Monday, May 20, 2013

Just General Complaining

So, I got a letter Saturday.  From Farmers Auto Insurance.  Gosh, they want me.  They really want me.

It's not the first "come back to the dark side" letter I've gotten from them.  No, over the past ten years or so, they've really wasted a lot of wood pulp trying to draw me in.  

That, of course, will NEVER happen.

Why not?

Well, see, it all started back in 1993.  My husband and I had been insured through Farmers for a few years.  Really liked our agent, what a guy!  

And then I had an accident.

Understand, I wasn't driving.  I was, in fact, a passenger in my own car.  See, I'd had a beer, so I handed my keys over to a friend's roommate who hadn't been drinking.  And he wrapped my car around a tree going 60+ mph.  

I was injured (though, oddly, the guy behind the wheel wasn't).  Closed head injury, massive facial fractures, disk damage (again!), etc.  Pissed blood for a week from the lap belt hammering my bladder.  That was exciting.  

It's funny--I had no health insurance, and so, while in the ER, I refused the offer of a cosmetic surgeon to stitch up the gory hole where bone and cartilage from my nose had blasted out the front of my face upon meeting the dashboard.  Instead, I opted to have the ER physician do it because it was cheaper.  

Silly me.

My agent immediately told me not to file a claim for the car--he said that the adjusters would "total" it and that, as a result, I'd wind up owing more on the car than they would give me, which would leave me "in trouble" with the bank AND without insurance.  That sounded scary to me.  Being brain damaged, I deferred to his superior knowledge.  I didn't make a claim for the car.

When the medical adjuster came, she took one look at my face, said, "Ohhhh, honey--that's ten grand."  Nice, huh?  Then she said that the car looked perfect, was it a different 1973 Mustang we'd wrapped around a tree?"  I took her outside, showed her that the car only looked perfect from behind--the front end was demolished.  Bumper horseshoed, battery exploded, core support torn to bits, radiator gone, frame bent, fenders tweaked inward, water pump, alternator, all that fun stuff destroyed.  Oh, and the hood bent back like an accordion and the windshield shattered.  She asked when the auto adjuster was coming out, and I told her what my agent had said.

And oh, she was angry.  She said it was (and this is a direct quote) "self-serving bullshit."  She said that my agent was tugging me around in hopes of preserving his bottom-line, but that, fact was, Farmers was going to drop me like a bad habit no matter WHAT I did, so I should put in a claim for the car.  She called the adjuster, and that was that.

Turns out, she was absolutely right.  Auto adjuster came out, did everything he could to make sure I got enough for the car to either repair it or pay off the loan, plus cut me a check to buy a new car (when I say that, I mean a 2 grand check for a 1975 Camaro, lol) so I could keep my job (which I lost because my smashed up face was "scaring the customers"--thanks Ziad and Fahdi).  And then?

And then, my insurance company tripled my rates.  And when I complained?  They dropped me.  Told me I had two weeks to find another agency, because they were done with me.  

My first claim. 

In addition, they put the word out that I was a terrible risk--this according to the gentleman at Allstate who was willing to cover me (flat liability) for twice Farmers' pre-accident rates (full coverage, collision+comprehensive with towing and rental). 

Farmers smacked me so hard I bled for years.  It was years before I could get a decent rate for car insurance again.  They left me in the lurch when I was most vulnerable.  They promised to pay for my facial reconstructive surgery, but then, when my surgeon submitted the bill, they refused.  Said I had already settled and that wasn't part of the settlement because it hadn't been submitted in time. Even though they had told me clearly that the surgery would be covered.

Should I have gotten an attorney before settling?  Absolutely.  But, as they're trained to do, they patted me and hand-held me and made me feel like they really had my best interests at heart.  


Farmers wants me?  They want my business?

When hell freezes over, kids.  Not one second before.

Not actually MY 'Stang, but an example of the year--imagine silver pre-accident, and deep green post.

So, my boy and I sort of tangled yesterday.  Or, to be more precise, he said something awful, and when I realized he wasn't joking, I cried.  

What happened?

Well, I was reading Deathly Hallows aloud to him when we got to the . . . oh, shoot, hang on.


Seriously, if you haven't read the Harry Potter series in its entirety, turn back NOW.

Okay.  So we were reading Deathly Hallows, and we got to the part where Harry has just finished exploring Snape's memories in the penseive and learned that he is meant to die.  That he must die in order for the horcruxes to be destroyed and Voldemort to be mortal once more.  I paused, and said, "I don't know if I could do it.  I don't know if I could walk to my death like that--I might run the other way, I don't know."  My son said, with that adolescent moral certainty borne of almost zero life experience, "Some things are worth dying for."  I said, "True, and it's wonderful you think that, but in that situation, at that age, I don't know if I could do it--I might run."  And he said?  In a flat, condemning, disdainful tone?

"Then you're a coward."

Wow.  Wow, sweetie.

Needless to say, it was the end of the reading session.  We talked at length later, and, if nothing else, he's taken away one lesson I hope he really takes to heart--think about the effect your words are going to have before you spit them out, because once you do, they're unrecallable.  Ballistic.  So next time, before you throw out a harsh condemnation over someone's musing over a fictional hypothetical set in a magical fantasy world, consider the possible effect your words will have.  

Because that was pretty devastating to me.


Been watching a lot of documentaries lately, most on food and food production in the United States, but last night we watched one called "The Revisionaries," about those scary, stupid people down on the Texas School Board, and their sick and terrifying methods of editing text books and rewriting history to focus on (and forward) their own particular (and peculiar) political and religious leanings.  What on EARTH is a "young earth creationist" doing editing text books?  In a public school setting?  WHY on earth are people with no grasp of science deciding what science is taught and how it's taught?  Ew!  EW!  To hear these stupid people rail against "experts" is terrifying.  How do people who demonize scientists, experts, the scientifically literate, wind up in the position of determining what goes into science textbooks?

Reason 4,566 why we homeschool.  To keep those nutbags in Texas out of our child's mind and out of his science and social studies education.  

It was hard to refrain from throwing things.  


Speaking of homeschooling, saw a bit in the paper this morning about Ogden City Schools--the district our boy would have attended, had we chosen that route.  It was a story about a girl who's been told she cannot walk across that stage to get her diploma unless her family coughs up hundreds of dollars to pay for "unexcused absences and 'U' Citizenship grades."

Okay, a few things.  

One?  If she has so many absences that it's negatively affected her ability to earn the required credits, then she can't graduate because she's short on credits.  If she managed to do the work required to graduate, then shut up about her attendance and let her walk with her class.  

And two?  "Citizenship" grades are a BS concept whose time had passed about the time the entire idea was dreamed up.  Subjective, without constructive usefulness, and often a tool for teachers to enforce a morality or express disapproval in a way that, apparently, damages the child in a very real way.  If the child is disruptive, if the child's behavior is such that it makes teaching impossible, send the child to the office for discipline rather than making a snotty little mark in a snotty little grudge book and then screwing that kid up down the road with FINES.


This reeks of yet another way for bad, lazy school districts (and yes, there was a reason we homeschooled in the first place) to rake in a little cash and use a punishment/pain model to induce compliance.  If the kid earned the grades and the credits to receive a diploma (and that's not in question--this girl and others like here will receive their diplomas . . . in the mail), then you let that kid walk.  The pettiness of denying a child/young adult their walk across that stage because they can't pay the "citizenship" fines you've assessed?


And the district's assertion that assessing these fees is "legal" until someone takes them to court and successfully argues against the practice?  Well, that hardly seems like a good definition of "right."  

Remember--this is the same school district that just nuked its entire adult education program, plus fired all but two of its librarians in order to save itself paying out benefits to those employees.  The adult ed program has been replaced with . . . nothing.  Another school district is going to try to take up the slack.  And the librarians?  The two left will supervise a cadre of "part time media assistants" who won't be working enough hours to earn benefits.  

Yeah, it's like the Walmart model of employment.

Oh, and this is also the same district that just told over 250 part-time reading coaches that their positions have been eliminated BUT that they're free to reapply for the few "restructured" positions that will be announced down the line.

You know, it really does look like the district has been infiltrated by wingnuts, doesn't it?

Maybe they should keep assessing those "citizenship" fines.  Otherwise, how will they pay for . . . whatever it is they actually do down there?


And here's something ugly because . . . well, because I think I could use more pictures in this one, liven things up:

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