Wednesday, March 30, 2011

No pain no gain?

I wrote earlier about my arthritis and my failed attempt at an MRI. Since that time, I have gone through a bout of physical therapy and been pretty regular about going to the gym, and my shoulder is getting better and better. Last summer, I went with my son and his family to a circus, and between acts, clowns would come out and work the crowd. One of their techniques was to shoot those long thin balloons into the crowd, and they shot one near me, and I reached out instinctively with my left arm to grab one, and man it hurt.
Most of what I learned to do do in the formal PT sessions was stretching, not heavy weight lifting. The therapist would have me pull against light resistance elastic bands, or rotate my shoulders with very light weights, and I thought it wouldn't work. No pain no gain, and I felt no pain. But in the 2 weeks I had formal training, I got more and more movement from my shoulder. As best I could, I replicated at the gym what I did in PT, and things got better. Because I duplicate with my right side what I do with my left, (as per instructions from the therapist) my right shoulder is much better too. I hadn't been able to throw over hand for a couple of years. Anyone for a game of catch?
I'll bet now if I were at a circus and a balloon came whizzing by, I'd reach out thoughtlessly with no regrets at all.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Inside Knowlege

I had one of those odd experiences with recorded messages about a week ago. I got call from Visa fraud detection department, and as soon as I heard that, I took out my wallet and dumped it on the hassock in front of me. My Visa card was not there. The woman with the cheerful Indian lilt on the other end of the line was detailing some charges made the day before in a place about 20 miles west of where I live, and of course, wanted to know it I or my wife had made them. We hadn't, and she needed to talk to my wife too, then me again as primary card holder, and then I had to listen to a recorded message and agree that I understood that I was getting a new card, that I would destroy my old one (which my wife as doing as I listened). After I agreed to all of this, I closed the phone.
My wife and I talked for a while, and decided that I had likely separated myself from my Visa card the day before at Sam's Club, when I fumbled around exchanging it for my Discover card. Then my phone gave its voice mail chirp, and I had another message from Visa again, and I deleted it without listening, assuming the last call had finished my business.
The next morning just after 8 am, I got another call from Visa, and this recorded voice told me that there had been a request made to issue another card for me, and that the contract I had with Visa required me to affirm that I wanted a new card. I was to choose between 1 or 2, but the question the voiced asked, as far as I could tell, was whether I wanted to maintain this service. I couldn't tell whether pushing one would issue me a new card or not. Ditto for number two. The voice calmly repeated itself, and after a while suggested that I call the 800 number on my card. But of course, the card was in shreds.
I called back the number on the phone and was asked, by another recorded voice, to enter the last 4 digits of my Visa number, the shredded one. I closed the phone in frustration, but then tried again, this time entering random numbers, until I was again hearing the cheerful lilt of an Indian woman, eager to help me. Every thing now is apparently fine. We got new cards, a statement came and there are no fraudulent charges on it. But I could not get clarification of why the call I got about whether I wanted to get new cards was so indirect.
This same sort of thing has happened to me before--the institution I am dealing with assumes I have some sort of inside knowledge. Years ago registering for a conference for work, the non recorded voice on the other end asked me what hotel I was booking, and I said the name. And she asked the same question again, and this went on for 30 seconds. She wanted the name of the city the hotel was in, it turned out, and she had no answer when I asked her why then didn't she just ask for the name of the city. At work one time, responding to a memo about getting a work study student, I got a call from a clerk asking me whether I was requesting a federal or state worker. When I said "How do I know. That's not my job" she got upset. Much later when I decided to have my hair cut radically short, the young lady asked me what number of clipper insert did I want. I asked, how would I know what any number meant, if 1 was the shortest or the longest, and she'd never been asked that before.
So, is this problem universal? Have others had similar experiences,or am I alone?