Monday, May 17, 2010

The Hang Up

Okay, this is what I want to know. Does everyone get hung up on as much as I do? I mean like when you call someplace for something and they put you on hold f-o-r-e-v-e-r and then, unmistakeably, you hear the dial tone and think, "FIGURE OUT HOW TO PUT SOMEONE ON HOLD, YOU MORON!" And then you call back for more torture. No? Just me? Um-hmm. I figured.

Here's the story, which is just one of many, I tell you. Many. Because when I called the Walgreen's pharmacy on May 8th to get Jose's Epi Pen prescription, (which you can read about here) they hung up on me. Truly. Everyone hangs up on me. Even Moviefone hangs up on me! You know, when you call and the guy says in that crazy Harkins voice where the intonations are all off, "If you know the name of the movie you'd like to see, press one (only it sounds like Wan, like Obi Wan Kenobi)?" And so on and so forth and really? Who gets hung up on on Moviefone? Me apparently. Incidentally, did you know that Moviefone has a website? I didn't, until two seconds ago because I googled it because I had an inkling that "Moviefone" was not spelled "MoviePhone." Okay, I'm done.

So a couple of weeks ago I decide to make strawberry freezer jam; which, by the way, is completely delicious in every way and remarkably easy to make, if you have the right ingredients; which, as it turns out, I did not. I was out of fruit pectin, the stuff that makes strawberries and sugar into jam. It's the gelatin, sort of. Anyway, I went to my neighborhood Fry's to buy more Sure Jel, the pink box, not the yellow one. And they were out. Of course.

So, I went to Walmart. To the section where they sell all the canning supplies, including Sure Jel. Let me interject here by saying that I know Walmart like the back of my own hand, especially the right one with the two inch-and-a-half spaced apart freckles that I pretended were buttons on my hand that gave me super powers as a kid. Like flying and shooting fire from my knuckles. Okay, do we get it? I have studied the back of my hand and I practically live at Walmart. Good, we're all on the same page.

Walmart is out of Sure Jel. But, they have another brand in stock that is of the low-sugar variety, the equivalent of my Sure Jel in the pink box. Yellow is the full sugar recipe, but don't let the pink box fool you, it calls for pul-len-tee of sugar. So I think, how different could it possibly be? And I pick up a couple boxes.

Thankfully, I start reading one of the boxes while I'm in line (there must have been a shortage of good Branjelina gossip at the checkout) and realize that I need juice. This brand requires juice instead of just water. Apple or Grape. Okay. So I run back to the juice isle and spend another 10 minutes trying to decide on whether I want to get apple or grape or white grape or apple cherry or white grape peach because wouldn't it be fun to give my strawberry jam a little kick? Well, what about the different brands? I swear by Welch's and know it's delicious and they have the cutest kids in their commercials, but honestly, I could really stand to save the fifty cents and buy the Great Value brand. And should I get a No Sugar Added variety, because the whole point is to use the pink-lower-sugar recipe anyway? But wait a minute, how come this supposedly-same-recipe-only-it's-a-different-brand calls for juice at all? Ultimately, I choose Welch's 100% Grape and move on with my life.

I get through the check out and I get home and assemble all my jam making paraphernalia; like a wide-mouthed jar funnel, the red strawberry huller that I love and only cost me $2.99, and the mini food processor that I bought the night before, after having to return the first one I bought two days before because the plastic jar part was cracked on the bottom. No, I am not kidding. I get out the fake Sure Jel and open up the box to read the recipe and the fine print hits me, "White grape juice should be used because of its more mild flavor." Oh-kay. Then why, pray tell, does it just say "Apple or Grape" on the outside of the dumb box? I think about the mental wrestling that I did in the juice isle, and decide that my strawberry jam is just gonna have a little more distinct flavor than most.

I make the jam and try not to think about how I'm probably wasting my time, especially since the directions are totally different using the impostor Sure Jel. Thank goodness I only tried a single batch. The jam is...zippy. A quality that I really love in say, deviled eggs, but not so much in strawberry freezer jam. Back to the drawing board.

I decide--rapidly this time--well, okay, maybe it took me a few minutes of contemplation, that I needed to just find a place that carried the pink Sure Jel. Or had it in stock, or whatever. I just had to have the PINK BOX!

Determined, I get online. I find out that there are two Fry's locations within 3 miles of my house, one of which I know is out of the pink box because I personally inspected the shelves and asked someone to "look in the back" for me. Don't cha wish you could "look in the back" personally? Just to make sure?

Anyway, I think, "Okay, I'll just call first to see if they have it before I make the trip down there." Gosh, I'm nothing if not thorough. And I run around the house to find my cell phone and then plop down in front of the computer and dial.

A girl answers. She's probably 18 I'm guessing. She asks how she can help me and I tell her what I'm looking for and if she could please tell me whether or not this Fry's location has it in stock. She says she will find out and can she put me on hold? No problem, I say. Click. Beep-beep, beep-beep, beep-beep. Silence. I look at my phone. It's giving me a read-out of how many seconds I just wasted because it is so not connected to my neighborhood Fry's Marketplace.

I call back.

Miss Probably 18 answers again. As if nothing happened. I tell her I just called. And I am the one looking for Sure Jel. In the pink box. It's usually with the canning stuff. It's for making strawberry jam. "Do you have it in stock?" I ask more than politely. She says she's sorry, and can I put you on hold? Sure. Click. Beep-beep, beep-beep, beep-beep. Silence. Again. I hang on a couple seconds, willing the beep to continue. Nope. I look at my phone. I think I might have said "crap" under my breath. Or something else.

I call back.

Ah. Miss Probably 18. Exactly the same greeting. As if she isn't busy looking for my pink box! How DARE SHE not be busy finding my pectin! "Um, I just called. I'm the one looking for Sure Jel. What is you name?" She tells me, "Desiree," or something like that because honestly, I cannot for the life of me remember her name, so sue me. "Okay, Desiree? DO NOT HANG UP ON ME. You put me on hold twice already and you HUNG UP ON ME twice. DO NOT HANG UP ON ME AGAIN. Okay? (sweetly)" Uncertain pause. "Okay. Well, can I put you on hold?" I don't think she even batted an eye.

I told her she could put me on hold, but only if she knew how to take me off hold, once I got on. That might have been a low blow, but I don't think she noticed. Not capable of noticing, perhaps? Hmm, maybe that's a little harsh.

Nah. The girl hung up on me twice in a row.

Finally, after holding and listening intently to beeps for far too long, somebody else picked up the phone. Surprise! A man...determined to help me! A manager, perhaps? I sang the Hallelujah Chorus in my mind and repeated my request. Sure Jel. Pink Box. In the canning isle. "Okay, let me just go check," and I squinted and crossed my fingers and prayed for overdue aligned stars.

"Yes, ma'am," out of breath--he had actually hurried--"we actually have quite a few of those in stock." I thanked the heavens for capable middle-aged adults and I gleefully told him that I'd be there in ten minutes. And when I got there in nine, I bought eight out of fifteen boxes of the precious pink pectin. Which are truly worth their weight in gold. Or at least cell phone minutes.

And can you guess what I found out about my Walmart Superstore, the one I know so intimately well? Yeah, two days ago I was in there, minding my own business in the baking isle and low and behold; I swear they had twelve boxes of pink Sure Jel hidden by the Jello. And it wasn't a fluke. It was sitting next to the yellow boxes. Like it belonged there, saddled up by the Jello. Like it had been there all along.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Should I send it?

May 8, 2010

Dear Dr. Hoag,

This morning my husband Jose Aguilar, your patient, told me that he had been able to clear his work schedule for the weekend, allowing him to take our 3 year old son on his first Father/Son Campout. He asked me to prepare the necessary items, as they would be leaving town at 4:30 pm.

At about one in the afternoon, I remembered that Jose’s EpiPen had expired and that he needed a new one to attend the campout. We know that Jose went into anaphylactic shock as the result of some kind of insect bite, and so being out of doors at a campout poses a threat to his life to some degree, although I am not sure how significant.

I called your office to have the prescription sent to the Walmart pharmacy where I prefer to fill our prescriptions due to the fact that we pay for them out of pocket and Walmart is less expensive. I was told that my request would take from 24 to 48 hours. I politely asked if they could please make an exception and explained our circumstances. The receptionist seemed put out that she even had to take my call, much less help me take the necessary steps to get my husband’s prescription filled.

When the prescription was not called in to the Walmart pharmacy as requested, I called your office again to ask whether or not I could go to the Walgreen’s where the prescription was on file and get it filled there. The receptionist did not know, but she did call me back a couple of hours later (past the departure time) to let me know that the prescription could not be filled and that Jose needed to schedule a time to come in to be re-evaluated and that maybe then he could get another EpiPen prescription.

I must say that I find this to be completely unreasonable and absolutely ridiculous. Jose has not been bitten by whatever caused his allergic reaction since the time he was hospitalized, which initially resulted in his coming to you for an EpiPen prescription. I hope he is NEVER bitten again. What is the point of being re-evaluated, besides the fact that we will have to pay for another office visit, if he has been asymptomatic since the first visit?

Luckily, Jose had a refill left on his last prescription and so I was able to fill it today within 20 minutes, thanks to the efficient and friendly staff at Walgreen’s. They didn’t mind expediting the refill at all. In fact, it was their pleasure to do so, especially considering the circumstances.

Now, to be fair, I did know that Jose’s EpiPen was past its expiration date. But after having talked with a pharmacist and a physicians assistant, and having read this article,, we decided that as long as Jose’s EpiPen was clear, we would use it while he was around town and within a couple miles of any number of hospitals, even though the bioavailability of the epinephrine may be reduced.

But in this case, he was not going to be in town, and when it takes hours to get to a hospital, he needs to take more precaution.

If there is a reason that Jose needs to be seen again, please enlighten me. And I mean that in the most sincere terms. I would like to be on the same page as you are.

But if, however, you have read my letter and agree that he may forego the office visit, please have his new prescription sent to the Walmart pharmacy on 2501 South Market Street in Gilbert. Their phone number is 480-224-6911.

Regardless of whether or not Jose needs to come in for a new evaluation, I hope to expect a little more kindness and professional courtesy from your staff—the kind of respect that you have always shown us when we have come to your office. I’m sure it was just an off day.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Very sincerely,

Kim Aguilar