This week in being a Grown Up…
I yelled at a Blue Shield customer service rep by phone. Their system suddenly stopped accepting my payments due to some technical glitch. Despite addressing the problem both on their website and then more directly with a good-natured representative named Chris, I received a Final Notice, in big bold lettering, that informed me my account was subject to cancellation. It would appear Chris had lied to me when he said we were square and fed me what I can only assume was a fake confirmation number. And this really hurt too, because I thought Chris and I had a connection.
I discovered this Final Notice after a long, challenging day on set. My fuse was practically non-existent, so when I called their customer service hotline, I was out for blood. In 22 agonizing minutes, we identified the problem and (fingers crossed) I successfully paid them my hard-earned money for whatever it is they provide. Oh yeah, health insurance, whatever.
When I hung up with Mister Blue Shield Customer Service Rep (it should be noted that I never asked for his name), I felt both impressed with my assertiveness and grossed out by the way in which I asserted.
On the one hand, it felt satisfying because I’m wholly underwhelmed by our health care system and am always looking for an excuse to shake my fist at the government like a disgruntled customer, as if to suggest it really was their job to protect my best interest. Amurr-icah, f*ck yeah! Sure, this particular glitch in Blue Shield’s system responsible for my problem has nothing to do with the government, but that didn’t matter.
It felt satisfying because here I was on a Tuesday night, after a long, challenging work day, dealing with my grown up problems like a Grown Up: I was yelling at someone.
“I pay you good money!” I yelled. “I am 27 years old, sir, and your stupid company won’t take my perfectly good payments, and therefore is ruining my credit and I hate you!”
I convinced myself this was about my credit. My father instilled me with a deep-rooted, fear-induced need to “diligently follow the rules” when it came to my finances, credit score and the proper maintenance of my car. You know, the things that count. At one point, I’m pretty sure I said, “you know the importance of a good credit score in this country! Every late payment counts! You’re literally ruining my life!”
It wasn’t really about my credit, though. I’m an assistant all day long – to men, as well as to a process that is chaotic, challenging, ego-driven. It’s fulfilling, in the sense that I’m working toward something, that I’m learning and growing; but it’s exhausting, both physically and emotionally. It’s not easy attending to someone else’s needs all day long.
In those 22 minutes, it was Mister Blue Shield Customer Service Rep’s job to assist me, to take my needs seriously. I was the customer, I was the king! And of course the only way to know for certain if I was being taken care of properly was to be exceedingly inappropriate, emotional and undiplomatic. I made threats of canceling my account only to assess Mister Blue Shield Customer Service Rep’s groveling. When said groveling felt corporately insincere, I raised my voice again and made grander threats. I eventually got my way, and very condescendingly forgave Mister Blue Shield Customer Service Rep on behalf of his company.
This week in being a Grown Up…
I didn’t internalize the emotional, institutionalized crap that accumulated throughout my 14-hour workday, but rather aggressively passed it on to some poor dude in some poor cubicle somewhere. And undoubtedly – unless he does yoga or something – Mister Blue Shield Customer Service Rep went home, found some poor someone nearby, and re-dumped my crap once more. This is what Grown Ups do. We crap it forward.
It made me realize how lucky I was that Peter Parker wasn’t around when I was unwillingly driven to the point of crapping it forward; because had he been, I’d likely have taken it out on him. It’s why when he came over that night, I hugged-him-hello for a very long time. Sort of like when your mom hugs you for a long, silent while and you just know she’s privately reminiscing about the day you were born. Yeah, it was creepy and weird, but it felt really good. His arms are such a better place to seek solace from my problems.
So, this week in being a Grown Up…
I offer a letter of sincere apology to the poor man who absorbed my bullshit on Tuesday night. To the man I wronged when I crapped it forward.
* * *
Dear Mister Blue Shield Customer Service Rep,
First, let me say that I apologize for never asking your name. Especially because I told you that my name was Kirsten F*cking Knisely, as if to suggest that meant something. I can assure you it does not. The truth behind this defiant declaration of my moniker had more to do with the fact that Blue Shield has me in their system as Kirsen. No T. I’m pretty sure that’s not actually anyone’s name, anywhere. But I digress, as I know this isn’t your fault or your problem.
Secondly, I apologize I spoke to you the way that I did. The vile tone that emerged from my being was wholly unnecessary; I don’t usually sound like a hangry witch doing a Batman impression. That even surprised me.
I know it’s not your fault that Blue Shield messed up. I know you’re just a person fighting the good fight like the rest of us. I would understand if that night you Googled images of “generic privileged white girl,” printed one out and threw darts at it. I am, after all, the worst.
But you, sir, you did more for me that night than your company ever has. I don’t know what I did to deserve your patience, your kindness, and your attention to my issues. You were my emotional punching bag, and for that, you may have preemptively saved my relationship.
You provided health care for my soul, Mister Blue Shield Customer Service Rep; and for that, I thank you. You’re the best part about that company.
Sincerely and with love,
Kirsten F*cking Knisely.
ps. If you see Chris, tell him he’s dead to me.