It’s the Little Things

There’s definitely a retirement brain mode. I used to laugh at my folks when they could only handle one thing a day like a doctors appointment or a car repair. But now I find myself in a similar boat; trying to schedule several non-routine events in one day spells epic fail. The retirement mindset is a gentle ripple compared to the tsunami of working life. How did we tackle such monumental hurdles every single day? When now a lunch date is all we can manage?

Of course there’s times when you have to juggle a few balls because things keep rolling along even if you are practically standing still. Even though my sister is totally handling my parents needs (while she holds down a very busy full time job!) there are a few things that I can help with from afar. Funny how one little thing turns into a part time job that sucks. Here’s the scenario:

My dad has been unable to enjoy reading for some time due to cataracts. He had one eye done a couple of years ago by a crochety doctor who treats patients with disdain (that nasty bedside manner filters down to his staff who are also rude and abrupt). Then comes covid and any hope of the second eye being done vanish in a puff of plandemic smoke. My dad complains (quietly but consistently) about getting dizzy because his vision is lopsided. I take him to the regular eye doctor and we inquire about options. It seems that the CCP flu only affects public hospitals and that private (fee payer) clinics are moving right along as usual. So I get a list of names and my sister follows up. Dad gets an appointment to see a doctor a few weeks later and surgery is scheduled shortly thereafter. A big difference from the 18 month wait and endless recalls with the public system that’s “free” and which my dad still has “floaters” from the first procedure. Anyway, that’s another story.

So dad gets the surgery and all systems are go. He can now read again! This new found super power means he needs reading material; a good time to get the local paper delivery again. My sister asks me to make the arrangements. No problem ; it’s the least I can do. I fire up my laptop (which has developed cobwebs) and search for Stratford Beacon Herald subscriptions on Duck Duck Go (I’ve also ditched Google along with Facebook, but that’s another story). There’s a super easy user friendly portal to “subscribe now!” I complete the online forms and submit using my Amex card to pay for 6 months. I get the email confirmation and let my folks and sister know. My “one thing if the day” was pretty simple. Mission accomplished.

After getting the newspaper for a couple of days, instead of the paper my parents get an invoice. For seniors who don’t control their money much anymore, getting a notice to pay is like a punch in the gut. On top of the invoice they also got phone calls. Another slap. They report to my sister and my sister let’s me know. What’s going on? I go back on line only to discover that the ease to sign up and pay is not mirrored if you have a problem. Now the process is tricky and complicated. I finally find a contact us mechanism and I type out my concerns. I call the number listed and leave my number. Then I wait.

I get a call from an Ottawa area code a day or two later (funny how these calls never come at your convenience but at theirs) Finally, someone to get somewhere. I explain the situation. Oh, she says, I see it here … we don’t accept Amex as a method of payment. Now my usual auto response kicks in: anger. This unsuspecting phone agent is going to get a blast. First of all, how is it remotely possible that I got an email confirmation telling me all was good (and papers started to arrive as proof) and that rather than respond via email they choose to harass by invoice and then phone? I demand that my parents be taken off the call list immediately and that my information be inserted as the billing contact. I use another credit card to pay (again) and I am assured that the matter is settled and taken care of. I spent 30 minutes on the phone to get this done; between ranting and “can I put you on a quick hold” and the automated credit card system not working …. ugh.

I report to my sister who empathizes but doesn’t have time to listen to my one thing of the day complaints. The paper should start to flow again. But it does not. I’m back to square one.

This time I check my credit card statement on line to see if the payment was processed. It was. I go through the labyrinth of contact us with no luck. I call the Ottawa area code number again. It rings. I have a person after waiting in the queue. Sorry she tells me, we don’t handle the Stratford paper distribution here, you have to call Stratford. So I do. There’s a company directory option but I don’t know who to call. The option for distribution is a robot message with no further actions possible. So I called the number most likely to answer the phone: sales. Bingo. I get a young lady on the phone who provides me with a name and number for distribution. Sorry she can’t transfer me as they are working from home. Fine. I call the new contact. Voice mail. A while later (again not at my convenience) I hear from Barb in distribution.

She can’t find our records. What’s the address again? What’s the name? Who’s name is on the account? What phone number is associated with the account? Are you sure you have a subscription? At this point I’m losing my marbles. Has retirement brain caused me to hallucinate and make the whole Ottawa call up?? Just as I’m about to explode she says: oh, here you are. They put you in as an apt number and all the others in the building are units. That’s the issue. WTF???

Great! I say. Can we fix the problem? Yes. She assures me that she will contact the carrier (she’s a new girl… just young.. but very reliable as her mother drives her everyday … Really?? I don’t care!!). Whew. Another 40 minutes but hopefully this is the cure.

The paper is put at the door of each unit/apt in the building who subscribe. I’ve seen it many times when visiting. Mom just opens the door and the papers there. However I’ve also seen it in the front lobby on the coffee table; a nice pile of papers like you might find in a hotel for guests. I think nothing of it until my sister lets me know (again) that the paper was absent.

I immediately call Barb. Voicemail. While I’m waiting in the lobby of the osteopathic clinic my phone rings. It’s Barb. Very inconvenient to say the least. She now explains to me that the carrier (sweet young girl with the helicopter mom) is not allowed in the building (building rules) so she leaves the bundle with unit/apt clearly marked on the front of each in the foyer. Someone from the building (there are several possible busy bodies that could be the suspect) takes the papers and either delivers them to the front door of the unit/apt or leaves them in a pile on the lobby coffee table. Oh. Good to know.

I let my parents know. If the paper is not at your doorstep then you have to go to the lobby. My mother then confesses to taking someone’s from their door since she’s entitled. Oops. Basically, from where I am, there is no way for me to manage this except to hold my breath and ask everyday during my daily call. Of course there’s no way to confirm their answers.

All this for a mediocre flimsy newspaper. No. Scratch that. All this because my dad can read. Worth all the agony. It’s the little things.

Note: I can’t wait to get back to Stratford when the travelling incarceration debacle ends and personally visit the Beacon office (if it’s open) and declare my displeasure. Hopefully without a mask on so they can see my facial expressions. but. Alas. I think I’m hallucinating again …. thank god for cheap wine.

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