Monday, January 5, 2015

Back in the land of confusion

Ok, break was rough. It's getting all Flowers for Algernon with my dad, who hasn't lost any of his go-go-go executive vp drive but his memory and his comprehension are deteriorating down to match his struggles with walking. Someone got him a birthday card with a flying fish that had a halo on the outside, and in the inside it said, "holy mackerel! It's your birthday!" And dad didn't get it. This is a guy who has always loved puns, too. He pronounced some simple words wrong inside another card and didn't understand a few others when he read the rest of them to us also. That would be fine if he didn't still insist on running the household like he was running a company --- he doesn't really remember what he's doing from one half hour to the next, but if we have something on, like extended family coming over for dinner, he expects them to be 15 minutes early and treats it like a dr's appt. or important meeting, where the start time is extremely important. And he starts checking in on when they should arrive right then, with querulous nagging, at 7:15 in the morning or whenever he decides to start asking questions. We cannot get him to understand for the life of us that it is a family leisure day and nobody wants it scripted; they are relaxing and not making any plans because it is a day off and they will come over when they are good and ready. Ugh. If there's a quality I lack, it is patience, and we are rapidly running through my reserves of patience with dad's abilities. And I know things are only going to get worse. I don't know how I'm going to cope with it.

But now I am back in The Hot Place where nobody seems to understand a word I say. It's getting positively to be a Gaslight sort of experience --- is there something about me? How is it everyone is having problems understanding? Maybe it is me and I can't communicate or teach worth a damn --- but then why have I never really had a problem with communication and being understood anywhere else?

I just went and picked up my cats and evidently somebody said something, like called me Mr. Cog instead of Ms., but I didn't hear it, and went around the corner to hand over the cat carriers, and came back to the front desk to get abjectly apologized to by the receptionist. "I'm sooo sorry I disrespected you and please don't get me written up, but I don't even know what I said," groveled the receptionist. "What? I didn't notice anything. I'm not mad; there's not problem. No problem!" We went back and forth for about 5 minutes on this with both of us assuring the other that no offense had been knowingly given or taken, and at this point, really, I just want to get my damn cats. Then someone else, another receptionist, comes around the corner and gives the first receptionist the what-for. "You know what you did," she finally exclaims. "And don't tell me you won't be calling us up once you get home to ream all of us out for her," she hisses at me. A third receptionist has been trying to bring up my account and is having trouble; evidently someone entered in the codes all wrong and the price is different for both cats and appears to be wrong in either case. This third lady laughs at me and goes, "you've got a deer-in-the-headlights look right now!" The second lady laughs and says, "you have the strangest things you say!" "I had a person call on the phone and be so rude to me I told him if he came in here he could kiss me on my little pink BE-hind!" "Yeah, but what was the weird one? Raining on the cats and dogs?" "It was raining cats and dogs yesterday." "You are so strange!"

After a bit the first receptionist person helps the third with my billing error and runs my credit card. Nobody has gone out and gotten the cats yet. That third lady, the little pink Be-hind lady, does various things and runs around a bit and then tries to go back to the back room and run my credit card a second time, and totally doesn't understand me when I am trying to explain why I don't need to hand her my card. Finally the first receptionist comes out and explains things to this third lady who FINALLY comes around the counter to get my cat carriers from me, and then I get to wait about 10 minutes which is pretty standard for the cat-capturing part.

And THEN when I get the cats who are furiously meowing out and in to my car and am about to drive away, another tech knocks on the window and hands me a big bag of canned cat food. My canned cat food. There is a printed sticker on the bag --- now that I am home I can see it has my cats' names and my name and phone number ---- and there are 32 cans in the bag. ... Uh ... what have you been feeding my cats, people? They should share a can every morning and every evening --- that is two cans a day for them --- and be given the dry food in between. It is typed up on my records and all the vet info; I see it whenever they hand me a printed out receipt for boarding or vet checks ... why are you handing all the food back to me? I don't understand what you don't understand. Am I just magically incapable of being understood in this place? Do I suddenly speak gibberish and have strange, hostile expressions on my face at all times? Are people here just completely incompetent for words? Nothing makes any sense.


Anonymous said...

Could you have accidentally entered The Twilight Zone over break?

Sisyphus said...

Nah --- according to my students, I am always bizarrely incomprehensible.

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog and am obsessed by it.

Steve Fellner

Dame Eleanor Hull said...

If you're in the South, it could be that you talk too fast.

Are the cats okay?

Susan said...

You might want to check with the Alzheimer's Association - even fellow feeling helps. I think they do support groups, which my stepmother found really helpful. You often have to take a deep breath. My father would try to pay for things (my brothers wedding reception) and we'd have to say, "it's OK, Dad, it's been taken care of".

Those receptionists sound singularly clueless.