Through the Cracks

Photo: Gears GrindingI wrote this post a few days back, but stuff like this happens with great frequency in this day and age, I think you’ll agree.

How is it that, in this era of hyper-communication, so little information gets transmitted to the right person at the right time? I’m sitting in the doctor’s waiting room contemplating this, not sure if I’ll get in for a simple annual eye exam that’s a couple of years overdue, because last time I came in this doctor’s office, had supposedly been sent the required referral but it wasn’t in my file. Today, same story. I confirmed my appointment with a person in this office, who assured me that the referral had arrived, over a month ago—yet now it’s “not in my file.”

I got here immediately after listening to my spouse go through an incredibly convoluted and tedious rigamarole on the speaker phone to pay a bill for an account that had long been operating smoothly with automatic payments on the exact same credit card, only to learn that the bank that issued the card (despite owing us on its account at this moment) had refused payment on it. All of the numbers and dates were correct and no reason given for the refusal. So my patient partner had to re-register the very same card for the very same auto-pay system, and because there’s a 30-day wait for such registrations to be confirmed, he also had to make the present payment individually. Even the poor billing department employee walking him through the transaction was so confused by and even embarrassed at the silliness of the mess and how many long pauses on hold it took to unravel it all that he kept trying to make small talk to pass the time before it was resolved.

Meanwhile, at various other points in my quotidian wanderings, I frequently watch bosses make decrees that they would know were impossible to enact or enforce if they only asked the underlings who are expected to perform them. I regularly see parents and children, housemates, siblings, spouses, and others talk at cross (sometimes very cross indeed) purposes, all the while with the deeply held belief that they are offering great wisdom and well-planned solutions, yet never quite hearing each other or considering that the person with whom they should be conversing may have already solved the problem in hand. And I have watched employee-representative committees without number at work when they have neither consulted the employees they supposedly represent for their input, nor told them what is being negotiated, how, why, or with whom.

Anybody else feel like you’re sitting right outside the Cone of Silence from Science Fiction Theater? It’s as though I can see gears turning and mouths moving and messages of obvious importance flying back and forth, but can’t see the text of the communiques, let alone read lips or minds.

I sit and wait. I get agitated and then frustrated. I get so irked and itchy that I have to hunt for clues and try to set things on what I hope will be a clearer and better path. And just when I think I’m getting my pulse back down to a practical pace, the documentation I sent out at yet another company’s request six weeks ago magically disappears into the ether, presumably now sandwiched between the pages of somebody else’s documentation in the middle of their file. I’d ask the company to email or phone me when they locate my materials, but I’m pretty sure that if the message to do so doesn’t also disappear in the meantime, he who took the message will have retired by then and the new guy won’t know what was requested and will pass on the request to yet another trainee, who will in turn bury it in another wrong file for later discovery by a random office cleaner. I’d promise to let you all know how it turns out, but I’ll probably forget, anyhow.

At least I can tell you that after one more phone call today, my doctor’s office did agree to fax the ophthalmologist a repeat of my appointment referral, so I got to visit the eye doctor after all and get my eyeglass prescription updated. Until I get those new lenses, though, I can’t be certain I’ll be able to keep an eye on the prescription slip. So disappears another useful piece of data, drifting through the cracks of the information highway.Photo: Geared Up