MY DAY IN NUMBERS
8 May 2002
Today was all about numbers.
The first numbers were on the thermometer when I stuck my groggy nose outside to go to
the club. The TV weatherpersons had warned of a "cold snap" today--and I was
psyched enough that the outside air felt damn cold to me. Just. couldn't. do. it. Just
couldn't ride the bike, so I snuggled into the Honda and drove up, feeling like a slug for
The next numbers were on the scale at WeightWatchers. I really didn't expect there to
be another "good" weight loss. And I was right. I've had three pretty good
weeks, especially that 5 lb week, and so the 0.4 loss this week was a disappointment, but
not unexpected. A loss is a loss is a loss and I'll take every tenth of a pound I can get.
Once I got to the office, it seemed that the rest of the day was nothing but numbers.
I had only two simple things to do that didn't involve patients. I had to call the
phone company and I had to mail an envelope.
Sounds simple, doesn't it? Wrong.
First I went for the phone call. The office bank account has been teetering back and
forth between red and black for some time now and we've been just barely covering the
bills, mainly because all the big advertising bills come due at the first of the year. But
Dr. G knew that Good Times were coming and today was the day we had enough to cover all
the bills--all $5,000+ of them. We've wiped the slate clean and will be starting from
scratch again, with all the biggies (the advertising) taken care of for many months to
But the phone bill was a worry. It was quite a large bill (because it was also for the
big display ad in the phone book) and he'd been paying the minimum for a long time. But
somehow last month we were late with the payment and we received one of those lovely
"pay or we'll rip your phone out of the wall" notes. Since I was sending in a
check, not for the minimum, but for the full amount, we weren't really worried, but still
Dr. G wanted me to check and makes sure that the man with the wrecking equipment wouldn't
arrive before the check got to the billing office.
So he asked me to call Pac Bill's customer service (what a misnomer!) line.
I suppose it should come as no surprise to me that the company which plunged this
nation into voice mail hell in the first place should be up to its corporate eyeballs in
voice mail menus. But it's worse than that. The first of countless menus tantalized with
the option of speaking with a service representative. But only after you'd first entered
your phone number so they could shuttle you to the right service rep. (I tried
bypassing the menus by hitting "0" but of course they're onto that trick, and
the canned comment is "I'm sorry, but I don't recognize that response." They're
bound and determined you're going to listen to all their damn messages.) Then you had to
give them your corporate ID number, then you had to let the next menu know if you were
going to pay all or part of the bill, and then you had to tell the next menu what day you
planned to pay the bill and if you were going to mail it in or carry it in. All the while
I hung onto the hope that at the end, finally, after listening to menu after menu,
I would be able to reach a representative. But victory was theirs. After calling three
different "800" numbers and getting back to the same place everytime, I finally
let the damn thing run throgh to its conclusion, and what message did I get? "Due to
an inordinate number of calls, our operators are all busy. Your wait time will be
approximately 15 minutes."
I think not.
I'm convinced there is no real flesh and blood person there. Just that lady that they
have chained up in the basement cranking out voice mail recordings for every business in
So I went and mailed the check anyway, and if they rip the phones out of the wall, it
ain't for my not trying.
It's experiences like this which make my nose twitch, realizing that Hot Donuts are
being fried and glazed just steps from our office door. But I was good. I drank tomato
juice instead. (A very poor substitute, I might add--donuts are to this foodaholic what
Scotch is to an alcoholic.)
Well, that only took about 30 minutes for this simple little phone call. Maybe I'd have
better luck with mailing the documents.
This is for Dr. G's certification at a new hospital and the things are marked in big
letters "TIME SENSITIVE MATERIAL; PLEASE RETURN AS SOON AS POSSIBLE." He had
filled out all the requisite information and all I had to do was put it in an envelope and
The rep who sent it out was very good about putting in her name, her title, and her
street address, but somehow she just kinda forgot the city and the zip code. I could
pretty much figure out the city, but this is a package I'm sending and the Post
Office does not take kindly to things like that which do not have zip codes on them.
They'll deliver them, reluctantly, but I suspect send them by way of outer Mongolia just
to teach you a lesson about the Importance Of Zip Codes.
Well--no prob. I'll just CALL her. She at least included her phone number.
And of course the number got me to a different voice mail hell (but, oddly enough, with
the same voice on the recordings that I'd encountered at the Phone Company, which is why
I'm sure they have that poor woman tied up in a basement somewhere.)
I finally was able to get through to her line, but she wasn't there. Her own voice
recording says that she will be out of the office all week, and there is no option of
leaving an urgent message with an operator (if I could have found an operator, at least
the operator might have known the zip code).
Now, if I were at HOME, it would be no problem. I'd just look it up on the Internet.
But there is no computer in the office, so no handy internet. I would call the post
office, which you used to be able to do in the Good Old Days, but now you just get...voice
mail hell...and you can't even call your local post office, but some central number
in the midwest somewhere. I just wasn't up for that.
So I mailed the package without a zip code. It may mean that Dr. G isn't certified to
practice at this hospital for another month, but by that time I'd been playing the numbers
game for an hour, and I just plain didn't care any more.