“As an employee, the health benefits available to you represent a significant component of your compensation package. As administrator of your Post Employment Health Plan …”
When someone departs without warning and approval, the personal and the perfunctory collide. You are immediately faced with advice of all sorts, forms of all shapes and sizes, clauses and legal jargon. Your body revolts in a melting pot of nausea-sleep-deprived mode of survival and it’s a coin toss – did those 20 pounds vanish from starvation or the newly acquired irritable bowel syndrome that’s on par with a nuclear holocaust?
And suddenly the Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood aren’t so crazy after all.
But you get through it. In your own way and on your own terms.
You reclaim your rebellious body, you put the bottles back on the shelf, and you fill out all those damn forms. But unless you move to Belize and leave no forwarding address, the U.S. postal service and mass marketers everywhere do their best to draw out the Grinch in all of us.
And there’s nothing like daily mail addressed to someone long dead to make you want to push the postal truck off the edge of Mount Crumpet.
Because in between the circulars, newsprint and avalanche of bills is a paper trail I no longer care to follow. Tiffany & Co. Coach. Alumni wishes for the holiday season. Frequent Flyer programs. DirecTV offers to come back home for the holidays. Year-end reminders. White House Black Market. Ann Taylor. Ann Taylor Loft. Nordstrom. Bicycling magazine. MBAA. Life Insurance pitches. Pre-made address labels from St. Jude’s. Year-end summaries from health insurance companies that whose end-of-life/coverage databases are, quite apparently, not synchronized with those “review your health and healthcare benefits” databases. Investment firms, hospice and AARP. Bills. Junk. Special discounts because “We’ve missed you, James!”
And an annual review of healthcare benefits for someone who hasn’t had a pulse in years.
I have expended a considerable amount of time and energy over the years waging war on my mail box. It’s not that I blame them for anything, but delivering the medical examiner’s report on Valentine’s Day? Not cool. The financial mail to those who have never lived at this address but who were connected on some document, somewhere, to my husband festers anew with each trip to the box.
I’ve called the post office. I’ve shown up in person. I’ve unsubscribed. I’ve blocked unwanted recipients. I’ve called the source demanding to know where their list came from. I’ve visited stores in person. I’ve even waited for the mail carrier to arrive. More than once.
“How can I help you?”
“I’m hoping you can help me correct some information on an account.”
“I’d be happy to. How can I help?”
“I’d like to remove my husband’s name from the account profile.”
“To remove him from the account profile, I would need his permission.”
“I’m afraid that won’t be possible. The fact of the matter is that unless he plans on sending me a little blue box from beyond the pearly gates, he hasn’t been checking the mail for quite some time.”
“Oh, I’m very sorry.”
“I would really appreciate your help with this. And I hope you’ll appreciate that after a hundred of these calls, I am no longer screaming like a banshee.”
“Yes, ma’am, I most certainly do.”