Dixie Peach: March 2009

Cooler than the other side of the pillow.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday Shuffle - Wrap It Up Edition

I can't think about that stupid wheelchair fiasco another day so until they call to have it delivered, I'm putting it out of my mind. Instead, let's just consider the rather unimportant and infinitely more pleasant things to think about.

I'm looking forward to turning the clocks an hour forward this weekend. Not only do I need the extra hours of daylight but my flat needs it as well. We're going to finally get a genuine spring day and I'm going to find an amazing amount of dust I've overlooked for months. I'm at the point where I'm all giddy to start the really gritty parts of spring cleaning. Shame that the giddy feeling won't last until I actually do the cleaning.

My husband bought me a surprise today. It should be delivered tomorrow. He has the crappy week and I get the gift. Tell me I didn't luck out in the spouse department.

Here's what I'm currently knitting:


That's the stitch detail of the leg of a sock I'm knitting. Best part of it? It's the easiest sort of two-color knitting there is short of getting someone else to do it for you.

I'm taking a Flat Stanley for a tour of Magdeburg early next week so I'll have pictures for you. I'd have done it this week but high winds, rain, sleet and snow and a boy made of paper aren't a good mix.

That's it. 'Cept for the shuffle. Hit it, Fletcher.
  1. Satellite Mind - Metric
  2. For Your Love - The Yardbirds
  3. And She Was - Talking Heads
  4. Go Out Tonight - Mando Diao
  5. The Hazards of Love, Part 1 (The Prettiest Whistles Won't Wrestle The Thistles Undone) - The Decemberists
  6. Oh Yoko! - John Lennon
  7. Here She Comes Again - Sasha
  8. Chelsea Dagger - The Fratellis
  9. Mercury Blues - Alan Jackson


Thursday, March 26, 2009

And So We Wait

When you're calling a business that you're already angry with, the last thing you want to have happen is for that businesses' phone to ring eleven times before it's answered but having it happen to us would be par for the course in our little wheelchair delivery adventure.

The young lady who answered wasn't what I'd call pleasant but she was adequate. B told her why he was calling and she put him on hold for three or four minutes while she found out why the delivery wasn't made. When she returned she did say she was "really, really sorry" but the reason why they didn't keep the appointment yesterday was because the wrong wheelchair was delivered. How's that for a I'm-not-a-bit-surprised moment? No word as to whether the wrong wheelchair was ordered or was merely delivered but I'm betting on the former. As for an explanation as to why the company didn't call us yesterday to let us know that they wouldn't be keeping the appointment, one wasn't offered and B, ever one to not rock the boat, didn't ask. He did, however, ask when delivery of the correct wheelchair could be expected and our telephone answering friend, evidently unable to anticipate a question that would surely be asked by a customer, didn't know so it was back on hold with us until she could find out. She told us it would likely be sometime next week and they'd call us with another delivery date.

The entire experience wasn't in the least a fulfilling one. While I didn't want B to scream and curse at the woman or even raise his voice, I did expect him to at least inquire as to why they didn't call us yesterday to say that the wheelchair wouldn't be delivered and that they had mightily inconvenienced us. B merely replied that: A. none of it was likely her fault and B: she did say she was "really, really sorry". As far as I was concerned she became one of the guilty when it took her eleven rings to answer a business phone.

We're going to give them yet one more chance to make this right by us - in other words, before we start calling for the lopping off of heads, B wants possession of the correct wheelchair. I personally believe that getting the manager of this joint involved (it's a locally owned business I believe and one that B has been doing business with for nearly 20 years and until now they'd always been very reliable) can begin now but B sees it differently and why he does is understandable. First, he's German. Germans are used to crappy customer service. I personally believe that excellent customer service freaks them out a little bit and they don't want too much of it. Second, B is not only German, he's from the former East Germany where rocking the boat before you have what you want in hand is definitely a bad idea. Back then if you bitched too much, too early then whoops! That little thing you've had your heart set on? Golly gee, we're not going to be able to get it for you. Sorry! Times have changed and so have the attitudes on boat rocking but once you've grown up with learning to hold your mouth just right to get what you need, it's a hard habit to break.

Once we've gotten B's wheelchair then that's when we'll sit down and write a letter to the management of the medical supply company and let them know exactly what our experience has been. This latest thing? While it made us crazy furious yesterday and can in no way be considered the proper way to treat a customer, it's peanuts compared to the previous months. Yesterday was a lot of the-right-hand-doesn't-know-what-the-left-hand-is-doing. Mistakes like that get made at every business and for us it was simply the simply the last straw. What really needs to be addressed is Herr Julius. That man should never be allowed to handle customers again. He would never return our calls, wouldn't return the calls of the insurance company and he told us out-and-out lies. Said he'd done things he hadn't. Said the insurance company had done things they hadn't. Misled and ignored us and in general made his company look like it's being run by Fred and Barney. That's whose ass I want in a sling. That's whose ass needs to be taking up space in an unemployment line.

By the way - did I mention that two weeks ago a car cut me off in traffic? Nearly took off my bumper? A company car from Vitalzentrum Strehlow.

Yeah. I wasn't surprised either.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Atomic Fury

I'm warning you right now. I am in a seething rage. If you don't want to read a lot of profanity, you should c'mon back another day when I'm not ready to bite ten-penny nails in half.

Last week the medical supply company called to say that B's new wheelchair would be delivered today between noon and 3pm. Yesterday morning they called again to say they needed to change the time and the wheelchair would be delivered between 2pm and 5pm.

As I write this sentence it's 5:53pm and that fucking wheelchair isn't here yet. We've called the medical supply company and hooray! they seem to do one thing correctly! When 5pm rolls around they close their doors and put the recording on their phones that say they've gone home after a long, hard day of being inept!

I wish I could describe how fucking pissed I am but chances are you've been just as pissed at one time or another. I really thought we'd come to the end of the jumping through hoops it evidently requires to get a wheelchair but no - there seems to be something else we've got to do before these turds stick that fraking wheelchair on a van and bring it to our flat. And heaven forbid these turds call us and say "You know, we just can't make that delivery date. Can we reschedule?". That's all it would have taken. Now I simply don't give a shit what their excuse is because at this point the only good reason for not delivering the wheelchair today and not calling to say that they're not showing up would be that the whole damn place burned down.

I simply can't believe that any one company can be so incredibly shitty. I can't believe that they can get away, over and over, with treating us like a pile of crap. Do you know when this nightmare started? August 7, 2008. That's whem Mr. Medical Supply showed up for his first appointment with B so they could discuss what sort of wheelchair he needs. Mr. Medical didn't call us back for ages so after us contacting him again to ask what sort of wheelchairs he had to offer that would fit B, he returned for an appointment with us on September 17, 2008. We had to get a prescription from our doctor and that prescription was dated September 30, 2008 and I mailed it to the medical supply company that same day. We didn't hear back from Mr. Medical Supply - oh fuck it...his name is Herr Julius. I'm sick of hiding his identity. Anyway, Herr Julius didn't call us back to give us any information so B called him on February 9, 2009 to find out if the insurance company had approved the wheelchair B had picked out. As of February 27, 2009 there was still no progress (and as we found out, no file for this case with the insurance company) and it wasn't until we called the insurance company ourselves that we started to get any action. Well, you already know this since I've flogged the hell out of this topic on this blog over the last few weeks. The point is, I think 7 1/2 months of shit-filled customer service is a little too much.

I think what makes me the angriest is that this company gets away with this bullshit. They're dicking around a handicapped man and you know why? Because they can! Because they're really the only game in town if B needs new batteries for his electric wheelchair or needs a new bed. If something has to be maintained, replaced or repaired, we have to call these assholes and be at their mercy and they know it. They don't come right out as say "Fuck you, folks!" but that's exactly what their attitude says.

So Vitalzentrum Strehlow in Magdeburg and Herr Julius and the lady who makes shitty delivery appointments and you delivery guys who didn't show up today I'm not going to give you a "fuck you!" with my attitude. I'm going to say it plainly. Fuck you. Fuck you and your inepitude and your ass sucking customer service and your generally shitty attitude. Fuck you for treating my husband like he's nothing - like he should be grateful to be at your mercy. Fuck you for acting like we should just stand by and beg for any crumbs you may throw us. And God forbid you ever become sick or disabled. God forbid you or someone you love ever has an accident and becomes dependent on people who treat you like you're nothing but a bother. God forbid that anyone, anyone, ever treats you or someone you love with even a fraction of the disinterest and negligence that we've been shown by you.

And you had better hope to fuck that karma is nothing but bullshit.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Can It Be Only a Dream?

The long-awaited push wheelchair for B arrives tomorrow between 2pm and 5pm. I can hardly believe it and don't want to get my hopes up too high before it arrives and I have an opportunity to inspect it.

I can't even imagine what I'll be like if it's the wrong wheelchair. If we have waited six months only to have the wrong wheelchair delivered then someone hide all the sharp objects from me, else I'll be sure to make use of them all.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Shuffle - A Penny Saved Edition

My MIL came over yesterday and during the course of the visit she told us of going to her bank to have some money invested. The money had been in an account at one of the banks B and I use - an account that allows her to get the money at any time and the account is guaranteed but like most savings accounts these days it doesn't pay very much.

B and I don't interfere with how my MIL spends her money or invests it but we do try to keep an eye on where she's putting her money and lend advice when necessary. Late last summer she got the idea to close the checking account she had at the bank she'd used for decades to put it in the same bank that Gerd used. This new checking account would pay her interest and she insists that she doesn't pay any monthly fees for it but I'm not sure that's the case. B and I didn't like the idea of her doing that but hey - it's her money.

We haven't said anything else about her financial decisions until she told us she was going to close the one savings account she had and invest it with the bank where she's got her checking account. B really gave her a look and she quickly said she wouldn't take all of it out but most of it. My MIL told us that she had an appointment with an investment adviser and he was going to help her put this money in a place that would keep it safe, give her ready access to the funds and pay her a little interest - essentially the same damn thing where the money was but whatever.

When my MIL was visiting yesterday she told us the appointment didn't go as she had planned and she didn't think that she would be investing with them after all. First, when she arrived for the appointment she was told that the man with whom she'd made the appointment wasn't there. Instead they had her see some man who my MIL described as looking as though he'd just started shaving yesterday.

Let me break in at this point to describe my last experience with seeing an investment adviser from our bank. It's not possible for B to get to the branch where she works so she comes to visit us at home. A particular investment account's time had run its course and therefore the funds needed to be reinvested so when she came for the appointment she was armed with information about different investment options that would fit our needs - about six different accounts. She had pamphlets and details all printed out, all with little folders - everything tidy and thorough. Our adviser knows our financial situation and our investment goals and so she brought information only for options that would fit within those bounds. In short - she knows what she's doing and when we speak with her I don't become panicky.

Compare this with the experience my MIL had. Her adviser thought it would be a good idea for her to put the money - money where there will not be additional funds added - in an account where most of it would be put into stocks. She'd definitely get more return on her investment if she put most of it in stocks.

I suppose Junior Investment Adviser failed to notice that my MIL will turn 75 years old in about three weeks. Oh yeah. She's got plenty of time to let that fund just grow and grow.

My MIL was also given some written information to take home with her to, one assumes, assist her in making her final decision. It was a piece of paper with part of a corner raggedly torn off. One one side were some figures and percentages scribbled along with some illegible names of some funds. The other side was covered in doodles, presumably made by Junior Investment Adviser - lots of large U-shaped figures with dots or vertical lines covering them. They somewhat resembled wings or perhaps they depicted saggy, poxy breasts.

You know when I'm at home looking over financial information given to me by my banker, nothing instills confidence in my bank more than a doodle strewn piece of scrap paper.

My MIL told Junior that she would like to speak first with her son before making a final decision and after leaving she went around the corner to another bank to make an appointment with them. It's one of the banks B and I use. It's the bank where up until last year my MIL had her checking account and one of her savings accounts. B and I were gracious and refrained from telling her "I told you so!".

Obviously it takes more than one person or even one branch to plunge a bank into financial disarray, especially when that bank has accounts in dozens of countries and hundreds of millions in assets. However, Citibank, in the future you may not want to have employees who disregard appointments and instead send barely-pubescent youngsters out to sell stocks to old women who cannot take any sort of risk of losing their initial investment and who will be pushing up daisies before they make back any money they lose in the stock market - the one that plunges downward every single day, especially since your company name is already mud in every language in which it does business. And Citibank, I know you're hurting for money right now, but could you please buy your employees some paper on which to write serious investment offers? I'm fairly sure that even the worst school of business and economics would tell you that giving financial advice coupled with semi-pornographic doodlings is not the best way to sell your products.

Let's shuffle.
  1. Society's Child - Janis Ian
  2. Lukey - Great Big Sea
  3. Night By Night - Michael Stanley Band
  4. I Wish The Best For You - Emerson Hart
  5. C'mon, C'mon - The Von Bondies
  6. Scenes From An Italian Restaurant - Billy Joel
  7. Southern Cross - Crosby, Stills & Nash
  8. Devoted To You - Everly Brothers
  9. Something's Gone Wrong Again - The Buzzcocks
  10. Family Tree - Loretta Lynn

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Everyone Turn Around. Now Wave.

You're waving at one of my readers, Kerry. Know what's special about Kerry? She speaks English. I know that you speak English too and don't think that speaking English is any great shakes but one thing that Kerry has over you is that she happens to live in Magdeburg. Yeah, there are other English speakers here in Magdeburg but for the most part the only kinds of English speakers I ever run into are college students here at the university on an exchange program, their parents when they come visit their precious American child studying at the university and the occasional Asian or African student who doesn't seem to be able to speak German worth a damn and who are bollocksed up at a shop and they know enough English to have me play translator.

Example: The other week while I was at the confectionery section of the department store buying some chocolates for B there was a young Asian man who was trying to convey to the saleslady that there was a special French chocolate that he was look for. He kept saying it was French and the saleslady couldn't think of a French chocolate they sold. Swiss, yes. Belgian, yes. French, no. She asked him if he could tell her the name of the chocolate and he replied in English "I don't really speak German". A-ha! Time for Super Nosy Translator Lady to horn in. I asked him in English "What's the name of the chocolate?" and when he replied "It's called Merci," I told him there was a whole bunch of it right behind his head and then explained to the saleslady that it was the Merci chocolates he was looking for and that he must have thought they were French chocolates because merci is a French word. The young man and the saleslady were both thankful that I could translate and that he could find what he wanted to buy. I didn't have the heart to tell him he was buying some not-all-that-special German brand chocolate that could be found cheaper at any grocery store in the city.

When speaking English to anyone except my husband is such a treat for me that helping out a young man to buy overpriced chocolate makes my whole day, you can imagine how happy I was to get an email from Kerry. She let me know that she's read my blog and she and her family moved to Magdeburg a couple months ago and she'd like to meet me sometime. Yay!

This will be a good time for me to tell you what it's like for me to meet someone for the first time. Call this an explanation and, if you ever have the opportunity to meet me, a warning as well. When I first meet you I will likely be rather quiet. I will desperately engage in small talk. The weather will be discussed. Traveling to our meeting spot will be discussed. And then at some point - usually when all small talk topics have been exhausted - me and the person I'm meeting will hit upon a topic in which we'll both have some interest in and then I'll be off. I'll be like a house a-fire. I won't talk non-stop...I'm actually pretty good at letting others chime in. I like to think I'm a pretty good listener and I don't believe I dominate conversations. But I'll warn you now - if you don't like to talk, don't bother meeting me.

Just the idea of being able to speak freely in English to someone has made me almost giddy. I can speak English to B whenever I want but there's something about speaking English to a native speaker in person that's even more special.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday Shuffle - Progress! Edition

The wheelchair thing! The endless saga of the new wheelchair! We may finally be reaching the end. Is that light I see?

On Tuesday B called the insurance company's state headquarters in Stendal to speak with the lady who's been trying to get a hold of Mr. Medical Supply. She would call and leave messages for him to call her back and he wouldn't. One thing I'll say for Mr. Medical - he's consistently negligent. This time, however, we gave her the number for his cell phone and I'm sure when she finally reached him it was a conversation to be savored. At any rate, on Wednesday we got a call from the local office of the insurance company to make an appointment to come see B and find out just why he needed a new push wheelchair and why he needed a more expensive than normal one.

Shortly after 9:00am on Thursday the representative from the local insurance office came to our flat and I'll say it now. She was the weirdest woman I've come across in ages. For those of you who live in Germany, I can give you a bit of an idea of what she was like: I opened the door and for a moment I thought she was Cindy aus Marzahn. She wasn't, of course, but dang. And she sounded like her too. Anyway, she came in and B explained to her his reasons for needed this particular wheelchair, which she dutifully wrote down - and then proceeded to start some conversation about fishing for eels on the Baltic Sea. B and I both were sitting there with stuck on smiles and laughing when appropriate but I knew from the look in his eyes and he knew from mine that on the inside all we were thinking was "What in the hell is she going on about? And could she please just leave?". I didn't dare give any indication in any way that I thought she was batshit crazy because hey - we needed her to say to the office in Stendal that they should approve the request.

We must have been convincing because today when B called the lady in Stendal, she said the woman who visited us on Thursday sent the report and it was approved and notification of it had been sent to both us and the medical supply company. All that's left is for them order the wheelchair and have it delivered.

I'm secretly hoping that Mr. Medical Supply will be the one to deliver the wheelchair because making him squirm would absolutely thrill me no end but I don't think he's got a pair big enough to make him show up. In any case, he's not off the hook with us yet. Writing letters to companies to discuss their customer service is something at which I excell and I believe this will be no exception.

There's one last thing I should mention before we drop the subject of this push wheelchair and that's this: we can't get a chest belt for this wheelchair without getting a notarized statement from B that a chest belt for this wheelchair will be put on him with his permission. This chest belt is important because if we're on, say, a streetcar where there could be sudden stops that could make his body go out of balance it would keep him from sliding dangerously from side to side. Or if I'm pulling him up a curb or pushing him over cobblestone - you get the picture. There's one on B's electric wheelchair. However the insurance company told us one can't be put on the new one without this notarized request (and for those of you who don't know this - in Germany only lawyers are notaries) because things like wheelchair seatbelts/chest restraints and side rails on beds can trap in a person against their will and their need to be free superceeds their need to be safe. I then remembered our doctor telling us last year that her MIL slid out of a wheelchair and broke her leg but since she hadn't signed to be restrained in her wheelchair, the nursing home couldn't do anything about it and she would be free to fall out on the floor again. Let's think about this. People in wheelchairs - people who can't walk - need the freedom to get up out of their wheelchairs whenever they want. Okay! So if B wants this chest belt we're going to have truck him down to a lawyer's office to get a notarized statement - and pay a lawyer's hourly fee for it. The upside is that he'll have a new wheelchair to roll down there in. The downside is that he may fall out in the middle of the street while getting there.

We need to shuffle.
  1. Zero - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  2. Under The Blacklight - Rilo Kiley
  3. Somebody To Love - Queen
  4. The Game Of Love - The Mindbenders
  5. Come And Get Your Love - Redbone
  6. Standing In The Way Of Control - Gossip
  7. This Tornado Loves You - Neko Case
  8. Seven More Times - Maria Doyle Kennedy
  9. Tonight - Shooting Star
  10. Leaving On A Jet Plane - Peter, Paul & Mary
Dig all those girls singing.


Monday, March 09, 2009


In the past three weeks I've heard/read from two or three different sources that sleep deprivation is killer. That sleeping only four, five, six hours a night every night is making us cranky, emotionally ill-equipped to handle bad things that happen, fat, diabetic and we don't want to get it on as much. That humans are the only animals that purposely deprive themselves of the proper amount of sleep and that our bodies do not seem to have a way to compensate for lack of sleep. If you're sleep deprived, you're sleep deprived and your body will not learn to adapt.

Yikes! I'm one of those people! I'm always scooting along on about five to six hours of sleep. Sometimes I get seven but that's a lot for me. Here I was all these years thinking that my butt is big because I eat popcorn at midnight. And it is for that reason but the reason I'm eating it is because I'm really sleep deprived. The little hormone that tells your body that you're not hungry? You don't make that hormone when you're sleep deprived hence, popcorn at midnight!

We've somehow fooled ourselves into thinking that sleeping eight to ten hours a night (and the stories I read/heard said that the minimum we should be sleeping is eight hours a night, every night) is a sign of laziness. That's we're not getting the most out of life when we sleep that much and it's a sort of badge of honor to drag through each day after only getting five hours of sleep. What we don't realize though is that we're not doing our best and getting the most out of life and the added stress it's putting on our bodies is aging us faster and making us fatter.

This has explained so much about things in my life that I'm unhappy with. It won't fix everything but I imagine it'll remove some roadblocks that I've let trip me up. I know on those days after I've had a really long sleep I feel so much better and I wonder why I keep staying up too late at night and robbing myself of what I really need.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Friday Shuffle - La-Dee-Dah Edition

My, my...a whole week has slipped by without me bothering to update you on the ins and outs of my life. You didn't miss much. The highlight would have been on Wednesday when I made pancakes for breakfast. Pancakes! On a Wednesday! And it wasn't even a holiday! Unheard of behavior in my house. All hell is breaking loose!

Else not much was different than in other weeks. The Great Wheelchair Replacement Adventure progressed not a lick. There will be a cure for paralysis before B gets this wheelchair.

I want to ride on a boat. I live along a major river. I should just go down to the pier, take one of those river tour cruises that cost fifteen bucks and you can sit there and look at the river and eat bockwurst and drink beer for three hours. Maybe that would cure my malaise. Maybe it would get B his wheelchair faster.

In the meantime, let's shuffle.
  1. A Whiter Shade Of Pale - Annie Lennox
  2. I Love Being Here With You - Queen Latifah
  3. Semi Automatic - The Boxer Rebellion
  4. Sundown - Gordon Lightfoot
  5. Irgendwas Bleibt - Silbermond
  6. Drown - Son Volt
  7. Go All The Way - Raspberries
  8. Working Again - Michael Stanley Band
  9. Old Enough - The Raconteurs
  10. Every Little Thing - Carlene Carter