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

Customer “service”, and Why I Grind My Teeth.

Conversation with XM customer service:

“I want to cancel my service with you people.”

“You can’t. You have a contract that lasts a year”

“Well, I’m not going to pay you. We agreed you’d bill me at the ‘new customer’ rate for each of the next 12 months, yet this bill is nearly twice that. I will not pay it.”

“If you do not pay us in the next 5 days, we’ll cancel your service.”

“Why don’t you think about what you just said. Can you explain the difference between what you just said, and what I want to happen?”

Fun And Games · Pre Planning Your Scene

Blizzard in Da South.

I did not always work for Da City. Nay, I eventually moved Up North, married, and found myself living in Cincinnati. To my disappointment, once our little family was settled in Cincinnati, I learned that they had, somehow, resolved the Nursing Shortage, raging everywhere else in our fair land.

Shit.

I contacted a travel nursing agency, and sought employment. They accommodated me, finding a placement in another, Southern city. Something like 120 miles distant from our home.

Realizing that “beggars cannot be choosers”, I gave thanks for this job, and settled in for some commuting. Conveniently, the hospital needed a unit nurse, and I had, indeed, worked as a unit nurse. In addition, adding to the convenience, TDW-Mark I worked Monday to Friday 0900 to 1700, and the hospital needed somebody to work weekends. Score!

Therefore, I motored my way to work, and worked my 12 hour night shift. They had a need on 3-11 (or, more precisely, 1500 to 0300) the following day, and I volunteered to work it, if I could avoid working until 0700.

They were agreeable, and, indeed, I could work 1100 to 2300, and go home Sunday night, around 8 hours early. Worked for me!

One weekend, I headed for home immediately ahead of a storm that swept in from the west, chasing me back to Cincinnati. I got home as the flurries materialized. I am from Northern Un-Named Midwestern State, so snow, meh? Nothing I haven’t seen before.

We awakened the following morning, and found ourselves in a low budget winter wonderland. Maybe an inch of accumulation, dusting in the trees. This being not-the-snowy-north, well, let’s just say that the snow management infrastructure was, well, lacking. They closed everything, and the evening news talking heads breathlessly filled us all in on the Horrible! Disaster! That the snow had occasioned. (yawn!)

Being an Amateur Radio Operator (“a HAM”), I listened in to the wide area repeater, taking note of the communications supporting shelters for those who could not stay home (for reasons that I did not understand), as well as other disaster relief communications.

The week passed, and my next fun filled weekend fighting disease and saving lives (betcha were wondering if I was gonna work that one in there, weren’t you?) arrived. I loaded up the truck, packed my meals, kissed the wife and kiddies goodbye, and set off into the wintry wastes.

I took just a little longer than I was accustomed to, since there were stranded tractor trailers scattered here and there on the interstate. Evidently, the snow to my west, and therefore closer to my workplace, had been more serious and more serious than atmy home. Things were not particularly better as I approached Southern City. Monitoring the local repeaters, I heard, four full days later, communications supporting shelters, (still!), as well as other, related, communications.

That malign prognostic indicator was only supported as I exited the expressway, and bunny hopped my full sized truck across nearly frame deep ruts in the frozen snow layered over the roadway.

I had lived in Da City for years on end, and had been impressed with the inattention paid to snow removal. Gotta tell you, Southern City passed them on the fly! On the other hand, the little “no snow removal infrastructure” thing might have played a role.

Fun And Games · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Life in Da City!

Caught in a Snowbank with Marielle.

One schedule Doug rotated onto days, and I found myself working with Marielle. In keeping with usual practice, we rotated driver vs medic duties. One snowy night found us en route to a “heart attack” in the East Side projects. We arrived on the scene, so advised dispatch, and trudged to the indicated door. Things progressed as per usual, and our patient and Marielle seated themselves in the module.

While we were taking care of business inside, the snow had continued to fall. In addition, I had elected to park the ambulance in a snowdrift. Generally, no big thing, either drive our happy ass out of the snow, or rock things a few times, and off we go. As it happened, our truck had settled, snow had fallen in job lots, and, well, rocking that big ass truck was not about to extract us from that snowbank, at least, not tonight. I radioed dispatch to share this fact with them, requesting apparatus meet us with a wrecker. No go, they were at the scene of a multiple alarm fire across town.

Marielle and I discussed this revelation, and tried to brainstorm an escape from our snowy parking spot. I tried to rock us out, several times, and accomplished just about nothing. While I was allowing the tires to cool down, and contemplating my next move, I was startled by a knock on the driver’s window.

The gentleman who had knocked, evidently a resident of the projects, once I rolled the window down, asked me if I was stuck.

I admitted that, indeed, we were stuck. He noted that this might interfere with our transporting this patient to the hospital. (remember her? She was kind of the reason (a) we had jobs, and (b) we had come to find ourselves stuck here.) My new friend admonished me, “Don’t go anywhere!”, and I thought that I had that pretty much covered.

Minutes later I realized why he had so admonished me. This gentleman, and around a half dozen other residents gathered around our ambulance, and everybody picked their own piece of bumper, and commenced to heaving. We moved, briefly, until everything settled again, refusing to move any more.

I tasked Marielle to maneuver the vehicle, and I joined our block club meeting at the rear of the ambulance. Another maybe six or seven souls had exited their nice, warm homes, and joined us in the knee deep snow. At night. And cold as a politician’s heart (should such an organ actually exist!)

As it developed, the bumper was taken, so extra folks tugged on door handles, pushed on their fellows’ backs, and so added perhaps 12 “citizen power” to our efforts at movement.

Slowly, jerkily, gradually, the truck moved closer to the roadway, and eased out of the parking lot. Soon, we were in the middle of the street, and able to move under (the manufacturer supplied) our own power. I effusively thanked the gathering of neighbors, recognizing their irreplaceable efforts, and we set off to the hospital.

Nearly 40 years later, I remember those folks. When I hear smack talk about inner city residents, or residents of public housing, or people-who-don’t-look-like-us, I realize that, perhaps there is less sunscreen sold in those precincts, but Children of God are Children of God. Some are vermin, some are saints, and most simply want to pay their bills, raise their children and love their families, and make it from one day to the next.

Not altogether different from me.

Fun And Games Off Duty

“Damn that George Bush!”

So, one summer, well before The Plaintiff revealed herself to be The Plaintiff, my younger sons were scouts, and summer camp beckoned. Off we went, and since I could swap days, and work weekends, well, I was one of the dads accompanying the boys to camp.

Everybody got up at around the ass crack of dawn, and the boys prepared breakfast, can cleaned up thereafter. Of they went to merit badge classes, or swimming, or other activities, and the adults either tagged along, or lolled around the campsite.

At the end of the day, one designated patrol prepared dinner, and another patrol was cleanup detail. Then the boys were free to run around, or do more scout stuff, before the evening assembly and announcements for the itinerary for the morrow. Then, clean up and off to bed. The adults typically sat up, chatting around the campfire.

Now, this was during the reign of Bush 43, AKA Bush The Younger. Mr. Bush was the recipient of considerable, let us say, “counsel” from the enemedia. Indeed, it appeared that he could do nothing correctly. From the insight that Hurricane Katrina “was Bush’s fault!”, to other revelations of how BushHitler was single-handedly careening the metaphorical American Ship of State onto the Rocks DuJour, well, dude couldn’t catch a break.

So, one evening, one of the scout leaders was reflecting on his previous weekend. “I washed my car. We live out in the country, so you all know it took a lot of washing!”

Murmurs of assent, all around.

“Then, I waxed it. Spent the entire afternoon getting it just right! Gleaming, shiny, clean! Hasn’t looked so good since it left the showroom!”

Again, murmurs of encouragement.

“Then a bird crapped on it!”. He paused, shaking his head. “Damn that George Bush!”

Guy next to him, joined in. “I finally got an afternoon free, and cut my yard. I swept up all the clippings, trimmed along the fence, weeded the garden. Got it looking like something out of House Beautiful! I was so proud!” He, too, paused. “Got up the next morning, and the freaking crabgrass was overgrown! Freaking Bush! That bastard!”

Next guy contemplatively contributed, “My wife guilted me into washing the dishes the other day. I shut up and did it, since she seemed happy I was in the kitchen, cleaning up. I was almost done, when this glass I was washing, broke in my hand, cut the crap out of me, I bled everywhere, and she wound up running me into ER for seven stitches! She cleaned up the broken glass, and all the blood, but, sheesh! That asshole, Bush! What was he thinking?”

Thankfully, NOTHING like that is happening, in current affairs America, Amirite?