A Victim of Circumstances

A Victim of Circumstances

Curly of The Three Stooges used to plead plaintively that the mess he was in was due to being a victim of circumstances. It usually just got him a knock on the head or a poke in the eyes.

For baby boomers life seems to be always going in this direction, too. As we age, more and more things happen that we have no control over. It could be a trip due to momentary clumsiness that ends up in a visit to the hospital emergency room. Or all of a sudden the car starts to fall apart and you don’t have enough money to buy even a decent used one without breaking into the retirement income.

It could be the frustration of seeing the next generation in your family tree is not turning out the way you wanted them to. Or all of a sudden people in your age bracket are dropping like flies.

Whom are you gonna blame for all these frustrations? The simple answer is no one. It is what it is. Or you can be like Ma who is fast learning to stand up for herself. When Dad was around, he was the one who drove and did all the important errands. He was the salesman who knew how to sweet talk to people on the phone. If there was a problem with a bill, he would call and correct the situation very calmly.

Ma has three televisions in the house with the customary digital cable connection. This way she can get to watch the Cubs and Bulls regularly, as only a portion of the games are on regular tv. Two are in bedrooms, one in the living room. She hardly ever watches television in the bedroom so they go to waste other than the one or two times a year her grandchildren may come to visit. But, the kids are older now and prefer using a laptop to do whatever. Still, she keeps the connection because you never know.

The other day she gets an invoice for over seventy-five dollars for the month’s rental of the cable connection. That is a lot of money for someone who relies on social security. She calls their customer service department and tells the lady over the phone that she cannot afford to pay such a high bill and wonders if there are any special deals. Then she tells her that maybe this requires talking to a supervisor and she be put in touch with one over the phone. The customer service rep tells Ma that she can help her and that a supervisor is not needed. She then gives her an option on how to eliminate certain channel selections that she never watches on two of the sets and this cuts her bill down by twenty dollars. Ma accepts this as a short term feeling of accomplishment and victory.

Ma never would have done this before. When Dad was in the nursing home all those years, she would rely on me to help her with all her paper work. I still put together her income tax preparation worksheets although there is not much needed to prepare. I helped her glide through the labyrinth of paperwork required by the insurance company for whom Dad sold policies for over thirty-five years in order for her to collect the proceeds.

But now she walks the two blocks back and forth on her own to get new prescription sun glasses. Not bad for a lady with both a reconstructed hip and shoulder. And as I mentioned a week ago, she hitches rides to and from the bakery. Her goal is not to be a victim of anybody’s circumstance.

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