Q is for Quest

QBecause of our house fire, we had to find a new home. This quest involved six motels, one executive suite and a hell of a lot of travel looking at houses. Unfortunately, it also involved some very questionable business practices along the way.

On my recent voyage, I broke a tooth. It happened because I trusted a dentist to do her job years ago and every single thing she did to my mouth, every filling, veneer and crown, went bad within a few years. I spent over 8K in 4 months in her office. Seriously, I would have sued her if I could. But, the long and short of it is that my tooth swelled up, causing me so much pain that my eardrum perforated and my jaw was infected, because of a missing filling in a back molar. And the one next to it rotted underneath the crown, which apparently wasn’t sealed correctly. When the crown came off, it knocked out the filling next to it. There went $1,500.00.

So, at 4:30 am, I called one of those 1-800-(find a dentist) numbers because I could not sleep. We were staying in Pueblo, CO and they set an emergency appointment 50 miles away in Colorado Springs for 7:30 am. I left at 6:30 and arrived in plenty of time, only to find out at 10 minutes to 8 that the doctor would not be in that day due to a seminar. (There was a note taped to the window). So I get set to drive back, very upset and still in pain. I called to inform “the service” that the dentist was out of town. They were very apologetic, asked me three times if I was in the right building and at the right suite number. “Yep, I’m looking right at it, they are NOT here. No one is, not even the receptionist.”

Then they set another appointment in Pueblo for 9 am. Good. I get back in the car, clutching my face, barely able to breathe over my teeth and drive 50 more miles. I call from the parking lot, to be sure I’m in the right place. That dentist’s office told me the doctor was on vacation this whole week and they had blocked that time off with the 1-800 service. HMMM. I was not even on the schedule, no one was, except those in need of routine cleanings. They too, were very sorry, but could not help me.

So, I call AGAIN. “Well, we’re very sorry, but we do have another dentist back up in the Springs, if you want to turn around and head up there now.”

Another 50 miles? NO. My face was in agony, I needed some relief NOW. So I sought out the nearest Urgent Care. They, in turn, had a 3-hour waiting list and no chairs to sit on. Not one. They were all occupied. And sick children were running everywhere. I almost started to cry. So we went back to the hotel and I put ice on my cheek, figured out how much OTC pain medication would kill me, then backed the dosage off a little bit. It was a rough day.

When I awoke at 7:40 this morning after an extremely fitful night, I had some new e-mails.

1-800-GO-EFF-YOURSELF wanted to know if I had enjoyed my dental experience and would I please rate their service. OH-HO. YEEEESSSSS, my pretty, I will rate your service. But first, I have a few questions for you: When did it become common practice to waste people’s time, blame THEM for your mistakes and generally not give a sh*t when you send them on a 100-mile, 3-hour wild goose chase? How is this good business? Do you expect these dentists to keep using your “referral” service when this is the way you run their patients around?

But, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The dentist in CO Springs just called as I was writing this. They have an opening at 11:45. At least I can get some pain meds and antibiotics for the trip home.

K is for Kleptomania

KHave you ever watched someone steal right in front of you? It’s disturbing, isn’t it? During my lifetime, I have had several people shoplift directly in my view, and worst of all, I couldn’t say anything to the store because they were my ride home. So I just stood there, saying things like, “What are you doing?” whilst they gave lame excuses along the lines of, “Hey, that bag that I just half-emptied into my pocket? Well, the store has to sell that cheaper now. I just SAVED someone else money.”


They didn’t understand. All my life, being raised by business owners, I recalled all the lectures about how stealing raised the price of retail items because the less the store makes, the less they can pay their employees and the more they have to charge customers. But my “ride” never saw the logic in that, and I was forced to make new friends on several occasions.

Which is why I was equally unimpressed when a friend told me about the new shoplifting policy of a major national chain. She worked at a large department store in Iowa at a store that has been the anchor of nearly every mall in America. It starts with a J and ends with a Y. She personally witnessed 4 young men come into the store and shoplift hundreds of dollars’ worth of clothes. But when she tried to stop them, the boss told her “no”. This happened over and over again.

You see, their policy had changed, due to several lawsuits involving shoplifters getting hurt or innocent people being accused, so now Barb just had to stand idly by, call the Loss Prevention officer on the phone and gape in awe when that woman said,

“Well, we can’t do anything because they haven’t stolen $10,000 worth of merchandise yet.”

“Seriously? They can walk out of You-Know-Where with $9,999 worth of stuff and NOTHING will happen to them?” I was incredulous…but not stupid. “Too bad I don’t live there anymore, I’d be right down to clean you out!” She knew I was kidding, but come on!

I thought about my parents, who must be whirling like dervishes in their graves and about my oldest brother, who must be livid over these kinds of panty-waisted laws. I don’t know why or by whom these kinds of laws were passed. Perhaps someone had been tackled on that unforgiving mall floor, dragged inside and accused of shoplifting when, in fact, they were perfectly innocent. Perhaps they sued. But still, this kind of lackadaisical policy is just one of the many reasons why said store is now in real danger of going out of business.

I know I don’t make policy for states or national chains, but I have decided to take a small stand against any form of shoplifting. From now on, I will tell a store manager what’s happening whenever I see a person

E is for Epitome (of Stupidity!!)

EAs you may have noticed, I like to complain – not just when I have been treated poorly by those who pay me to perform a job, but especially when I’m treated badly by those whom I pay to do theirs.

We’ve all had the experience of standing in some government office and wondering what sort of mental illness one must possess to be qualified for that job. But at the DMV, it isn’t mental illness, so much as personality disorder at play. Narcissistic Personality Disorder to be precise. After my latest adventure, I felt obliged to look it up…it’s a real thing.

Setting: In January of this year we had a house fire which destroyed almost all of my belongings, including things I thought were secure, like the title to my car. (Note to self: buy better safe). The insurance company moved us to a motel in our small KS town, then to some furnished apartments outside of town. Outside of the state in fact. Without the title, I could not get my car registered in the new state and my plates from my former state, Colorado, were about to expire, so I called the dealership where I bought it and they sent me a new one. In a little over a week, a company in Colorado managed to track down, obtain and mail a document vital to my recovery from this tragic incident. It was kind of them, I must say.

However, the story skews from there. Armed with the title and all of the documents I can ever recall needing at the DMV, my daughter and I proceeded to the office in Joplin, MO. We waited for half an hour and presented our paperwork at the counter. All I needed was a temporary license plate so I could drive my car for the next 60 days in their state. Then we were going back to Kansas.

I had brought everything: the title, my lease, my driver’s license, my paperwork from the house fire, the car insurance, and several other documents of identity as proof. The girl behind the desk fixed me with an appraising look as I dumped my paperwork on the counter. I began to explain what had happened. She, or course, interrupted me by pulling out a sheet of paper, circling items I would need, including, but not limited to a vehicle inspection and a COURT WAIVER stating I owed no in-state taxes. Then, she none-too-politely informed me I would be better off going back to Kansas to title my car. I informed her that was a 180-mile round trip, to which she gave me a half-smile and called the next number.

Kansas it was.

The next day, I took all of the above, plus my house’s recent utility bill and drove 80 miles to my destination. No one was in line, thankfully, and I approached the desk with something akin to hope burgeoning in my black little heart. Maybe the Missouri girl was right. Yes, this was much better.

“You need a KS driver’s license, first off. Please go to their office and have a seat. Do you know where it is?”

The fifth circle of Hell?

Had I really expected anything else?

After we received directions, off we went to the license office. It’s a quaint little affair, located on the bottom floor of a building painted the exact color of gangrene. They don’t hand out printed numbers from a ticket machine there – they have the letters A-Z handwritten on a hook. Very low tech.

Every seat was full.


After sorting through the stack of papers I’d brought along, cleaning out all the receipts my insurance company insists I keep for the fire from my purse and unsuccessfully rooting around for a Chap-stick for my daughter, it was finally my turn.


I approached the Asian man in training with my wad of papers and he began to cringe. Three sentences in, he put out his hands…”I am just a trainee. I can’t help you, yet. Maybe in a couple of weeks, I’ll know how to do this one.” I almost put my head down on the counter. Then a voice came to my rescue…or so I thought.

“Here, you handle this gentleman, I’ll take her,” he announced brusquely from behind his desk. My heart leapt. A seasoned veteran, returned from lunch to help me out? Somebody call Ripley’s. Quickly, I traded places with a man who had one piece of paper and spoke very little English. The paper didn’t even have his photo on it. Good luck, buddy, I thought, looking down at the stack of ID in my hand: driver’s license, SS card, tax papers, insurance cards, bills, and a letter from the Social Security Administration verifying my birthdate and identity.

How could this go wrong?

I turned to him with a smile…that instantly died on my face. This man was a cop. I mean it, a cop. A flat-topped, thick-necked, brick you-know-what-house of a man who looked like he wore mirrored sunglasses for the state patrol five minutes ago. Crap. But he knew his stuff. As I began again, he quickly interrupted me as well.

“Do you have your birth certificate?” he asked gruffly, giving all of proof a cursory glance.

“No, that was lost in a fire. The only other copy might be with my ex-husband in Colorado.”

Meanwhile, the Latino man standing next to me with one sheet of paper, got to proceed to the “let’s take your photo now” line. Hmmm.

“Well, you’re going to need it. Either that or a passport,” he added, passing me my stack of papers with yet another perched on top. You guessed it, the list with acceptable ID circled in red. “You are, after all, coming from another state.”

Yes, but not another COUNTRY, I was tempted to add. And point. But I didn’t.

“Go find it, then come back,” he barked and announced the next letter in the alphabet. “Oh, and we’ll need an inspection too,” he called out as I was headed towards the door.

Of course you do.