Archive for the ‘Pet Peeves’ category

Pet Peeve #10: Now I Know Why Everyone Hates HMOs

August 4, 2009

It was 2003, and my husband was starting his new full-time teaching position.  The HR department had sent a huge packet of information to go through about health plans, dental plans, life insurance, and retirement information.  As I perused the dental options, I noticed that the Dental HMO paid out a little bit more for the same cost as the Dental PPO, and there was a participating provider fairly close by.  I was a little unsure because I had always heard people grumble about HMO’s, but it seemed like the smarter way to go.

Fast forward a few years.  We moved to a different township.  Now the dentist office is 30 minutes away instead of 10.  Furthermore, in the few trips we’ve made to the dentist I was a little less than impressed.  Going to the dentist felt like taking a trip back into the sixties..from the waiting room, to the type-writer one of the receptionists was using, to the exam rooms with the dirty linoleum.  The people weren’t rude, but they weren’t particularly friendly, either.  Unlike any office I had been to before, their procedure is to have the hygienist do the entire cleaning and then the dentist comes in for two minutes to look at your x-rays and to check your teeth for cavities.  I don’t think the dentist has said more than two sentences to me in the entire time I’ve been there:  “Hi, I’m Dr. ——.  I don’t see any cavities.”

So, about a year ago I decide to switch to someplace closer to home.  I get a current list of participating providers, and see who’s available.  I call the new office to confirm that they accept our insurance and make sure they are accepting new patients.  They tell me they will gladly take us in once they have certain information from the insurance company.  So I call the insurance company to switch our primary dental provider, and they say they can’t until the new dental office calls them and gives them certain information.  So I call the new dental office back and they say they aren’t calling because they have called our insurance company 15 times and given them the requested information.  Well, come to find out that while the new dental office would happily accept us and our insurance, the insurance company has decided that office already has too many HMO patients and won’t allow it.  So, we’re stuck.

The only other provider anywhere close to us besides Office 1 and Office 2 is just as far away as Office 1.  I figure that I can just suck it up.  After all, it’s only 2 visits a year.  However, it starts becoming increasingly harder to schedule our visits.  We only have one vehicle so we have to work around my husband’s work schedule.  Plus, I need someone there to help me watch the kids while I get my check-up and cleaning.  Come to find out that they will only schedule cleanings on Mondays and Tuesdays, the two days when my husband usually has meetings.   They are closed every other Wednesday and every Thursday.   They also close early on Fridays and they shut down the office whenever the last patient of the day leaves, even if its two hours before their supposed closing time.  This has really become annoying since my husband has needed some major dental work done, and we’re having an impossible time getting it all scheduled.

I think this office is basically in semi-retirement, and we’re stuck at it because of our stupid HMO.  If I could turn back time, I would have picked the PPO.  But all is not lost.  We’ll get through the next few months, and when open enrollment comes up at the end of the year, we are so switching to the PPO and switching to a newer, nicer dental office closer to home.  In the meantime, I’ll just try to be thankful that we have dental insurance at all.

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Pet Peeve #9: Sexist Mechanics

January 19, 2009

Why is it that a large number of men who repair cars believe that every man knows more about cars than any woman?  The condescension and ignorance drive me absolutely crazy.  It’s 2009 for heaven’s sakes!!  Haven’t these guys ever heard of Women’s Lib.?

My first blatant experience of this was when I was in college.  I went to start my car in the parking garage one day, and the engine just started revving out of control even without my foot on the gas pedal.  When I called for a tow, though, I was informed that tow trucks were unable to maneuver in the parking structure and I would have to get my 1983 Chevy Citation down the spiral exit ramp on my own.  I quickly enlisted a group of friends to help me push the car out, and my friend’s boyfriend offered to steer the thing in neutral down the spiral.  Thankfully we were able to stop the car before it rolled into the street.  Even though I had been the one talking with the tow truck operator during the whole thing and it was my car, as soon as the car was out he started addressing all questions and comments to my friend’s boyfriend.

A few years later when my husband and I had to take his car into the same shop (the only one in town that took AAA), I would ask the mechanic a question and he would look at my husband and give him the answer.  My husband knows even less about cars than I do (which isn’t saying much about either of us).  It was rude as well as annoying.

And just to prove that this is not some small town Kentucky issue, there was a shop down the road from where we now live in Illinois that I would take the car to for repairs and maintenance for time to time.  Inevitably, at the end of every visit the manager would say, “Now tell your husband that such and such will need to be fixed soon.”  Never mind, that they had probably only seen my husband in there one in every five or six visits.

Lately, I got a dose of the less blatant condescension when I tried to take our mini-van in to the Honda dealership where we bought it.  I learned the hard way that they have a first come, first serve policy for any type of maintenance or repair.  And I get the impression that they put more emphasis on getting oil changes done rather than major repairs.

The service manager that I drew by bad luck was a man probably in his mid to late 50’s.  The whole time I dealt with him he was impatient and talked  down to me like I was an annoying child because I wouldn’t agree to drop my van off at 8:00 in the morning and leave it all day long.  Never mind that we are a one-vehicle family.  Never mind that we could not borrow another car for a whole day or afford a rental.  Never mind that we have three children in car seats that are safer if the seats are not removed unnecessarily once installed properly.  I’m not even sure that I could re-install the baby’s seat correctly on my own.

After tangling with him, in desperation I went to a different Honda dealership and dealt with a much nicer guy who gave me better advice.  And after talking to the company that manages our extended service plan, I realized that the first guy had been lying to me.  Because I wouldn’t be a good little girl like he wanted, he had misconstrued the details of what needed to be done on the car to try to force me.  Needless to say I will not be returning there for any more automobile work.

I dread whenever car repairs are needed, because besides the money I never know when a mechanic may try to play on my perceived (or real) ignorance just because I am a woman.  I had one place try to get me to replace something really expensive that didn’t need replacing at all.  Now I always try to find places that have at least one woman on staff.  For while that woman may not be a certified mechanic, they tend to know more about cars than I do and they also tend to set a tone of respect for female customers that is sometimes lacking in boys only clubs.

Pet Peeve #8: Girls with Glasses

July 29, 2008

I’m not really hatin’ on girls with glasses. I’m hatin’ that girls with glasses are always portrayed as freaks of nature, especially in teen movies. I love the part in Not Another Teen Movie when they are mocking the scene from She’s All That where they are picking the loser for the guy to make-over into the prom queen. They pass up very mutated girls for the “hideous” girl with long unkempt hair, frumpy clothes, and (ew!!) glasses.

I think it all started with She’s Out of Control when Amy Dolenz’s character breaks onto the high school social scene when she ditches her braces and glasses. That was just about the time that contact lens were becoming more mainstream. For Eliza Doolittle it was her accent. For Jo (also played by Audrey Hepburn) in Funny Face, it was her shyness and her beatnik ways. Now the message is: “If you want to be beautiful and popular you have to ditch the glasses.”

What prompted this latest rant? The answer is a new movie on ABC Family starring Disney starlet Ashley Tisdale. I kind of have a weakness for teen movies, and this one had two actresses from “Degrassi, The Next Generation” which I used to watch when we still had The N in our cable package. Well, Tisdale’s character goes from zero to hero-ine simply by getting a fancy cell phone and ditching her glasses. That’s all it took for the most popular boy in school to notice her.

That got me thinking about the general lack of television and movie characters who regularly wear glasses. And whenever there is a character who wears glasses it’s so they can later be morphed from a nerd into a beauty/hunk. I know this is not a new phenomenon. Even before the invention of contact lens, there were very few four-eyed characters on any screen. The only other reason, besides Pygmalion intentions, for putting a character in glasses is to have their glasses be lost or broken so the character will be blind and prone to comical things. (Even though, most people who wear glasses can still see what’s going on around them, just with less detail.)

Well, as a real woman who wears glasses every waking hour and eschews contacts (my eyes are sensitive enough as it without intentionally sticking something in them), I say enough is enough. True, my first pair of glasses, which I keep for posterity, were something out of a teen movie (really big lenses and blue rims). Since those were replaced, I don’t feel that my glasses have detracted from my appearance. And let’s be honest, once your bust line comes in most guys could care less about your glasses.

Now I know I have never watched “Ugly Betty”, even though I have been a fan of America Ferrera ever since the Disney Channel movie Kick It Up. For the past few years, I’ve been avoiding getting sucked into any new shows, even though I would probably really like that one. But again, the reason she is ugly is partly due to her glasses. (Actually, if you take this picture of Betty and imagine her as really tall, skinny, and pale wearing baggy t-shirts and high-water sweat pants, it would basically look like me in high school.)

Maybe that’s one reason I like Harry Potter. Through seven books and eight movies he never trades in his glasses for contacts or some other magical solution (like wizards LASIK). Everyone at school thinks he’s cool (except for when they worry that he’s the Heir of Slytherin or a pathological liar.) He doesn’t let his glasses interfere with his ability to play quidditch or save the day. I must admit that it probably helps to have those handy spells to repair them if they break and keep them from fogging up, but still. At least there is one hero who is unashamed of his visual impairment. Too bad he’s not a chick.

Pet Peeve #7: Bad Adaptations

July 20, 2008

I just caught the last 20 minutes of a newer adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion on PBS. (I think it might be my second favorite of Austen’s novels after Pride and Prejudice.) And the twenty minutes was enough to inspire my latest Pet Peeve post. Pet Peeve#7: Unnecessary changes in screen adaptations of novels.

I am not one of those irrational Harry Potter people who whines about every subplot and change the screenwriters make trying to condense an 800 page book into a two-hour movie. Although, I am glad that they realized that they should break down Deathly Hallows into two movies. However, I really get annoyed when books are ruined unnecessarily.

Persuasion Spoiler Alert:

In this particular instance, they have Eleanor Anne running all over town chasing after Captain Wentworth who apparently has super-natural powers to evade her. Even though she follows him out the door of her home two minutes after he leaves, he somehow makes it back to his housing, writes her a letter professing his love for her, commissions a friend to take it to her, goes for a walk with his sister and brother-in-law, and starts working his way back to her house about a million steps a head of her. Would it have been so terrible to follow the book? I think I’ll stick with the older version starring Ciaran Hinds.

I remember being annoyed the same way with the ending of Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightly. Elizabeth and Darcy both go wandering around in the fields barely dressed at sunrise. I understand that the filmmakers wanted to put their own hand print on the old story, but that change was just unnecessary. There is a reason that Miss Austen’s novels are so revered; they are perfect as they are. (Why is that last phrase ringing a bell? Ah, yes, Colin Firth, I mean Mr. Darcy, says the same thing to Bridget Jones.)

While Austen’s works seem destined to be the most butchered on screen, I wonder about other adaptations at times. The one that currently comes to mind is Lost World by Michael Crichton. I thought this sequel to the brilliant book Jurassic Park was pretty good, if a bit intellectually fluffy. But any resemblance between the book and the movie version was strictly coincidental. The only reason they are slightly forgiven is for letting me see Jeff Goldblum as Ian Malcolm again. Jurassic Park III was slightly closer to the second book but not really. Now that I think about it the first book adaptation had some unnecessary changes, too, like reversing the ages and talents of the children. In the book the little girl is so annoying that as my dad says, “You almost hope she gets eaten by a dinosaur.”

So, my plea to screenwriters and directors, “Please respect your audience. Depend on the strength of the story to make your movie strong. And don’t change things unnecessarily.” Yes, I understand that Neville had to give Harry the gilly-weed instead of Dobby, but why in the world did the maze have to be turned into Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors?

Pet Peeve #6: Too Much Bass

June 10, 2008

I don’t care if they are ill-tempered.

Seriously, I can not stand too much bass.  I was running errands the other day, and the car behind me had the bass volume up so loud that I could feel my insides vibrating.  In those few moments at the traffic light, my ears actually felt like they were starting to ache.  I find that so completely annoying.

I know that I have kind of sensitive ears.  I’m always asking for the television, computer, and radio to be turned down.  I am always super-sensitive to the bass line.  If the television is too loud downstairs at night, the bass-line sometimes wakes me up.  I also get easily over-whelmed by too much sound, like someone talking to me in a room while someone is talking to me on the phone.  My brain just shuts down.

I don’t understand how anyone can really enjoy their music with it that loud, though.  I love the bass line in music.  Most of my favorite musical artists are known for their intricate bass lines (Sting, Paul McCartney, Fleetwood Mac’s under-appreciated John McVie).  But the beauty of a good bass line is it’s intricacy and its subtlety.  Boom, boom, boom with lots of static-filled reverb is not subtle.

And it’s not just because I’m older.  It used to drive me crazy in high school, too.  All these idiots would spend hundreds of dollars to buy huge bass speakers for their piece of crap car and turn the volume so loud that you couldn’t even figure out which song they were playing.  Maybe I’ve just always been an old fuddy-duddy.

I’m just saying making something louder doesn’t always make it better, especially the bass.  So…TURN IT DOWN PLEASE!!!!

Pet Peeve #5: Political Telemarketing

May 20, 2008

Ok, I really hate all telemarketing. I can’t decide if I hate automated telemarketing more than live telemarketing or not. Businesses think so little of me that they are content to pester me with a pre-recorded message, but at least there is less guilt and awkwardness associated with hanging up on a machine. I figure that anyone who has a telemarketing job must be really desperate, so I try to be really polite about disengaging myself. Occasionally, though, you get that telemarketer who takes his job way too seriously, and I feel like channeling Catherine Keener in The 40-Year-Old Virgin.

Anyways, the origin of this rant is that in the past 48 hours we have received five political telemarketing calls. Three were from Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Two were automated and one was a live person. The live one actually said Clinton, Hillary on our caller ID, and my husband had great fun telling the person that he planned to vote for Obama. The other two calls were automated messages from Obama’s campaign, one recorded by Obama himself. It’s tempting to preserve my answering machine for posterity between Obama’s recording and having Hillary on my caller ID.

Here is the truly annoying part, though. All of these calls were for the Kentucky primary being held today. We haven’t lived in Kentucky for almost five years!!!! There are only like four area codes in Kentucky, so it should be obvious to the most lowly election volunteer that ours is not one of them. Yet we received five calls to vote in a primary we aren’t even eligible for. Do you think they need to update their information? I’ll put it this way. My mother received a political call yesterday for my grandmother…who died two months ago.

Update: Make that six; I got one more automated from Hillary.

Update:  Seven.  Recorded message from Michelle Obama.

Pet Peeve #4: Yes, I Know I Don’t Even Look Pregnant

April 15, 2008

I never want to be pregnant again.  Because if I hear one more person comment, “If you hadn’t told me, I would have never realized you were pregnant” I am going to scream.  Believe me, I am pregnant.  I have gone up two underwear sizes.  Even my maternity clothes are starting to not fit me.  I haven’t hardly slept in a month because I can’t get comfortable in the bed for more than 15 minutes before my ribs and upper back start aching.  There is a person in my belly that likes to stretch her legs at least ten times a day.  I am 36-weeks freakin’ pregnant.

I know, I know, I should be thankful that I have never been one of those poor women that looks and feels like she is having triplets at 20 weeks.  I should be thankful that I was blessed to be designed tall and thin.  I should be thankful that since I tend to be “all-baby” I will probably regain my pre-pregnancy figure pretty quickly.  (Not that I am sure I want it.  I really could stand to keep at least 15 of the 25 pounds I’ve gained.  I tend to drop it pretty fast, though, between the high octane breast milk my body produces and how I forget to eat when I get busy.)

It’s just very frustrating.  I think it has been worse with this pregnancy because this is my first time being big during the winter and spring.  All of the sweatshirts and coats necessary to keep from freezing in the icy Chicago wind tend to hide my volleyball-shaped front.  With the first two pregnancies, I was wearing tank tops in the hot summer sun in which my big belly was more obvious.

I know, I’m just being cranky.  Maybe it’s because I’m very PREGNANT!!  Or maybe it’s because my two-year-old decided she was ready to wake up at at 6:30 this morning, as if I’m not sleep-deprived enough.  I swear, I am betting that I will get more sleep after this baby comes than I am getting now.  For one thing, most of the bodily discomfort will be gone.  Also, I will have a few days with grandparents here to help take care of the other munchkins so I can rest with the new one.   Maybe in an hour or so I can coax the toddler into taking a nap with me.