Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Monday, November 16, 2009
I have a story of one person to tell. However, I am sure I am not alone on this. United Healthcare is nearly three months past due in paying me my COBRA rebate. I have favor to ask, I want you to call Gary (502-XXX-XXXX) in the customer service department and leave a message on his voicemail telling him to "Pay Dave."
As you may know, in March, President Obama and company gave a stimulus payment to United Healthcare and others to reduce COBRA payments by 60%. In my case, this resulted in about $200 of a $300 a month payment. In what was probably not the best idea, the government paid UHC and trusted them to pay their customers. I was advised by a Customer Care Rep to pay my full amount on the chance of being dumped for non-payment while the kinks in the program got worked out. I dutifully paid my COBRA until August when I was allowed to get on my new wife's (Congratulations! Thank you!) healthcare. I can't get health care anywhere else because of a pre-existing condition.
UHC owes me $1175 in stimulus money. I filled out all of their paperwork, it was approved (Sept 14th) and I was told to wait 10-15 working days to receive my check. At writing, I have been unemployed for 11 months. This cash would really help.
You can probably guess what happened next. The check never came. Week in and week out I have been told that the check would be processed "this week." After two months of being told to be patient, I was upped to my own personal customer care rep to resolve this matter.
This is when I was assigned to Gary. Gary, in your defense, you have given good customer care. "Great" customer care would have entailed me getting my check. You gave me a direct line to contact you. You have been sympathetic to my plight. You gave me your personal guarantee that this check would be in my hands by today November 16th, 2009. If it wasn't you would have overnighted it to me directly. You sound like a helluva guy. You probably kiss your wife and go to work everyday just trying to get home. You host backyard BBQ's on Saturday and Sunday for football in Kentucky. You probably have great plans for Thanksgiving. But, Gary your company sucks. When you told me today that there has been a delay due to a vague internal company problem, you were patient as I lost my shit on you. It was probably a low blow to remind me that you gave me your personal guarantee that I would receive my refund. You have made a few mistakes.
A) You used the unfortunate wording "Based on the information I had at the time, I thought the money would come." Does that sound familiar to anyone else?
B) You would not let me escalate this to your supervisor. In effect, the buck stops with you.
Gary, let's face it. Your company is looking for any reason to delay payment. In effect, UHC is keeping the government stimulus money as long as they can. Most of it is in a bank somewhere making interest. They will wait until the last possible moment to pay.
I really don't know how to resolve this payment issue. Small claims court could take years. I could call the ACLU or Rep. Waxman's office but what would this really achieve? Waxman's office doesn't even know that it is impossible to get anyone on the phone at the EDD.
So everyone, do what I have been doing. Just call Gary.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Six months earlier I had decided to explore the diamond market. SHE had been a little PMSy, drinking wine in the afternoon, knitting and watching “Titanic.” I can’t remember how the subject was broached but it we usually have an argument around the time when Kate lets Leo drown. Somehow I had said something or said something similar to the word “wedding” or “marriage.” Breading? Carriage? I dunno, but the response was definite:
“Yeah, so what’s the fucking holdup?”
Oh, SHE felt strongly about this. Well, I wasn’t about to cave to a blind demand but figured I should at least find out how much a ring would put me in the hole. My mom was coming into town on her way to Palm Springs to play golf with old ladies and young gay men. So why not ask a women who had experience in such matters?
Besides Mom’s dig this kinda shit.
I did a little half-assed research. Talked to some married buddies over at the Cat and the Fiddle during a Sunday afternoon over a beer or four. My friends and I don’t talk money much so I would have to be crafty. Also, I didn’t want to seem too obvious about my intentions so I would slip the question between inappropriate, lusty comments about the waitresses.
Check out those Hefewiezens! How much did you pay for your engagement ring?
Full on nipplage at 3:00.Is that more than a carat?
And the all important:
Does the two month salary rule really apply?
Unanimously, the two month salary rule DID apply, plus some. Each of them had paid between $4k and $9k for their rings. My next questions, “Where did you buy it?” The answers were what I expected DeBeers, Robbins Brothers and some mall shop I can’t remember.
I thought of HER, first thing after the day of our wedding. We are still both drunk on the whirlwind of the day before. Stumbling smiles, we make some in-a-bag coffee in the room while wearing those ultra comfy white hotel robes. Rose petals, a wedding dress and a Men's Wearhouse cumberbun are tossed about on the floor. She looks down at her two rings as her new bride tender smile turns into a scowl. “FUCK! I have to pay off half of this now!”
I wasn’t about to have my marriage start off like that. I took my Mom to the wholesale jewelry district downtown.
The Wholesale Jewelry district hasn’t changed a bit since the days of Chandler and Spillaine. It also hasn’t been given a good cleaning since then. If you could shovel out the homeless and the junkies, I’m sure you could still find a Private Dick’s office with 60 years of filing to get through. Odd, because in this four block stretch are millions of dollars of jewels. All you would need is a good sized hammer and a decent exit strategy and you could rip that place off blind.
Similar to Egyptian markets you feel as if life is cheap no matter where you turn, which should be kept in mind when planning an exit strategy. You also get the idea that everything was negotiable. Rock hucksters in rented booths stare back at you, attempting to hypnotize you with their bling.
The first guy we meet is Jerry and he shows me his card which on the back matches the clarity and grade of the diamond. After a while I can spot the differences, yellow diamond bad, clear diamond good. I had also learned in a "
He showed me a few, some of which looked like crap an Armenian Great Grandmother wouldn’t even wear. Then suddenly there it was. .97 Princess cut G grade clarity (which I couldn’t tell from an E or F) placed in a classic white gold band. It looked exactly like the ring on the Luxury Tax space of the Monopoly board. I held it in my hand, didn’t know her size but that was the one I wanted. The rock was about the same size my friends had bought.
I must have tipped my hand. Perhaps my normal chitchatery subsided. My eyes may have glazed over or tear spit out of a duct or something. In a husky indeterminate middle eastern accent he said to me “You see the fire, don’t you?” Yes, I had seen the fire. It was as if a gypsy had placed three wishes on into that ring. Deep inside the ring there was something invisible that only I could see.
The ring retailed for $3600 and was going wholesale for $1300. $100 a month on layaway. No interest. Did I want to wait a year? Another "What is the fucking holdup" year?
Was I really going to buy the first ring I saw? Nada way, so we made our way off to a dizzying amount of vendors. In guy language that means about four. My mother sat their cooing at all the different cuts and shapes. I didn’t see the one with “the fire.” I couldn’t believe that the first ring I saw was the one that I wanted. They were all pretty, but where was the gypsy magic of Jerry's ring?
Here’s the problem. I had done a lot of freelance work the previous year and currently owed Uncle Sam $1700 due in September, none of which I had squirreled away yet. We went back to Jerry and I saw it again. No further deciding needed to be made. Jerry's gypsy magic ring was it.
When she saw how excited I was, Mom teared up a bit. She had one hand placed firmly on her purse in case I asked her for a loan. But I couldn’t take it. I couldn’t let Mom even think about picking up the bill. This was my ring, my decision and the start of my family.
So the ring could wait until next year. This was gonna take some time. I wasn’t ready yet, so I have a few months to figure this all out.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
This sort of mistreatment of animals is usually reserved for dogs in Beverly Hills around Halloween. Good for them!
I now present some pictures from the Alpaca/Llama costume contest at the Houston Rodeo. NSFPeta.
Now, a note about this one. IT IS A MAGICAL UNICORN made by an 8 year old girl. I don't want to see any comments about... let's say... what it may REALLY look like. She tried her best to bring some magic into your life. You are welcome!
Oh and there is a whole bunch of new stuff up on http://www.crackpotpress.com/
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Friday, January 30, 2009
Went to the library and read this article from Fortune “Like Your Job? Keep it!” The article explains how to save your own hide in case layoffs are coming. Now regardless that I did most of the things in this article, I still lost my gig.
Let’s review with my real world experience:
DO take credit... but don't "walk around with a big neon sign that says I'M GREAT,” I did this. However, the tattooed in a promising local band jackass from the design department who boasted about his work while lambasting others still works there. Perhaps the shrill of the squeakiest wheel caught the ear of the boss.
DO volunteer for more work.
WRONG! I took on many more responsibilities without being compensated. All of those “not my jobbers” still work there. If you take on additional responsibilities for free, you are being a sucker and will soon become undervalued. And then you will:
DO arrive early and stay late.
No, because I volunteered for more work I had to come in early and stay late. This made my boss believe I couldn’t handle to workload.
DON'T be eccentric.
BUT of you are in a workplace that is ALREADY eccentric the square still looks like a square.
DON'T be high maintenance.
The art department divas were EXTREMELY high maintenance, blaming blown deadlines on “I’m artist… I need to create… I’m going on a burrito run.” Divas: 1 Dave 0.
Then I began to think. How can FORTUNE, one of the kingpins of business journals be so far flung off their rocker wrong? Companies profits zoom if included in the Fortune 500. Fortune's "Best Companies To Work For" get pummeled with resumes. This isn't the TMZ of finance, this is the gold standard.
At this point I had a great epiphany: I was just at a fucked up company.
Perhaps my boss is the grand nincompoop that I always suspected he was? Maybe it was one of the situations where “It’s not you, it’s me” really does apply? I'm not one to bash the hand that used to feed me and let me go a week before Xmas with no severance. I do however, have a talent for the truth.
After all, as this article shows, there are exceptions to every rule. SO I am off to fill out some job applications at THESE PLACES!