A few months back I’m pretty sure I cracked a tooth, or to be more specific I’m pretty sure I re-cracked a tooth that I had fixed about a decade ago. It only caused minimal and occasional discomfort and could be easily ignored. We seem, currently, to have slowly worked our way past discomfort and are edging into the legitimate pain category. I’m going to go ahead and blame the sudden appearance of cold weather since it appears to be introduction of cold air that’s set off the sensation of someone occasionally jamming a teeny tiny ice pick into my jaw.
This, of course, is where my problem starts. You see it’s not so much that I’m afraid of the dentist, per se. The one’s I’ve met seem like decent enough human beings and individually are not a fear-educing bunch. I am, however, entirely and completely in favor of avoiding pain for as long as possible. This, unfortunately, has now caused me a dilemma. At some point in the near future this untreated tooth is going to start being more than an occasional discomfort. That may be weeks or months from now. An appointment at my local dentist is a guarantee of pain and a sure and certain time. It’s one of the few occasions in life where I generally prefer the unknown future to the known.
Yes, I know this is a ridiculous approach towards dental health. Yes, I know I should have had it taken care of months ago. Yes, I know it’s utterly out of character for a guy who thrives on adding things to a list and getting them knocked off as quickly as possible. I’m unpredictable like that.
I also know that the last three times I’ve walked into a dentist’s office for anything more than a cleaning I’ve walked out chewing on a couple of thousand dollars worth of bills to pay. Pain in the mouth. Pain in the wallet. Completely ridiculous or not, there’s no doubt in my own head why my approach to “modern, painless” dentistry is so often avoidance.
1. No phone. While I don’t consider myself an “addict”, most of my life is tied up on my iPhone – names, numbers, calendars, messaging apps, and basically all the things that one uses to keep track of the modern world. Finding myself without it ranges from a minor annoyance to utterly intolerable depending on what I happen to be trying to do at any given moment. If anyone needs me I’ll be spending the next few days trying to replace the capabilities of my iPhone using an archaic and problem-prone laptop with a connection to the internet that’s suspect at best. Might as well be living in 1989 like some kind of barbarian.
2. The plight of the tenants. Washington Post article about the sad story of tenants who are evicted… after “only” not paying some part of the rent, doing it, repeatedly, or committing other violations of the lease agreement. That’s well and good, and my heart bleeds for them, but for the love of pete, when a few paragraphs later I read that 98% of one of these people’s rent was being subsidized and they couldn’t come up with the remaining 2% I’m kind of out of sympathy. Rentals don’t maintain themselves. Tenants cause fair wear and tear in addition to often more wanton destruction. It all takes money to correct and restore to rentable condition. It strikes me that the people who are most often taken in by these sad tales of renter woe have never had the experience of being a landlord with their own bills to cover.
3. Anti-punctuality. When I tell you I’m going to cal at three o’clock, that’s exactly when I’m going to call. It won’t be “around 3:00,” or “three-ish.” It will be three o’clock. For good or bad my mind puts a premium on punctuality. It’s important if for no other reason than to demonstrate that you are taking the other person seriously. Lack of it, especially in a situation where I am going to be spending thousands of dollars with your company, makes me question your professionalism and the future of our potential business relationship.
I won’t presume to speak for all the vast sweep of humanity, but sometimes I just hit a point in the day where no amount of additional effort is going to create any significant gains. It’s like trying to accelerate to the speed of light. Getting close is easy enough if you’ve got the right equipment, but getting that last little punch of speed requires the application of infinitely more energy. The problem being, of course, that it’s (under our current understanding of how the universe works) impossible to supply any system with infinite energy.
I hit just such a wall at 2:56 this afternoon. I mean I just hit a spot in the day that I couldn’t power through no matter how much coffee or sugar I poured into the system. My brain laid down a very clear line of demarcation, letting me know that I’d go no further. Maybe with a little more time I could have found a way to circle around and come at the day from a different angle, but with end of the day closing in, a new avenue of approach wasn’t really an option anyway.
Under the circumstances, the only thing to do was stiffen my upper lip and ride through the last hour of the day trying not to make waves or get noticed. My brain just wouldn’t answer the helm this afternoon and for a guy who pays the bills based on what the ol’ brain box puts out, it’s damned humbling experience. I’m going to write it off to being a problem transitioning to Daylight Saving Time and not as a harbinger of a God awful week waiting to happen. Check back with me on Friday to see how well that theory holds up.
The trouble with being away from work for the better part of a week is that if you want to keep getting paid on a regular basis, you have to go back eventually. If I’m honest with you and myself, it was exhausting. Not in that way that you’re tired after a long day of chopping wood or being physically engaged, but in that very special way that leaves your brain feeling like it’s turned to jell that could ooze out your ear at any moment. Today was definitely a day like that.
I keep telling myself that it’s just a matter of getting back into the swing of things, but even while the joy of time off is still fresh in my mind I know that’s not really true. As I’m sitting here bashing at the keyboard, flanked by a steaming mug of fresh coffee, a few good ideas, and a couple of dogs, I know it’s not true at all. At best I’ll muck through tomorrow, the day after, and the ones that follow so I can get back to doing this as quickly as possible.
But hey, I like eating something other than Top Ramen and there are bills to pay, so before the sun’s up tomorrow I’ll be back at it. Maybe not with a spring in my step or a song in my heart, but sometimes just going back has to be good enough. Sometimes that’s the best you’ve got.
Well, I hope to be leaving the vet soon with a bag full of anti-inflammatory and pain meds, a few steroids, and a referral to a veterinary orthopedic surgeon over at the University of Delaware. Currently $500 worth of diagnosis seems to indicate that Winston has a torn ACL and pretty much has to have surgery to correct it.
Honest to God the only thing keeping me from launching into an incredibly violent stream of curses is that rather fetching blonde receptionist sitting on the other side of the room. I’d really just like to find a nice solid surface and bash my head against it repeatedly at this point.
Any feedback from you dog people out there who have done the ACL surgery is very, very welcome.
The problem with tax refunds is they take all year to accru and a grand total of 96 hours to spend. I’ve got to admit that I was a bit overzealous at paying off a few move related bills that had been hanging out there for a while, and added a few new pieces of kit to my electronics and accessories collection, but still, it feels like it should have lasted longer than it did. There’s exactly $500 left over earmarked to bail my truck out of the body shop on Friday, but other than that, we’re back to the regular monthly budget. I seem to vaguely remember when my tax refund was considered “fun” money. Maybe I just imagined that, though.
I think one of the most unpleasant aspects of being an adult that no one bother to warn you about when you were a kid is that the sums of money that seemed mind boggling and unattainable when you got your first job flipping burgers will very quickly become just what it takes to get by and maybe stash a bit aside for the future. My definition or “rich” and “making good money” have certainly changed in the last fifteen years, regardless of what the Governor of Maryland wants me to believe. I know paying the bills is the “right” thing to do, but damn, there just isn’t much fun in it.
I picked up the mail this afternoon and seeing a letter from Delmarva Power, opened it assuming it was a bill for having the service turned on or for a partial first month. I was, of course, wrong. It was a “final notice” to the previous tenant. A final notice in the amount of $2,141 and change. Seriously? Two questions come immediately to mind… 1) How exactly does someone rack up a $2000 electric bill and 2) Why does Delmarva Power let someone rack up a $2000 bill? At first I was angry as a customer, because this is the kind of irresponsible deadbeat that everyone who bothers to pay their bills ends up paying for in the end… because lets face it, the power company is going to get their money one way or another.
After my moment of capitalist outrage, I had a brief flicked of understanding about why the property manager seemed to be so blasé about getting things done to the house. If they stuck the power company with that kind of bill, how much back rent did they owe? The natural expectations would be that after getting hosed the first time, the next tenant would pull the same act so deferring maintenance would almost seem natural. As a landlord, I can relate to that feeling. As a tenant, though, I know I’m going to pay my bills passing sympathy I had for the landlord and property manager evaporated quickly enough.
There’s plenty of backstory to go along with this, but for the moment, we’ll just say that the property manager is supposed to be here tomorrow to start addressing the laundry list I sent the owner yesterday. One or both of them is probably pissed off about this situation, but I doubt there in the same league of peeved that I’ve been in for the last few days. We’ll see how it goes.