"What may seem depressing or even tragic to one person may seem like an absolute scream to another person, especially if he has had between four and seven beers." ~ Dave Barry
Life is! That may seem like a rather mundane statement, but as humdrum as it may appear to be, the statement is true nonetheless.
Life is! Life is funny. Life is sad. Life is beautiful. Life is ugly. But no matter your situation, irrespective of your current point of view; regardless of your present state of mind; life is! Life exists. Yes, life changes; it’s capricious. But it is.
I'm a big proponent of laughter. It keeps me from crying! And there are certainly plenty of things for us to cry about. As I said, life is sad. But whatever we can say about life; the converse is also true. Without sadness there could be no laughter. Without darkness there could be no light.
So if life is sad, then life must also be joyous. Thus, we have the Yin and the Yang of life.
When we overload in one area, we naturally seek the opposite area for balance. When we are sad, we seek joy, laughter. When we are tired, we sleep, and on and on it goes. Newton’s Third Law of Motion states, For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This law applies to everything, whether physical, emotional or spiritual. It’s all the same.
It’s all about balance. When we’re out of balance in any area of our lives for any length of time, bad things happen.
So, in keeping with that premise; I need to get back into balance. I need to laugh today. I’m not sure why. I think perhaps I’m just feeling a little overwhelmed in some areas of my life and I need a break from the battle. No big deal! Nothing earth-shattering. Just the normal stuff. In speaking of life’s challenges, a friend of mine used to say, “It’s all part of life’s rich parade.”
How about a joke? Three guys walk into a bar; a conservative, a moderate and a liberal, and the bartender says, “Hi Mitt!”
I know some of you aren’t laughing, but come on now; that’s pretty funny, don’t you think? This isn’t some ploy to divide my readership into political camps. It’s a joke! If you didn’t see at least a smidgeon of humor in that, you’re probably out of balance. Either that or you’re just a sourpuss!
I heard that joke on FOX News and you’re not going to believe who told it – Dick Morris, former advisor to Bill Clinton and a FOX regular. If you’re not familiar with Dick Morris, let me tell you; he’s not a funny guy. He’s actually rather boring most of the time. This was totally out of character, which made the joke all that much more hilarious; well, that and the fact that Morris bears an uncanny resemblance to Tweedledum, or is it Tweedledee? I always get those two confused.
Morris is an enigma to me. It appears that he’s always been a Toadie for the Democrats, but now he’s on FOX taking shots at not only the Republicans, but at his old pals the Democrats as well. I don’t get it. He’s obviously a bright guy. It seems as though he and his wife write a new book every other week. I guess he’s just another of the many political insiders airing everyone else’s dirty laundry for profit; loyalties aside, which is one of the countless reasons I despise politics and have little or no use for politicians.
Okay, what am I doing? I wanted to lighten this up, have a little fun and get a few giggles, but it seems I’ve reverted back to the ‘serious’ mode, further evidence of my being out of balance; stuck in a rut.
Let’s try this again, shall we?
I recently changed my banking information for the monthly debit drawn against my checking account to pay my life insurance premiums. And by ‘recently’ I mean that hopefully, by the time this column goes up on the web, it will have been squared away.
The process began nearly two months ago, on January 2nd of this year. I obtained the necessary form needed by my insurance carrier in order to authorize debit entries to my checking account, filled it out with my personal information, banking information, signed it and then sent it off by Priority Mail, signature required, in order to cover my butt in the event of a slip-up on the insurance carriers part. I’m very thorough about things like that. I don’t like problems. I’m a long-time proponent of the maxim - whatever can go wrong, will.
I checked the U. S. Postal Service website a few days later and found that my mail had arrived at the insurance company’s offices and a delivery confirmation signature had been obtained. Mission accomplished, or so I thought.
About two weeks later, I received a letter from my insurance company informing me that I had not included a voided check, which is required and is clearly stated on the form I’d sent them. My bad! But no big deal. I tore a check from my checkbook, wrote void across the front, copied both the letter and the check [I told you I was thorough], attached it to the letter I’d received and, in an unabashed step of faith, mailed it by regular mail.
A few days later I received a notice in the mail informing me that my January premium payment, which had been due on the 19th of the month, was past due and I had a thirty-one day grace period in which to make my payment before my policy would be cancelled.
I called my insurance company, advising them that I had received a past due notice and that I had sent in the form to have my checking account debited for my payments. They assured me that the past due notice and my paperwork had merely crossed in the mail, that they had, in fact, received my authorization form, and that it was ‘in process’, which would take about ten business days.
They guaranteed me that my past due January payment would be debited from my checking account in plenty of time, and indicated that I need not worry about missing the grace period.
Several days later, I received yet another letter from the insurance company. It was a PAC Return Notice, which read as follows:
We have received your request to change your current bank information or set up a new bank draft. However, we must have the following information to complete the process.
PLEASE RETURN THE CHECKED ITEM(S) BELOW VIA MAIL -
X - SIGNATURE OF JOINT ACCOUNT HOLDER (Freelance Writer needs to sign the form)
I couldn’t believe it! My checks are imprinted with………..
PO Box 4
Easton, MA 02334
Some knucklehead thought ‘Freelance Writer’ was the joint account holder!
I got on the phone and waited nearly ten minutes before I was finally connected to a very nice young lady in customer service.
“Hello, this is Michele. How may I help you today?”
“Hi, Michele. How are you?” I asked.
“Well, I’m just fine, sir. Thank you for asking. And how are you? She responded cheerfully.
“I’m doing pretty well,” I replied. “But I’ll be a lot better if you can help me with this.”
“Well, I’ll sure do my best,” she assured me. “What may I do to help you?”
“My name is Robert Havey,” I said. “That’s H-A-V-E-Y.” I always spell my last name because, for some strange reason, everyone wants to stick an ‘r’ in there and change it to Harvey; a minor annoyance I’ve been dealing with all my life. “Are you able to pull up some paperwork that you just sent to me?” I asked.
“I sure can, Mr. Havey” she said. “One moment.”
I could hear her entering data into her computer, so I continued yammering, as is my custom. “You’re not going to believe this one,” I offered. “I hope you need a good laugh today.”
“Oh, I can always use a laugh,” she replied, “Okay, Mr. Havey. I have a PAC Return Notice that we just sent out to you about a week ago. Is that what you’re referring to?”
“That’s it?” I said. “Read it and tell me if you can see what the problem is.”
“Okay,” she replied, “I see that we are in need of a signature for the joint account holder.”
“And who would that be?” I asked slyly.
There was a short pause as Michele reviewed the form. “Oh my,” she laughed. “You were right. That is funny!”
“Freelance Writer is what I do,” I volunteered. “It’s not a person. It’s a vocation.”
There was a brief period of hearty laughter before Michele said, “That made my day!”
“Glad I could help,” I replied. “Can I ask you a question?”
“Sure,” Michele responded.
“I have to know,” I said. “Is this form reviewed by a computer or a real person?”
“A real person,” Michele laughed. “They’re done in another country, but they’re supposed to be reviewed by a customer service rep here.”
“That’s unbelievable,” I said. “At least we got a chuckle out of it.”
“We sure did,” Michele replied.
Michele and I talked for a few more minutes, had a few more laughs at her company’s expense and closed out our business with the understanding that my policy would be in force until this problem was resolved and that she would email me as soon as she had a date for the initial debit against my account.
As promised, I received an email from Michele the next morning, advising me of the date of the debit for my January and February premiums and, again, assuring me that my policy would not be affected by this comedy of errors.
I sent a quick email to Michele, thanking her for her help, as well as one to her supervisor, telling her what an exemplary customer service rep Michele was; a breath of fresh air in a time when true customer service is nearly extinct.
I got a return email from Michele’s supervisor, Sue, which read, Thank you for your very nice feedback. I will make sure that Michele gets Kudos for a job well done!
The email was addressed to 'Mr. Harvey'.
Make it a great week!
Bob Havey is an Easton-based freelance writer and a consummate trouble-maker. His column, "The View From Here", appears each Tuesday at http://easton-ma.patch.com and on Wednesday at http://mansfield-ma.patch.com. His column, “The Way I See It”, runs every other Wednesday at http://norton.patch.com.