Thursday, November 29, 2007

Not invisible yet

This is a continuation of the story I started to tell in the previous post. Start there.

I opened the mail. Bills, bills, bills. The words of the counselor at Consumer Credit Counseling Services ran through my mind. Just pick out the card with the highest interest rate and ask the company to work with you. If they won’t lower the interest rate, ask for a lower monthly payment. You’ll pay more interest in the long run, but you’ll free up cash to take care of your medical expenses. That’s the best we can do for you, Ms. Voirrey, since you’re not late, in arrears, or over limit on your accounts.

I had already run out of cash and had no way to pay for my medication. Lithium is cheap, but it only works on one part of the problem. EMSAM and Lamictal were the most important elements in the mix at that point, but there was just no way. I skipped the Lamictal, stopped taking Ambien for the time being and substituted Alprazolam to help me sleep. At well over $200, EMSAM was out of the question.

I was completely unprepared for how quickly my body responded to this change. I felt like my head had been smashed through a wall of depression and with such force that it had permeated my skull. I was dizzy, sad, foggy, and slow. Very, very slow. It was like trying to focus on a slow-moving object yet being unable to hold onto it for more than a few seconds, except the sensation went on relentlessly. I felt as though I had lost all the ground I had gained in the previous five months, and it slipped away so fast, it seemed surreal.

Work out the money, May, get the medication. I put down the mail, and then pulled out the Diner’s Club bill. What the hell. It was the card I’d had the longest—about 15 years. It seemed like a safe place to start. I called customer service and started into my spiel. The customer service telephone clerk had an attitude. It was a man, African-American, not very friendly, and he appeared to be incapable of actually answering my questions, finding a supervisor, or even comprehending what I was asking. As the conversation continued to go in circles, I could feel my temper rising and my ability to be polite slipping away.

Eventually, I said, “So, what you’re telling me is that it doesn’t matter what I say or do, you not only refuse to help me or work with me, you are going to deny me access to a supervisor or another department where I can speak with someone who has the authority to provide some actual customer service. Is this correct? Yes or no?”

“Ma’am, Ms. Voirrey, I am not going to change your payment.”

“Yeah, I get that. Please transfer me to a supervisor.”

“I can’t do that. Nobody is available to talk to you. I can process your payment now, over the phone.” The arrogance in his tone smacked of condescension and mockery. To this day, I can’t identify what motivated his attitude toward me.

The anger inside of me slammed into the front of my head and came out of my mouth. “Look. I plan to be dead six months from now. I want to get my bills taken care of so I don’t leave a mess for anyone else to sort out. I’m doing the responsible thing. If you will just listen and work with me, your company will actually get paid faster and in full. Do you get it?"

By this time, I was sobbing, and I admit it probably proved detrimental to my credibility. The dickhead on the phone backed off and said, “Whoa, whoa, you’re OK with Diner’s Club. You’re good with us. Are you home alone?”

“Yes, I’m home alone. How the hell is that any of your goddamn business? Are you coming over to pick on me in person? My husband will be home in a couple of minutes. He knows what’s going on.” I took a breath and tried to take back my outburst. “I shouldn’t have said what I did. I’m very, very sorry. I apologize. I didn’t mean to say something bad that has nothing to do with anyone but me. Forget I said that. Please have a supervisor call me about my account.”

My apology sounded insincere, and it was. It came out like the apology a kid makes when forced to do so when there’s no remorse. Yes, a little snide.

I got off the phone and turned on the TV. I went into the kitchen and fixed a small plate of cheese and crackers. Time for Jeopardy! I kick ass at Jeopardy!

1 comment:

Spilling Ink said...

Just wanted to let you know I'm here, May.