defray the expense you incur.”

And, he has been my family’s vet ever since, going onto 25 years.

Duty · Gratitude · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important!

GRATITUDE

My mother died last month. She had passed her 100th birthday, and was living in the house she had occupied for something like 40 years. The immediate trigger to her death was liver failure, occasioned, most likely, by an adverse interaction between anesthetics and a century old liver. She had fallen, a couple of days prior, and fractured her hip. The surgery, fortunately, was for this sort of thing, uncomplicated, and she evidently tolerated the surgery side of the affair pretty well.

That is to set up the following deliberation. Gratitude. My mother was able to spend her last months in her house, because my youngest brother pretty much dropped everything, and moved in with her. The woman who has been his family’s housekeeper for something like a generation (from well before The Plaintiff became The Plaintiff, in fact!), also dropped her comfortable daily routine, and became my mother’s de facto practical nurse. Wordy as I am, I am unable to adequately describe my gratitude to my brother, and (let us call er…) Angelica. I thanked them both, even though my brother sloughed it off, “You would have done the same, if you had been able. Hell, you *did* do the same, for Dad.” Angelica simply smiled, sniffled a bit, and turned away.

Mom was able to live pretty independently in the two years prior to that, due to my middle brother, and his wife, let us call her “Donna”. Due to Donna’s efforts, in particular, Mom was able to live in her own apartment, have her dog with her, and, generally, run her own life. Donna made certain Mom got to her doctor appointments, got and took her medications, had her clothing laundered, had food in her frig, and that the dog got walked. All this on top of running her, Donna’s, own household, and helping her husband, my brother, run his business. Thank you.

Prior to that, well, there are, and were, neighbors who looked in on Mom. Then, there is The Car Service Guy. https://wordpress.com/post/musingsofastretcherape.wordpress.com/431 During one power failure (different from The Car Service Guy story), her neighbors physically took her in, where she stayed at their house, warm due to their generator, eating their hot food, and remained until the power was restored. Without these folks, not a one of whom was any sort of kin to my mother, she could not have lived in the house that she loved, for as long as she did, as nearly independently as she did. Thank you. God Bless you.

Police officers in her town, on a couple of occasions, looked in on her at my, and my brother’s request, and reported back that she had been fine. Thank you.

Several of my youngest brother’s friends, living “only” one state over, would drop in on her a couple of times a year, helping make sure that she was getting on alright, and providing an “eyes on” report to my brother. Thank you, as well.

I have to say, the shriveled vestigial organ where my heart may have once resided, is warmed by the good example of these folks. Not for them the bullshit “You voted for Trump! Demon!, or “You voted for Biden! Traitor!”, pejoratives that seem to pass for political discourse. Simply, good people, watching for their neighbors, and living the admonition, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Good people, good examples. Thank you.

Fun And Games Off Duty · Fun With Suits! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

Phone Company Follies

I had moved from Da City, to a more rural corner of the state. I accepted a job there, as a nursing supervisor. Since my medic license was active, I planned to volunteer with the local rescue.

In the course of securing housing, I arranged for utilities: electricity, propane delivery, and phone. Given the very rural nature of this county, and the presence, here and there throughout the state, of party lines, I inquired about same. Indeed, my question to the person taking my phone order was, “Since I am going to be a nurse for the local hospital, as well as a volunteer with the local rescue, having a private line will be very important. Will I have a private line?”

Her reply, verbatim, was “Private line? No problem!”

I subsequently learned that in Bugtussle, or wherever this particular numbnut was, the meaning of the phrase, “no problem!” was altogether different from the meaning I had become accustomed to.

I learned this when my phone rang (and, differential ringing was whole ‘nother mystery, that I did not understand at that point in time!), I picked up the handset, and found somebody-indeed, two different, and stranger to me somebodies, at that!- greeting each other.

I inquired of my colleagues at work, they being wise in the ways of rural living inasmuch as they were, well, already doing it. I learned that there was such a thing as differential ringing, that in my corner of the county there were, indeed, party lines and that it certainly appeared to be the case that I was the proud subscriber to one!

Against my will.

With this insight in mind, I telephoned the local office of the telephone company, and asked about my “private line”. I learned that the plans called for me to get a private line sometime after the year 2000. This, in a conversation taking place in 1989.

I was not (favorably) impressed.

I next called the regional office, and spoke to the Schmoe In Charge Of Taking Calls From Disgruntled Customers. This schmoe informed me that the new millennium could be celebrated, likely, by me placing calls on my new, and private, telephone line.

I reviewed the “Private line? No problem!” statement of the employee, the fact that I did not, in fact, have a private line, and that due to work and volunteer considerations, this was, and would remain, unsatisfactory.

While it was not phrased that way, the resulting communication could be summarized as “Tough luck!”.

I next uncovered, and called, the number for the Midwest Schmoe In Charge Of Taking Calls From Disgruntled Customers. I learned that the the construction plans for this telephone company did NOT include building out private lines in my corner of the state until after 1999, ten years hence. I reviewed my previous conversation with the order taker, and suggested this was inconsistent with what that worthy had stated would be fact.

Again, while it was not phrased in these words, I was told that that would be my tough luck.

So, I called my Un-Named Midwestern Fly Over State Public Utilities Commission, and was connected with the gentleman charged with fielding complaints regarding, among other things, the telephone companies.

He introduced himself. “Nikolai Tesla. What can I do for you?”

I suggested the position was ironic, given his name, and he agreed. I began my plaint. I reviewed the “Private line, no problem!” misdirection, and my unsatisfactory climb up the chain of command, seeking redress from the phone company. I interjected, “You know, it is ironic that I am calling you in the first place. I tend to be small government, minimal regulation, best government is least government sort of guy.”

He paused, then asked, “Do you mind if I savor that irony, for just a minute?”

“By all means, savor away!”

We resumed our conversation, and Mr. Tesla took my contact information, and promised that he would keep me posted on new developments.

I next called my representative in The Un-Named Flyover State, State Legislature. I spoke with a legislative assistant, and reviewed the material, presented above. I told this soul that my desired outcome was that my representative’s office would hound the PSC over my complaint about the phone company, and that I would be invited to any hearing, the next time the shitweasal telephone company wanted any sort of rate increase. The aid promised me that they would make a few calls, and look into things.

I spent the next couple of weeks fighting disease, and saving lives. (Bet you wondered if I was gonna work that in, somehow! Well, wonder no more!) Since I was working 3-11, I tended to rattle around my residence for several hours after work, before going to bed, awakening generally at the crack of noon. So, I was surprised one morning around 0800 to be awakened by the noise of a barely muffled engine, seeming to arise from the end of my driveway.

I dressed, and walked to the street, asking the workmen there what it was that they were doing?

“We’re putting in a private line. You did want a private line, didn’t you?”

“Sure did! Thank you, gentlemen! Carry on!”

I was tempted to ask him if I had overslept, and it was 1999 already?