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Radical Apathy

Those here who are foolish enough to pay attention to my ravings know that last Friday, just in time for the holiday weekend, I received a notice from my Credit Union that I was overdrawn.

After sufficient ranting, raving and (under my breath out of respect for my mother) cursing, I got the necessary papers together and sat on them, waiting for this morning to argue my case with my bank.

At 8 am on the tick, I opened my papers, including the NSF notice, and saw something I had not, before. This NSF was in regard to my savings account, not checking. It seems that Verizon, in infinite electronic wisdom, had dropped the last two digits of my account number, which shows that a withdrawal is to be made from checking.

I did call my bank to verify, and was told, 'yeah, they did that'.

I checked my email confirmation of the payment, and saw that I had given them the correct numbers, so it was obviously their fault. With this information I called Verizon.

After seemingly endless time spent wandering among the twisted pathways of Verizons electronic maze, I'd finally had enough, and began repeating, 'agent, agent, Agent, AGENT!'. In an almost surprised voice, the electronic system answered 'You have asked to be connected to a representative, is this correct? Press 1 for . . .'

'YES!' I shouted.

A few moments later I was connected with a tired-voiced woman who was not prepared to believe a word I told her, and assumed, no matter how I explained, that this was my mistake. I triumphantly told her the correct number was on my payment confirmation notice, but apparently, that is equivalent to the Hawaiian Certificate Of Live Birth, and even Verizon will not accept it.

So, until I can get confirmation from my CU, not only will the NSF fee stand, but so will late fees on the now-past-due payment. Just another service of Verizon Mindless.

While on hold with Verizon, I happened to glance up at my appointment papers, hung in a bulldog clip on the wall beside my PC, and noticed that, besides my MRI, scheduled for 9:45, I also had a long-standing appointment with my urologist, for a urine flow and capacity test at 9:30.

Now, luckily, the urologist's office is in the next building to the MRI, so if I went for the pee test a little early, I could still be zapped on time, except that I had not drunk nearly enough this morning to give a good account of myself, there.

So, as I listened to the droning litany of how the account error must have been my fault until I proved otherwise, I dressed, gasping in pain as I tried to get jeans on and tie my shoes with my bad hip. I wonder if, during the few moments the Disservice Rep was listening, rather than talking, she thought I was breathing heavy at her? I then chugged down another cup of too-hot coffee. It was still not enough liquid, but would have to do, as the time was now 9:13.

Leaping into Alice, my newly repaired Lunar Module, I tore across town, and dashed into the urologists office. Yeah, everything did come out alright.

From there, it was to the outpatient admitting desk at Clearfield Hospital.

I was dressed in one of those speckled light gray T-shirts, and blue jeans. A man walking down the hall toward me was dressed the same, but with a baseball cap. Another guy walked aroung the corner dressed the same, except with a different cap. I glanced into the waiting room, where a hefty young man was sitting, in a speckled gray T and bluejeans, with yet a different baseball cap.

I remarked to the admitting clerk that I must be out of uniform, since I had no cap, but she just looked at me without understanding. So, I handed my MRI scrip to the clerk, and saw, for the first time, out of the corner of my eye, that the symptom for which the doctor had scheduled the test was listed as 'radiculopathy.' I read this as Radical Apathy and started to laugh. The admitting clerk looked at me without understanding, but a slight touch of fear.

'P-please go have a seat in the waiting room,' she quavered.

As I was slowly forcing my hip to bend in order to sit, they called my name. I pushed myself back up, and walked to the desk. The clerk, leaning back in her chair, staying out of reach, said 'B-booth Three'.

Apparently she had already warned the other clerk, and when I asked for a copy of the scrip, just so I could show my family that I was in for Radical Apathy, she carefully explained that it was an 'o' rather than an 'a'. I carefully explained the concept of an oxymoron. I think she was offended.

I walked on down the hall toward the lab desk (yes, that is three desks, so far). As I got close, I realized that it was the same nurse who had vampired me 2 weeks ago. I stopped in front of the desk, and in my best stoned California surfer voice said, 'Whoa! Deja Vu, Man.' It took her a moment, but then she recognized me and laughed. Finally! A nurse with a sense of humor.

I handed her my papers, and she told me to have a seat (sob). I had not brought my glasses, and so could not read any of the Complete Works Of People Magazine which covered the shelves, so instead I watched Rachel Ray making something she called 'Thickened Chicken Soup'. Pretty much the same as my chicken & gravy with veggies, except for the addition of parsnips, which I will try next time.

Then they called my name.

There were three pleasant-looking ladies standing around the fourth desk. One of them saw the logo on my T-shirt and asked if I worked there. She pronounced it wrong, but that is not uncommon.

There are hundreds of tales of immigrants to the US who passed through Ellis Island and had their names changed forever by lazy, illiterate or uncaring clerks. Well, I think my employer's family had the opposite, as their name was rendered not only unspellable, but unpronounceable by any normal rules of grammar, and you all know how tough grammy is about her rules.

One of the women asked a series of medical questions, and after I'd answered no to all, she turned a form on the desk toward me and reached down to 'X' the line where I was to sign.

'NO!' I said, 'please don't 'X' that.' That is one of my pet peeves. If a person can read, then they can find the line for themselves, if they cannot read, then they should not be signing, anyway.

'I know you are trained to do that,' I said, 'because this is, after all, a post-literate society. But, I am at war with the forces of illiteracy. Ah kin read!' She got it, and laughed a bit, so I was now two for four.

OK, this was my first MRI. But I have to say that I've already discerned the actual purpose of the device. It is not, in fact a diagnostic tool.

What it is is a device designed to test the limits of humans ability to withstand a series of seemingly endless electronic noises, perhaps some clandestine research into non-lethal crowd control weapons to be used when Americans finally rise up again.

The very first noises were a set of notes that sounded like a skipping record playing the intro to something by Gary Numan over and over and over and . . .

The next were worse.

Enclosed in a tiny tube, with no escape and no respite except for a few seconds at a time when the platform would move me a few millimeters, then the sounds would begin again, repeating and repeating. Some were almost musical, some were merely strange, like the one that sounded exactly like a movie robot voice endlessly repeating 'question,question,question.'

There are two main types of science fiction dystopia. The first is the 'Blade Runner' or 'Thunderdome' sort. Filth, grime, crime, and grunge, with humanity reduced to snarling animals battling over the last scraps.

The second type is worse, to my mind. Typified by movies like 'Logans Run' or 'THX 1138,' these are societies where humans are numbers at best, controlled by high-tech devices they live out meaningless lives, with no hope of anything different. MRI's fit into this category.

After 30 minutes, or hours, a new sound began. I felt it before I heard it, vibrating in the fillings of my teeth, bouncing around the inside of my skull like some inhuman dance music, it went on and on.

After a few days of this, I could feel my eyes begin to bulge from the pressure waves bouncing back and forth inside my head. They kept getting stronger. My head began thrashing, involuntarily, side to side within the confines of the strange saddle-shaped pillow that enclosed it

Finally, unable to do anything else, I squeezed the panic button.

A quiet, gentle human female voice came through the speaker above my head, 'We're almost done, only 20 more seconds!' I moaned and lay back until the sounds finally stopped.

They got me out, and helped me to stand, my ears still ringing from the final sound.

If anyone ever wants to control me, all they need to do is to play that sound, and I will do whatever they say.

As I walked in the back door at home, my mother handed me a letter with the return address;

National Imaging Associates
Phoenix, AZ 85008

It was an approval for me to have an MRI done.

Posted by guest author: Dances With Typos on Jul 06, 2009 11:41 am

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