Whitesburg KY

Defining security



Samantha was the name of the woman who finally put me over the edge.

I could deal with the two and a half hours it took my friend to have her MRI, just to make sure the fact that her wrists won’t move doesn’t mean the breast cancer has spread to her bone. I warned her it wouldn’t be nearly as quick and easy as she thought based on her prior experience with PET scans and CT scans. I had an MRI myself a few days ago. Not only did the procedure, all told, take two hours, but ever since, I have been working almost full-time just following up.

And I was all right with the traffic in Los Angeles being so bad on every cross street, and with all the people beeping their horns and cutting in front so that I almost missed my much anticipated appointment with the breast surgeon, who told me everything was probably fine, but just to be sure, I should have another mammogram and sonogram by the same folks who did the MRI. Then they can compare results.

Two mammograms and sonograms in one year, not to mention an MRI? I can see the fight with the insurance company coming. But what the heck? I’m one of the lucky ones. I fight for a living and make a good enough one to be able to afford to pay the bill when I lose.

No, it was when I got home and found out that the UPS Store helpline run by UPS was taking the position that UPS wasn’t responsible for delivering my nephew’s long-awaited birthday present (a Wii, which I schlepped across town to buy from a seller on Craigslist, then schlepped to a UPS Store to send) to the wrong address, because the UPS Store had put the wrong address down, and UPS isn’t responsible for the mistakes of the UPS Store.

“Come again?” I said, with all the calm of a woman who has spent the day getting ready for more tests and more fights with insurance companies, not to mention seeing my close friend struggle with the side effects of the medicine she takes to stay alive. “You’re telling me the UPS Store, called the UPS Store, found on the UPS website, with a helpline run by UPS, has nothing to do with UPS? That the insurance I took out with UPS doesn’t apply because UPS delivered to the correct wrong address they were given by the UPS Store, entered by the UPS Store clerk, who apparently couldn’t read my handwriting (that earned me straight A’s in penmanship at the Hadley School in Swampscott) and got both the street number and the phone number wrong?”

She thought I was dim, so she explained it again. I thought her advertising was totally deceptive, to the point that even a smart, attentive lawyer wouldn’t know there was a difference between UPS and the UPS Store. You might as well go to the corner Smith Packing Store as to the UPS Store, for all the protection it got you from UPS.

I’m not sure who hung up on whom, but it was not pleasant.

It shouldn’t be this hard. And I’m lucky. I know it. Most people can’t afford the extra test and don’t know how to fight and win. Most people don’t have columns to complain in and extra cash if they need it to replace the Wii for the heartbroken kid.

It took me an hour or two, and a walk and a talk and a break trying on sale items at the secondhand store, before I finally figured some of it out.

Once upon a time, I believed that growing up brought security, that if you worked hard, did well and took the tests you were supposed to, that if you didn’t smoke and bought insurance for everything, you could count on having some security. But everywhere I look, it ain’t so.

My friends are getting sick and finding themselves out of work, short of cash and strapped with bills. And they’re not in their 60s and 70s. They’re in their 40s and 50s. Job security means a couple of years. Personal security means a home alarm system. Staying well means finding out what’s wrong with you before it kills you, not when it’s about to. National security means only 3,000 kids and a few hundred billion down the drain. And the UPS Store doesn’t mean anyone from UPS will help you.

©2007 Creators Syndicate Inc.

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