Do Call Center Workers, People Chained To A Desk In A Windowless Cubicle, Eat Veal?

This post originally appeared September 11, 2013.  Then it disappeared!  Luckily I don’t depend on the web to archive my writing.  I have a printed copy of all of my posts.  Why did the server eat the post?  Why is it difficult to post pictures now?  No one knows.  Thank G-d for paper…


The client didn’t mince words.  He saw an article in the Plain Dealer about retired workers getting free or almost free insurance under the new health care law.  “WHY CAN’T I GET THAT RATE?  Please don’t refer me to your blog—I don’t have the inclination to read/learn that much about the situation in general.  I’m looking for something specific to me.”

I was not pleased.  The whole point of my Health Insurance Issues With Dave blog is to provide context to the health care debate.  By-pass the details and you end up with the one-sided TV reports.  MSNBC – Rainbows and unicorns.  FOX – We’re all gonna DIE!

I was tempted to remind Chuck that more knowledge is better than less, working within the system is preferable to being victimized by it.  And then I jumped off my soapbox before I was pushed.

We’ve had a tough computer month.  First the server crashed.  Then I replaced my office computer, a box that was less than three years old, with a new top-of-the-line Dell.  Windows 7.  Office 2013.  The newest Outlook.  It took a week to get Internet Explorer to work.  The rest of the stuff SUCKS.  Sure, there is an online Windows video that might answer my questions.  There are tutorials and classes available, too.

But I don’t have the time or interest to learn that much about Windows 7.  I just want my issues to be resolved.

I am trying to find someone to spend an hour with me to get my stuff to work.  And I answered Chuck’s questions without mentioning my blog.


My Republican friend couldn’t wait to ask his question.  A few of us were talking and Ron patiently stood nearby, shifting his weight from one leg to the other.  At first I thought that he needed to use the restroom.  And when his time came, he looked me in the eye and asked his question, “Syria?

Even though I am a moderate Democrat, I am the go to guy of this group, the guy called upon to defend or explain every action taken by this President.  Today the question was Syria.

Ron was loaded for bear.  He was ready with every FOX talking point.  But to be fair, this situation, a stop and start military / diplomatic debacle that appears to be more reaction than the culmination of a well-defined strategy seemed to confirm every impression the Right has of President Obama.

I disappointed Ron.  I noted that I have never fired a weapon.  The only uniform I’ve ever worn is the suit and tie of a middle-aged Jewish businessman.  I can answer questions about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  I know nothing about war.

No fight.  No vigorous defense of the President.  I could tell that Ron had been hoping for so much more.  So I agreed with him.  I guess if I was really that exercised by the use of chemical weapons (again!), I would have taken immediate action.  If I needed Congressional involvement, I would have pushed for it THEN.  I don’t pretend to understand the President’s strategy.  And I don’t know where or why we should bomb Syria.

And by the way, if you bomb Syria and you accidently topple the government, name one Syrian, any Syrian, who is any better than Bashar al-Assad.


Bruce the Microsoft tech and I stared in amazement.  Bruce was in my office to resolve a nagging issue on my new computer.  He couldn’t get started because my computer was still under the control, by remote access, of an Indian technician attempting to install my client contact software.  For an hour.  Even I could tell that this guy had no idea what he was doing.  An hour on the phone to India.  An hour tying up both my computer and the server.  An hour of listening to him guess how his software worked.

Bruce and I took control of the cursor and got the program to run.  It had never occurred to me to question the competency of the guy at the other end of the phone.  I just assumed that the software companies would only connect us to qualified, well-trained techs.

I should know better.  If you have ever called in to a major insurer to purchase health coverage, you have been connected to their internal sales staff.  The price of coverage isn’t a penny less even though you get someone stuck in a cubicle instead of a real broker.  I can always tell, just by looking at the policy, if someone worked with an independent agent or a company drone.  The quality of their work reflects the bleakness of their work environment. 


We are being herded into a new insurance system, one that is reliant on computer portals that have yet to be completed, that puts a great deal of emphasis on self-reporting and previously undemonstrated math skills, and in the end, depends on the kindness of strangers.

We may be asking too much.