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Posted on December 3rd, 2019

The Soft Core of the Earth – Jury Duty, Doctor’s Appointments, and Other People’s Schedules

Some how I’ve avoided jury duty my whole life. I’ve moved around a lot, so that might have something to do with it – the powers-that-be simply can’t find me (which makes me wonder if I have any warrants for “failure to appear” floating around out there…). Well, now that I’ve been in one place for a little bit, I’m a known commodity and the government finally tracked me down. I’m actually not opposed to serving, though it rarely is ever convenient. It is also quite ambiguous. You get a letter and are told the day you are to serve, and that it won’t last longer than a week (5 days). You’re supposed to call the night before to see if you’re number has been called, and if it has, then you’re expected to show up the next day, bright and early (8am) and that you may be there till 5pm, no later. I get it, it is our debt and duty to society, much like voting, but man, what a messed-up approach.

Apparently, we may be required to serve every two years if asked to do so. But like many broken governmental bureaucratic systems, this one seems flawed from the start. Why start with a random letter that appears in someone’s mailbox, giving a specific date to show up for duty, knowing more than likely it will be inconvenient? Instead, that letter could state that you have one year to prepare and make accommodations to serve. This would allow people who have jobs (all of us) to arrange their schedule accordingly and get time off as necessary (of course, not counting against one’s vacation as it is a mandate), arrange for help with dependents, vacations, personal plans, etc. That something could take one day or five days (or more in some situations, I imagine) is also ridiculous. Perhaps if you agree to do a 1-day arrangement, you’re more likely to get called every two years. If you choose to serve a five-day scenario (regardless of whether or not it is five 1-day cases or one 5-day case), then you would not be required to serve for another 5-10 years, perhaps. And not knowing until the night before is simply ridiculous anyhow; what if you’ve arranged for someone to cover your shift, pick up your kids from school, or changed your dentist appointment already? Now that day is just shot. Like most things in the government, the system is broken. It doesn’t have to be, we just get too many morons in there – and this is not a political issue as they come from the full spectrum of the ideological rainbow. (This isn’t to say private industry is any better, that’s simply another rant for another day.)

So, in case you’re wondering, I delayed my service date (yes, you can do that). I had to go to the courthouse between 2:30-4:30pm on a Tuesday or Thursday – yep, that’s the only time you can do this. There is no phone number to make these changes, but you can send a letter. Which I did. Only I never heard back, so I had to go in… They were, admittedly, pretty lenient with me wanting to change dates, and it didn’t take long at all, but somehow, I felt that I was going to get screwed out of this still. We’ll see. I’m sure I’ll update you on this later…

I make an appointment for a dermatologist every year for a full body scan. At that checkup I make the following year’s appointment. Common sense, right? Well, when I got the jury summons, initially I was just going to suck it up and go at the time appointed even though it was a huge inconvenience, but it aligned with my doctor’s exam – of course, right? So, I call the doctor’s office to reschedule – a full two months out – only to find there are no appointments available for 3.5 months! WTF? I’m quite sure if the doctor had a sick kid – or jury duty – she’d find a way to reschedule those she was supposed to see on that day. Apparently, it is not a 2-way street… Of course, I called and complained, bitched and moaned, but alas, it did no good. I thought about finding another provider (which I still may do), but I wanted to speak with the physician directly, just so she knew where I stood on this (plus I’ve seen her before and there is an established health record there, so no need to jump ship – yet). It is reasonable to expect that patients need to reschedule all the time – this was confirmed by the fact that I was put on the waiting list at slot 30, but how is there not more wiggle room? Since it was to be an annual exam, apparently all the open slots were for “specialty visits” – yes, our healthcare system is screwed up. It is still TBD on how she’ll respond, but I’ll try to remember to update you on all of this as well (if you’d like). One more in this area: this isn’t the first time I’ve been whisked aside by a doctor. My regular (non-dermatological) annual exam was about a year ago and I was seeing a new physician (my PA had moved on to greener pastures). I waited in the exam room for a FULL HOUR, frustrated, steaming mad, and was left unattended. No one came in to say a word to me. Finally, when the doctor came in, he spent a total of 8 MINUTES on me. What? Really? Needless to say, I was peeved, so when I got to my computer, I filed a complaint online; got a call back quite quickly. I explained the scenario, got a lot of “I’m sorry” and promises that it will be better next time. We’ll see; that physical is in a few weeks…

The purpose of some people is simply to be a burden to others.

I recently got an unexpected upcharge on my television/internet service; the bill went up by 50% from one month to the next! Strange thing is, I’d had a similar issue almost exactly a year before. Back then, I cancelled a subscription to Showtime, and while I no longer got the service, I was charged for it for three consecutive months. Then, to add insult to injury, they bumped my bill by $40-50 – I was livid! I called in to the do-nothing, worthless inbound call center, unable to get it resolved. I tracked down email addresses for the VP of customer service and sent an email indicating I was going to file a Better Business Bureau (BBB) complaint if this weren’t resolved ASAP. I got a call, got a 1-year, $50/month discount with the promise of it recurring the following year. What happens when the first year ran out? No further discount, bill through the roof. I called to speak to another worthless “customer service” representative only to find that it got me nowhere – though I was not surprised. I asked to speak to his supervisor, he went to “check,” came back and said he wasn’t available right now. I said I’d wait. This frustrated the rep and before he long he said the supervisor would be able to do nothing, so I should just hang up. I refused. He threatened to hang up on me multiple times, and I reminded him that the call was being recorded and he would likely lose his job if he did. He then went through a series of passive aggressive actions, putting me on a very noisy, high-pitched hold, and then would come back every minute, for about 30, saying “the supervisor is not available.” Every time I would respond, “I’ll wait.” Well, but 50 minutes into the call he found someone, though I doubt it was anybody of importance, somehow, and the call continued to go nowhere. I asked for names and badge numbers (and was given them; who knows if those were correct) and proceeded to file a BBB complaint. I was called the next day and had my issue resolved – well, for one year. I guess my new fall tradition will be getting my blood boiling and fighting the good fight against Corporate America as they continue to nickel and dime us along the way because they can – due to another government issue, lack of oversight and their willingness to let these major companies merge and push out all competitors. I really wish we’d just burn everything down and start all over again. Society has been a huge failure, for the most part…

I don’t like being on anyone else’s schedule, and I hate that I have to be so often. I truly wish I could be self-sustaining and learn to live without all this interference every which way I turn. I’m sure if I learned how to live off the grid and forage for my own food, I’d still get attacked by squirrels or something. It’s a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t kind of world,” for me, anyhow. There is just a general lack of consideration and respect for others at every corner of modern life. It shouldn’t be that hard to live by a creed of not making others lives harder. That doesn’t mean you have to like them or even be nice, just don’t impede their lives and the things they have/want to do. Don’t read this the wrong way – this is not a call for the abolition of all regulations, simply that in your daily dealings with people who are trying to just get through the day, don’t be a roadblock. Not hard at all. Really.

For a while I was convinced that people were mostly bad with good intentions, but now I’m not so sure. I think they’re mostly bad with bad intentions, or at least mostly stupid and completely oblivious to common sense. We think we’ve come so far, but the only heights we’ve really reached is that we’re selfish, aloof, and unwilling to consider the effects of any of our actions. It all comes down to time and respecting it. Most don’t seem to get that message, at least not until their time is wasted. But even then, they never learn the lesson. People are stupid.

Marco Esquandoles
Losing Time

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