Wednesday, March 17, 2010


It seems this will be my week for ranting and raging against "the machine."

We have grown all too accustomed to politicians who no longer represent those of us who voted them into office, but, rather, think they represent an ideology, from which there is, too often, no deviation possible, no matter how great the need.

We have grown too accustomed to minimum wage clerks who couldn't understand "customer service" if you tore the page out of the dictionary, translated it into words of a single syllable in any language they chose, and injected it directly into their brains -- with the chutzpah to complain about how mistreated they are on the job.

We have gotten all too used to our fellow citizens who drive their vehicles as if they were the only ones allowed to use the roads, or worse, the only ones actually ON the road at that moment, who have never been trained to understand the impact that a ton or 2 of machine travelling at excessive speed can have on them or someone else, and as a result of that lack of grasp of the painfully obvious, treat driving as an inconvenience -- a distraction to their talking, texting, putting on make-up, or eating -- that must be completed as quickly as possible, without regard to possible consequences.

And, we have somehow allowed our schools to stop teaching our children the important value and details of citizenship -- BECAUSE it cannot be quantified and tested, and is not part of any evaluation of the schools' work that matters! My son took MSA's this week -- and it dawned on me that his school is probably less concerned about what his results mean for his education than they are for what they mean for the school's reputation!

However -- all of those pale at the moment. As I write this, I am beginning the 5th hour of waiting for a Verizon technician to come to my home -- at MY expense -- to find and fix the problem that makes it virtually impossible to hear the person on the other end when the phone rings. It is 12:15 -- and after L finally got thru to a human being by phone last evening, and they did the remote test of the outside lines, and made her go around unplugging each phone individually to make sure it wasn't in any of the phones themselves, they agreed to send a technician today.

At first, they wouldn't giver her an arrival time. When she pushed, they told her between 8 and 12, and that she would receive an automated text message in the morning when they were "on the way."

Sure enough, she got the text message at 7:45 this morning, still not promising anything more specific (First lie exposed -- they were NOT "on the way" according to the text!). I bundled D into the car, rushed him off to his "period zero" phys ed class, and arrived back home at exactly 8:01. No sign of them as I was leaving, no sign they had been here while I was gone, and if they had been here and left, they did so BEFORE the appointed range of times began -- no reasonable expectation that I would be ready or willing to meet them at said time, no attempt to contact either of us to let them know they were waiting.

When they still hadn't shown by 11:30, I texted L, who followed up on their website -- only to find a cryptic message with a 3:00 PM time. Is this the outside endtime by which they were required to be done and report their findings and work? It sure didn't match what we had been told. And it was anything but clear. And good luck finding the magic combination thru the voice-mail switchboard to have this checked, or a pathway thru their website to an actual human being who could explain where the human error had occurred on their end.

And, of course, this followed a day on which not 1, but 2 doctors had each kept me waiting an hour past my scheduled appointment times in order to be seen. BOTH our daughter's (soon to be ex- ) pediatrician and my dermatologist were guilty of this. Not of keeping us too long IN the appointments -- that was an hour each before we were SEEN.

That makes a total of 6 hours -- and counting -- theoretically lost to my congregation of my time (although we all know that I am blessed to work with a congregation that understands the need for their rabbi to have flexibility in his schedule, and besides, I am working from home these days, awaiting the opportunity to rebuild my computer after it mysteriously crashed, so, in fact, THEY are not losing the hours!). Almost one full work day spent waiting for others to do their jobs! Time that I will NEVER get back (even if a fair amount of today's was spent getting things done while I waited).

For snicks, while I was waiting yesterday, I calculated what each of those hours would have cost me in income if I had an employer who would dock me for missing that time. It runs to about $55 per hour -- and we are now pushing past $350 dollars worth this week alone.

But frankly -- as much as I fantasize about living in a world where this kind of selfish, undisciplined, and disrespectful behavior was either banished or billable (wouldn't it be amazing to be able to hand the tech a bill for $250 of MY time if he walked through the door right now?!), the far greater loss to me is that precious time. There are not enough hours in my week as it is to do my job to the standard I and my congregation expect of me, while also spending enough time with my wife and kids, and taking care of myself. So I, like those of you reading, am forced to cut corners to catch up, and to seek some solace by venting in a blog, while waiting, waiting, until only God knows when. Because clearly Verizon sure doesn't!

And the only losers are all of us -- the real people who make up this community, this country, and our planet. We all are a little more desensitized, a little more worn down, a little more dehumanized, by yet another thing that we have no ability to control or correct. And apparently, neither does anyone else!


  1. not to mention the time I wasted when I was supposed to be working... although I am at my office, my productivity today has been rather limited by this nonsense. MY employer should send Verizon a bill too!

    BTW, I also complained to the billing office and they have agreed to credit our phone bill for $15/month for the next 12 months. Small comfort... but if you have a problem it can sometimes pay to complain.

  2. Have you noticed that doctors' offices NEVER have clocks in them? I'm not sure that time has any meaning to them. I'm baffled how they can open at 8:30 and be "running behind" by 8:45.

  3. I blame the insurance industry and large practices. our pediatrician is known by everyone to run behind, because he actually takes time to talk to his patients and their parents. But the staff still has to schedule X patients per day so he can bill enough to the insurance companies - even though they know he routinely takes more time than allotted per patient.

  4. I think I sense a trend in your blog... the shorter posts seem to get the most comments. Does this tell you people don't really take the time to read the long stuff?

  5. well, when one person is responsible for 3 of the 4 comments, I am not sure it is a "trend" :)

  6. Let me go back to your comment on MSA's. I agree that the school is more concerned with the outcome and their reputation more than with your son's education BUT I think you miss the real question. You should be asking WHY? You should be asking HOW? And you should be asking WHEN? WHY is the school more interested in their reputation? HOW did the focus get turned from quality of education to how many students score proficient or advanced? And WHEN will parents finally have enough of substandard education of our children and focus on what is really important?


  7. But Lou, the answers to those are obvious -- why is because of the trend toward nationalization of educational standards; how is because of "No Child Left Behind." As for WHEN -- come up with an effective and affordable strategy for making this change -- private school or home schooling are not economically feasible for the vast majority, and simply voting out the incumbents who passed the laws, or appointed the state or local boards hasn't proven effective either.