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Wednesday, March 5, 2003

I think I've finally reached the breaking point. What's put me there, as I should have expected, is a curve ball. I can hit the fastball pretty well (and I'm really good at waiting out a walk), but Uncle Charlie sets me spinning into the dirt. Can't handle the deuce.

Today's curve came in the form of a worker's compensation claim by one of our part-time employees. One of Tim's Kids says he pulled something at work Friday. He managed to get through the weekend and a couple of days before deciding that he had to go to the doctor and get treated. That was today, and that was my curve ball.

My days are already pretty well filled up. I was in the middle of something when the phone call came, and all I wanted was to get off the phone. I answered all the questions (policy number, phone number for claims, billing address), and that should have been the end of it. If only it could be that simple. But this was no fastball. This one had a hook in it.

Tim is suspicious, although he can't prove anything and has no basis other than the fact that none of his Kids reported any accidents to him. That's probably not unusual. He's a difficult person (cough*hardass*cough), and you don't go up to him and tell him something's wrong. Not unless you want your head bitten off, down to the waist.

And I have no direct contact with Tim's Kids, so I can't find out what really happened except through him. I have to file a report with the insurance company, and they really hate it when it takes a week before they find out about an injury that they might have to pay a claim on. I can't ask anyone else to fill out the form; they just don't do that. Paperwork is my job.

So I have to write out the questions I want answered, in simple language, and fax them to Tim, then hope for the best. It doesn't help that the insurer has a highly non-interactive website. They like things to be done over the phone, and that's not how I work. I avoid the phone as much as possible, and I'm not about to pick it up and call an insurance rep unless somebody's twisting my arm. And I was bullied enough in junior high that I can stand quite a lot of arm-twisting before I cry "uncle."

While I'm dealing with all this, the pile of work I have to get through today isn't getting any smaller. Not at all! I can't prove that it's actually growing, but that's how it appears from halfway up the wall I'm climbing.

At some point it just got to be too much. Now I was swinging wildly even at the flattest fastballs coming down from the hill to the dish. What should have been easy I was making into a big swampy bog of muck. It helped a little that I couldn't do any more today on the worker's comp problem until I get answers to my questions. It helped even more when the Boss called with one of those "are you ready for some good news" messages. (Money. He's collecting some money tomorrow.)

I kept plugging away on the daily work, but I wanted nothing more than to put Mercury Falling on the CD player and lie down with a cold washcloth over my eyes. I did listen to the music, and I think it helped me keep working without completely falling apart. There are little pieces of me all over the house, but the core seems to be holding for now.


Looking through the garden trees at the eastern clouds.

The worst thing about a curve ball is not that you miss it, but that you look bad missing it. I'm thoroughly embarrassed about how badly I reacted to a little twist in the wind today. Well, I would be embarrassed if there were any witnesses, but no one knows about the meltdown but me. And now you.

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I'm now officially retired from the coolant-checking business. I opened the hood one last time this morning and the level was the same as it's been since I got the car back from the dealer. I might give it a thought once in a while yet, but I'm going to try to stop obsessing about it.

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Ballot Balks
"I'm glad to live in a country where we have choices, even if they're bad ones. They're better choices than the Taliban ever gave the Afghans, for example."

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And inside every turning leaf
Is the pattern of an older tree,
The shape of our future,
The shape of all our history.