Unlike some so-called modern males, I never have had the desire to get in touch with my feminine side.
My philosophy, kind of a Venus-and-Mars one, is that while we all occupy the same space in the universe, women do their thing and men do theirs. I do believe a female should be able to pursue a male-dominated occupation if that’s what her heart desires, and a man should have the same leeway.
But I also think people should be who they are first and foremost. And there’s no logic behind a “real” man trying to be anything other than what he is: a meat-eating, football-watching, hunting-and-fishing, red-blooded American male, if that’s the case.
However, my perspective along those lines was tested earlier this week by, of all things, a visit to the dentist’s office. I had been there for a checkup in early January, but didn’t pay my bill because I was waiting for my new insurance card to come in the mail.
When I got the coveted dental card, without really looking at it carefully, I trekked to the dentist’s office and presented it proudly. But there was a hitch. After the friendly employee there began typing all my information into the computer, which seemed to take forever, a frown crossed her previously smiling face. “Do you realize the name is wrong on your card?” she asked.
“Now how can anyone misspell or otherwise screw up Tom Joyce?” was the thought immediately crossing my mind, even though my actual first name (Thomas) was used.
So she showed me. Instead of Thomas Joyce, the card plainly read Joyce Thomas. “Well, it’s one of those things where they list your last name first,” I countered.
“Nope,” she said, informing me that if this were the case, there would be a comma between the Joyce and Thomas.
“Can’t you just turn it in anyway?” I said regarding my claim.
“No, they’ll just spit it back out,” she said, which I thought was kind of appropriate coming from a dental office employee. “It’ll just cause a big mess.”
Dejectedly with card in hand and still having an $88 expense hanging over my head, I returned to The Mount Airy News office and put in a call to the customer service number it listed to ask, “Whut Up?”
A friendly lady with the insurance company put me on hold when I explained the problem. Finally after she checked the records and got back on the line, she informed me that the home office of my company, when sending the names of those to be issued new insurance cards, had indeed listed me as Joyce Thomas.
(This had happened before, when — after signing up to run in a 5K race — I received a pink T-shirt in my registration packet and later could have walked away with a trophy as top female finisher if I’d played my cards right.)
And not only was my dental card mislabeled in this latest case of mistaken identity, but also my regular medical insurance card and one for a vision plan.
The woman at the insurance office advised me to call the human resources department of my company and get it to send the correct information to the insurance provider, which then could issue new cards to me.
Sure enough, I did call our HR department, and after the friendly woman there quit laughing, she promised to straighten out everything. She checked my records and found that, yes, I had completed the forms properly and put my first and last names in the right places. Only when someone sent the information to the insurance company, they had me down as a female named Joyce Thomas.
Now this whole incident was good for a few laughs around the office, but it did call to mind a serious issue regarding our health-care system these days. It just goes to show that even when you do everything right there can still be problems, because we have all been reduced to a bunch of numbers on forms and entries in computers.
And, at least in my case, when we ARE referred to by our names, that information can be wrong.
What it boils down to is I have had to spend hours dealing with a problem, one that’s caused me more than a few headaches, which wasn’t my fault. Filing insurance claims shouldn’t be this much of a hassle.
Now I’m back to Square One as far as having my new insurance cards arrive in the mail, after waiting what seemed like forever for them to get here in the first place.
Meanwhile, the deduction of insurance premiums from my paychecks has occurred with lightning efficiency.
I suppose the corrected cards will come one day in a galaxy far, far away, and all will be right with the world once again.
And at least then I can be assured that there won’t be any problem with my next gynecology exam!
Tom Joyce is a staff reporter for The Mount Airy News. He can be reached at 719-1924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.