Sunday, September 27, 2009

Parental Hidden Talents

My father exemplifies the adjective "formidable." My brother, familiar with our father's place of employment, reported that he is "respected and feared" there. In one of our few moments of mutual harmony and agreement, my brother and I both asserted that if we were ever unfortunate enough to be caught by the police and forced to either spend a night in jail or call our father to bail us out, we would enthusiastically choose the former option.

Of course, this isn't a complete picture of him by any stretch of the imagination. He is also incredibly generous, sensitive, and comical. What I didn't know about him until recently is that he is completely unintimidated by, and even able to relate to, teenagers.

Last weekend, my mother was involved in an event in our hometown, working for a nonprofit organization that needed to raise money for its activities. I agreed to spend some of the weekend at home to help out, and later in the afternoon, my father appeared at the festivities. My mother was in a state of exasperation--there was a competition due to commence at 5:30 pm, and the implements for the race had not been assembled. My father agreed to stay around and find a solution to this problem. A table was set up, and at first, a group of adults, my father and I included, attempted to rectify the situation. Then, a group of middle school students came by to help.

Most teachers will agree that middle school is the most difficult age to teach in class. The sight of a pack of preteens brought about the retreat of some of the adults, whether moving off to some other activity or engaging in conversation with each other. To my great surprise, my father arranged the students in two lines and showed them how to quickly get the work done, instructing and encouraging them along the way. He was familiar; he was unintimidated. He was the one of the only adults among at least half a dozen that engaged these kids and stuck with the project, only a few others excepted.

Who would have thought?

Friday, September 11, 2009

My Pills, My Problem

One of the little momentary annoyances of life occurs in the pharmacy. Whether you're on a regular medication or you have to pick up a prescription to treat something localized and temporary, in order to acquire the small bottle of essential pills, you have to go through the inevitable song and dance at the counter.

I've rarely been thrilled with the service offered at my local drug store. With a few, but certainly notable, exceptions, most of the staff during the day is lacking in professionalism to say the least. On one occasion, I desperately needed a prescription for a steroid filled quickly because of sudden, unexplained swelling n my throat. In the interests of time, the doctor I saw for the problem immediately faxed the request to the pharmacy. When I got there, they hadn't seen the request at all, and after I explained it had been faxed over to them, one of the employees went over to the machine and picked up what had to have been a stack of ten similar prescription requests, none of which had been looked at, let alone filled.

Earlier in the week, I returned home from work with a message on my phone from the doctor's office. Apparently this time, the pharmacy had done it's part--they had called the office to get authorization to start a new round of refills on a regular prescription.

The young lady in the office called me to ask me what the prescription was.


She didn't recognize the name, and she had somehow consulted a reference book on the matter, which didn't list or identify the prescription. She was in an office full of doctors she could have asked, I presume she had access to the Internet and its wealth of databases on the topic, and the number for the pharmacy was clearly listed on the fax. Instead of any or all of these avenues of authority, she instead chose to call me up during business hours at my home number to ask me.

The next day, I called the office, and a completely different person answered the phone. I explained the message, answered the question, and asked her why I had been called about the issue given how many other options were available to answer the caller's question.

"Well it is YOUR prescription."

Yes, point taken. But come on.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Fatal Accident Caused By....?

I have come to the conclusion that there is one thing far more distracting, and therefore, far more dangerous, than text messaging while driving.

It's the mosquito in the car.

I'm sure it surprises no one who has at least seen the moth photograph that I live in a slightly remote area in northern New England (where else would one find a moth with a twelve-inch wingspan who could easily audition for the next X-Man movie?). A combination of mild temperatures and lots of rain resulted in a spike in the creepy wildlife category out here this year. For example, one night upon taking out the trash, I noticed that there were at least five frogs on my car.

Nothing beats the mosquitoes. Absolutely nothing. I haven't been able to walk across my lawn once without dousing myself in a hefty dose of Deep Woods Off. While this is inconvenient, reentering the house generally disperses the cloud of noisy bloodsuckers, and those that are unfortunate enough to make it indoors are quickly hunted down and consumed by the cats.

The car is another issue entirely. It's trapped; you're trapped and belted to the seat. At first, it bounces along the dashboard, on and off the windshield attempting escape through the glass. Then, it may drift over to the window where you make a desperate dash to open it to let it out. When that's not successful, you lose sight of it somewhere, and patches all over your skin start to tingle and crawl. Wherever you think you've been bitten, you've only managed to whack unadulterated skin, but when you get out of the car, you notice at least two or three welts where you least expect them to be. And, if you're unlucky enough, it will be waiting for you in there, probably eager for another meal, when you get back inside the car to drive home again.

All the while you're engaged in a battle of wits with an insect no larger than a fingernail shard, you drift around the road, cross the yellow lines a few times, and tailgate that guy in front of you to near a rear-end job.

I wonder how many accidents may have been caused by the simple mosquito in the car. I am certain, however, that there are no statistics to report on this phenomenon.