Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Vial Wars continue

As long-time readers know, I've been at war for some time now with my allergy serum provider. It's a quiet war, no shots fired (yet), but the sides are clear and the conflict is ongoing.

Each of our goals is simple. I want to continue to pick up my serum at their office seven minutes from my house. They want me to abandon this desire and agree to drive to their location a solid half hour away.

What I really want is for them to go back to what they used to do and simply mail my serum to me. They will not do that, however, for my own protection. After all, as the receptionist at the local office once explained to me, her face set in an earnest and sincere expression, terrorists might intercept my serum.

I wonder what the Homeland Security budget is for screening allergy serum mailings. I sure hope it's adequate.

The allergy clinic obviously holds all the real power. They could simply close the local office, or admit publicly that they do not provide allergy serum vial tests at that location. They're the only local firm that will let me give myself the shots, so they know they have me over a barrel.

They will not, however, abaondon that pretense. As best I can tell, the ability to claim to provide the serum from multiple locations is sufficiently valuable that they're willing to go to great lengths to maintain the facade.

They had already reduced the times when I could go to the local office to a single hour a week, and they'd told me that hour would move around. Fine, said I; I will come when I must.

Last week, they unveiled the latest wrinkle in the plan: As the young woman who left me voicemail explained, the only hour available this week would be Tuesday (today) morning from 8:30 to 9:30. The technician, however, needed the first 15 minutes for setup, and to accommodate paperwork and check-out requirements, he would give the last vial test 20 minutes before he had to go.

So, my window was from 8:45 to 9:10. They'd reduced the hour to 25 minutes.

The message concluded by cheerily telling me that having informed me, they would not call again. I was, though, free to go at any normal business hour to the other location. I had one day to inform them of my intent.

Screw that. I will not surrender. I called back that same day and cheerily announced that I would be at the local location within the 25-minute window. The woman who answered the phone only grunted in response.

And so it was that this morning my alarm rang less than three hours after I crawled into bed. I rolled out and began my countermeasures. I didn't brush my hair. I didn't brush my teeth. I pawed through the dirty clothes, sniffed the gym short options, and chose the smelliest candidate, a fine old pair whose liner was completely rotted in the crotch. I stuffed the dirtiest handkerchief in my pocket. I selected the ripest of the shirts in the basket, added my walking socks and shoes, and drove off.

I arrived at 8:55 sharp.

When I walked through the door, the receptionist's face fell, as if she were a bartender seeing the gunslinger enter her dusty establishment in a Sergio Leone movie.

"Mr. Van Name," she said.

I walked to her window and leaned in, so we could both appreciate my manly stench. "Yes," I said. "I'm ready."

"So is he," she said. "Go on back."

Through that window I could see the technician, a small Asian man, pacing back and forth, his expression grim. He nodded once in my direction and vanished.

I walked to his room, sat in the one chair, rolled up my left sleeve, and with my right hand pointed to the exposed skin.

He showed me the two vials, the printing facing away from me. "You?"

I turned them so I could read them. They were mine; he was an honorable adversary. "Yes."

We spoke no more. We both knew how it worked. He stuck me twice, set the timer, and left. So did I.

In the waiting room, I learned that the Queen Mother's love affairs were available for my reading pleasure. I declined to investigate them. Some things are not for waiting rooms.

At precisely ten minutes, the technician emerged. He glanced at my arm, barely caring what the serum had done to me, and said, "Pass."

As I checked out, the receptionist said, "I suppose we'll see you again."

I only nodded.

Hell, yeah, they will.


sarah said...

I am not a long time reader, so this is new to me. I might suggest however, that you switch your strategy. Kill them with kindness. Bring flowers, donuts, and do not smell.

As you said, they have you over a barrel. Woo them. Figure out why they are resisting and make them an offer that is compelling.

I'm just saying...

Mark said...

I did consider that approach, but after one of them made the terrorist comment with a serious expression and apparently full belief, I just couldn't do it.

Anonymous said...

The hell with them. Good luck and keeping fighting. We know they will win but the fun is in pissing them off.....Chris.....

Mark said...

That definitely is along the lines of my thinking.


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