I have been generally quiet these past few months about Dad. Out of respect for him and his privacy.
But, let’s be honest: a mouth as loud as mine can only be still for just so long.
Today’s events are par for the course for so many of us. We try to preserve our parents’ dignity, by putting cash and credit cards in their pockets and remotely monitoring the financial doings, ready to step in at any sign of trouble. We also hire lovely, underpaid people to handle our parents so that we don’t have to give up our lives to care for them. One such lovely person left Dad alone for 10 minutes while she changed over the laundry. He didn’t leave the apartment (thank G-d) but when she came back, he was on the phone giving his credit card number to someone.
REALLY, Dad? Really, Heather? Heather, can you just take him with you to the laundry room? Dad, could you just speed dial your children instead of handing over personal information to anyone who calls?
Ok, Heather invokes the Blogger family data breach protocol, which means she calls the daughter least likely to curse, but also least likely to know what to do. And that sends the cell towers buzzing.
Ring, ring, ring, on my cell. “Hey, [SOB — sister of blogger]!” trying to sound cheery even though I know that a call during the day at the office cannot be good.
Ok. So, Heather calls my sister who calls me. I decide not to call my brother, BOB, because, while creating a national frenzy has some appeal (he lives pretty far away), I have the information to handle the data breach. And why give another person indigestion? [BOB, sorry you are reading this on my blog, but if I told you, in real time, you would have (rightfully) invoked Blogger family LOCKDOWN protocol, and that would have really sucked. Besides, I am redecorating the bunker.]
First credit card: only an endless loop of robotic voices. But I got it cancelled in less than 20 minutes.
I know what you are thinking, Blogger is a rock star. She is making this elder care seem like a walk in the park. And I am so feeling the need to put on my sunglasses on a cloudy day in New York.
Second credit card: Same company. This time a real person. Whoa. This will be a cake walk. I need darker shades because my light is so bright.
“I am sorry, but your information appears nowhere on this account.”
“I have power of attorney. I have had it for years.”
“I am sorry but we need your father on the line.”
After much back and forth about the information on the customer service computer screen and the facts of life, I conference in Dad.
It was the crazy ordeal you would expect. Heather got on the phone to make sure it was ok that Dad was talking on the phone about his credit card. [SOB, she redeemed herself.] Dad did what he needed to do and then hung up.
“Ok, we can cancel this card and issue a new card, but I will have to ask you a few questions.”
I am soooo ready for this. Sunglasses on. Check.
“What are the first three letters of your father’s mother’s maiden name?”
Silence. It had to be right because I used it to cancel the card with robot customer service.
“That is not correct.”
What is this? F#$%ing JEOPARDY?
“Itzik or Itsik. It is my grandmother for Goodness sakes!! Itzik Itzik ITZIK
Itzikkkkkkkkkkkk. Or it could be spelled with an “s” I suppose,” said I meekly.
“And it worked for the efficient robotic customer service that canceled my other [Bank name] card in a snap.“
Yep, I threw it down. Hard. I can be (sort of) charming and then, presto, like a light switch, not so much.
What am I, an idiot? [DO NOT answer.]
“You will have to answer the following [trick] questions so we can verify that your father’s authorization was really to his daughter and you are in fact his daughter and he is in fact the card holder [and totally mess you up and enjoy doing so].”
“I am not charging anything. I am trying to cancel something. But, ok, ask.” I shouldn’t have added that verbal swagger at the end.
What am I, a schmuck? [DO NOT ANSWER.]
“I am sorry but you answered one or more questions WRONG. I will need to conference in a security adviser.”
Brief hold with bad music.
“M’am, I have another person whose job it is to make your day miserable. She will need to speak to your father again to authorize this next level of security.”
Are ya kidding me?
“It would be too confusing for him. Aren’t there super-secret decoder ring-type questions you can ask me?”
“No, m’am. We need to speak to your father.”
“No, you will not.” And hung up.
What am I, the stupidest person ever? [DO NOT ANSWER. ZIP IT. ZIP IT.]
It was too much. I could not say why I needed to cancel the card. I was trying to gloss over my dad’s infirmities. I was trying to protect him. And me.
So, what did I do? I threw my phone against the wall and cursed in frustration.