Can you see me now?

Hello, my name is Corinne.  I’m an inveterate complainer.

Hi, Corinne.

I’m standing before you, the half-dozen folks who still follow my quest to traverse an uninterrupted span of 365 days complaint-free, to confess that on 03 January 2024, I filed a grievance with my health insurance company regarding care given to me by one of its network providers.  Technically, that constitutes a complaint.  So I’ve already broken my promise.

The last act in the sequence of events happened on 20 December 2023.  I had sixty days within which to file a grievance.  I could have gotten it done before the first of the new year.   My reason for delaying relates to this very blog.  I kept asking myself, If I file a grievance, can I consider my mission once again sabotaged?

A lively debate on this topic ensued in the first months of my journey.  As an active law practitioner at the time (still fully licensed in good standing in the great state of Missouri), I had the professional obligation to advocate for my clients.  I’m also a casual protestor of buildings that pose challenges to those of us with ambulatory impairments.  Continuing both pursuits seemed acceptable, even ethically mandated if not critical for my livelihood in the first instance.  My early readers gave me a pass and I allowed those exceptions to my rules.

Thus far my journey has spanned ten years.  I have yet to meet my goal.  In this decade, I have navigated many personal challenges, though none that I consider catastrophic.  To borrow from Singer, “No little children have died from this.”  No bombs fall on my village.  Yet I’ve been strained.  While my outlook continues to improve, I still grouse at everyday annoyances though more jovially; and I still find myself shaking my proverbial fist at the possibly real divine entity who might or might not exist and who, if real, certainly has a wicked sense of humor.

So — for the last two weeks, I have reflected on whether I should pursue the situation regarding this provider, an eye care clinic in the Bay area who shall mercifully go nameless here.  I’m out some actual money and have nothing to show for it except yet another pair of incorrectly prescribed and poorly made glasses.  I’ve wasted another year trying to find effective and reliable vision care.  I endured misogynistic conduct by one of the clinic’s employees which I felt compelled to tolerate on two occasions as I tried to force the square peg of inadequacy into the round hole of necessity.  The clinic promised a refund for the glasses copay, and then demanded a full release in exchange for it which I declined to give.  We reached a stalemate.  They admitted inability; I refused to accord a full-scale waiver for the mere tender of my co-pay for the glasses, which, given my terrible prescription, amounted to five-hundred dollars even with vision insurance. 

If they had not offered the refund and then demanded the release after the offer as a condition, I might have just taken the refund and gone away.  But more seemed at stake.  I had dedicated seven months to my effort to receive the specialty care for which I had been referred to the place.  I had spent two overnights in the Bay area to be on time for early morning appointments.  I endured the arm-pats of their male employee who kept telling me that I should not ask any questions of him because he had two decades of experience.  I watched another staff member roll their eyes while I carefully articulated factual accounts of my issues.  I had a staggering moment of grim clarity when one of their doctors said, and I quote, “I’m just going to pick a prescription halfway between your [six-year-old glasses] and the second of the two different readings that I got today.”  Forget the first pair of glasses that they made from their first prescription — made incorrectly, by their admission, and not the right prescription by my judgment as I could not see with them.

Exhaustion ruled.  I strained to keep a level head, a civil voice, and a calm demeanor.  For the most part, I succeeded by keeping much of my communication via email so that I could edit before transmission and circumvent the twin bogeymen of voice tone and facial expression.  When my efforts failed on the horns of their last-minute demand for a full waiver and release in exchange for the mere tender of the copay, I found myself thinking, What would Marshall Rosenberg do?  I asked myself if their demand for a release fell into the category of reasonableness, reflecting from the dispassionate voice of an attorney.  I answered the question in the negative. 

They offered a refund for my co-pay portion of the glasses that they originally had pledged to remake.  The co-pay issue solely addressed one facet of the experience.  Had they not demanded a release, I probably would have let the entire sorry episode fall into the annals of history.  But the behavior of their staff, the dismissiveness of the head doctor in my discussions with him, and the bottom line consideration of future, less savvy patients combined to suggest that the entire situation fell into the original exceptions to the structure of this pursuit.  By filing a grievance, I might expose their conduct and protect future, less informed consumers from the same treatment.

Or so I reason.  What say you?  Can you see me now?  Am I in focus?  Or did I just deftly and implausibly justify my own failure to honor my moral undertaking?  As they say on YouTube, comment below.  I’m all ears.

It’s the fifth day of the one-hundred and twenty-first month of My [Endless] Year [Trying to Live] Without Complaining.  Life continues.




2 thoughts on “Can you see me now?

  1. jessica corley

    okay well, I would say that complaining and making a legitimate grievance are not the same thing at all. Saying you have been unsuccessful every year in your endeavor to be complaint-free is erroneous thinking in my mind. Complaining is an act of inaction! Fight the man, as they say, every step of the way.


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