Saturday, January 3, 2009

I'm dying here

"Wangwangwangwangwangwangwang!" the Chinese restaurant manager said to the cashier.

"Wangwangwangwangwangwangwang!" the cashier replied, casting an eye in my direction.

This back and forth went on for 10,000 years and still they were not satisfied.

Once again, I explained, I was NOT going to pay for someone else's meal who had already paid for it himself. By this point, I was well past exasperation and was now beginning to make a scene. Any other restaurant would have thrown up their hands way earlier and been done with it. Apparently, this was a cultural thing.

I had paid for my own meal without incident. It was the only meal I had eaten. But as I was walking out the door, the cashier called me back. One of the meals on the check had not been scratched off. Turns out, the guy who ate that meal had needed to leave before the check came, so he just paid before he left. As each of the other people at the table left they handed the common check to the cashier, who charged them for their meal and scratched it off the list. I was the unhappy person to present the check last, and the guy who had already paid, before the check came, had not had his meal marked off. It was a busy day and they didn't remember him paying, so now they wanted me to pay for it.

I explained the situation to them, but something was lost in translation. "It's not scratched off," or words to that effect was all they would say as if I should understand and pony up for the meal. I explained that I had paid for my own meal and that I had never even met the guy before that day.

"But he was sitting at your table," they accused.

"I was sitting there first, and he came up and sat down," I said. "I didn't have any control over him sitting down there. He sat down with his sister and brother-in-law, who are friends of mine. I don't even know what his name is."

"But he was sitting at your table."

"And he was sitting in YOUR restaurant. And I don't know him any better than you do. Besides, I saw him pay. He had to leave before your waitress brought the check."

"But it's not scratched off," they reasoned.

"It's not my problem," I taught them.

"But he was sitting at your table."

"If it's MY table then I'm taking it home with me."

That didn't get me anywhere, but a friend promised them the brother-in-law of the guy would call them and take care of it. It was a lie, of course, but it mollified them.

That was two or three years ago and it still makes me angry. I refuse to go back and eat there.

Sometimes, when I wonder why I don't hear the voice of God anymore, I remember this incident and ponder what I should have done differently.

According to Jesus, if someone forces me to go one mile, I'm supposed to go not only that mile, but one more as well. I guess I'm supposed to show him that he might force me to do something, but I still can choose to do something for him. So according to that directive, I should have asked how much the man's unscratched bill was, then double the amount and pay that.

But I'm an American, a rugged individualist, and I will not be forced to pay anything I do not owe. What would have been gained by me double paying for a meal that was already paid for? Surely these restauratuers didn't know that I had just left church that Sunday at noon. Certainly they wouldn't have felt the the love God from my gesture.

Today, I am facing a similar problem: My doctor had written a prescription for four mail-order drugs in November, but I had saved the prescription until I needed it. In December a surgeon undeviated my septum and now I don't need three of the drugs my GP had prescribed. So I filled out the form that accompanies my mail-order and requested only the Plavix. I included enough money only for the Plavix.

On Friday, I got a box with all four medications and a bill for $30.

I called the mail-order pharmacy today and was told that since some people don't fill out the form completely, they just go by what's on the prescription. Also, they have no policy for taking back my useless drugs nor for refunding my money. I'll just have to send them $30 and throw away three-quarters of the medicine, and, next time, stick a note on the prescription.

"There will not be a next time," I replied. I will just die an earlier death because of my high cholesterol and it will be Aetna Home Delivery's fault, not my own stubborness'. But that will be fine with me because I will no longer have to deal with Aetna Rx Home Delivery or with Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Delaware or with Dell Computers or with United Parcel Service or with any of the other companies that are driving me to an early grave with their moronic practices.

Nevermind that I followed the rules for filling out the form, and nevermind that the form's instructions said nothing about attaching a note if you didn't want everything listed on the prescription. No, it seems that because some people aren't smart enough to fill out a form correctly, I have to pay for drugs I can't even use. This is what that say in the offices of Aetna Rx Home Delivery: "Let's make a form for people to send in with their mail-order prescriptions. But since most people don't fill the form out completely we'll just go by what's on the prescription. If anyone fills out the form correctly and we accidentally send them drugs they can't use, that person, who is competent at filling out our form, will just have to keep his useless drugs and, furthermore, send us even more money for them. If he refuses, we'll ruin his credit."

That's some catch, that Catch-22.

If I were to listen to Jesus, I would double what Aetna Rx Home Delivery requests of me and pay them $60. And I would tell them to keep the change. I certainly know I was much happier back when I had the change.

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