Saturday, May 10, 2008

Another Shitbiscuit

So now we wait. It’s only a matter of days now and could happen any minute. I’m not having any real signs of labor aside from more intense Braxton-Hicks contractions and have taken to doing as many activities as possible that involve sitting with my feet up: Eating Lucky Charms; eating a Chipwich; messing around on the computer; watching the TV; eating a Chipwich; fielding a jillion phone calls (“Are you STILL pregnant?”); and of course, eating a Chipwich.

And just so the Universe is sure I am kept on my toes, I get a call from my gyno’s office Thursday afternoon, four days before I am due to pump a chil’ren out into the world: Their office had been robbed that day. A nurse’s purse and checkbook were taken, along with 18 medical charts that were sitting out for the next day’s appointments. Mine was one of them. So not only does some nameless, faceless, chicken-shit asshole have my entire vaginal and reproductive history, but my address, social security number, date of birth, insurance info, you name it.

To say I did not react well would be kind of an understatement. Pregnancy is a very vulnerable time for even the most bad-ass of us women. I’m a pretty tough L.A. chick who does not adopt a victim stance in any situation. I consider myself to be pretty street-wise and I don’t put myself into compromising situations.

But this is a strange time in a woman’s life. Not only are you in a hyper-vigilant state because of the life you are nurturing inside you, but you are physically weaker, unbelievably tired, and waaaaaay more emotional than usual due to hormones and feeling out of control of your own body and mind.

Add to this the fact that there are a lot of sick puppies out there who do terrible things to children and to pregnant women, the knowledge of which is difficult to escape when the stories are all over the news and even entire shows are dedicated to such crimes on the crime and court TV channels and such. You can only filter out so much of reality, but some of it still seeps in and keeps you up at night. Because of this vulnerability, home security takes on a whole new meaning in a pregnant woman’s life. And when that security is messed with, it’s not difficult to completely lose it.

A couple of weeks ago, our alarm system was set off by accident and neither Derek nor I received a call from Protection One asking if they should send the police. When I called them to ask why, they informed me that we had changed the primary contact numbers several months ago. They rattled off two phone numbers I have never had nor even heard of in my life. As the maddening conversation with this “customer service” person went on, it became clear that Protection One had made some sort of clerical error with our account, and it was rectified and our correct contact numbers placed back on the account. I’m always saying it is extremely rare to find someone who does their job meticulously well anymore. I’m like Mr. Hand from Fast Times: “Are you people all on dope?” I am convinced that everyone in customer service is medicated, mentally-challenged, just doesn’t give a crap, or all three. Rare is the person you can get on the phone who comprehends the problem and knows what they’re doing, and can execute an efficient resolution. And this point was proven even in the security business, where being extremely detail-oriented is of extreme importance. So it was a stupid clerical error -- it's really no surprise.

But I was hysterical. What if the alarm hadn’t been set off by accident, but by another thieving asshole? As some of you may remember from a year and a half ago, we only have this alarm system in the first place because we have had our house broken into before and several important items stolen, not the least of which was our computer with a ton of irreplaceable personal photos and information on it. At the time, my only solace was to remind myself that they had not harmed my dogs, who were locked in the backyard and thus, unable to defend their house. You dickheads can take whatever stupid material things you like, just don’t touch my loved ones.

But the sense of being raped and blatantly pirated was devastating. Some stranger of God-knows-what origin had seen fit to invade our home, take whatever they wanted, look at our faces and those of our family and friends in our pictures, see where we sleep, what we ate for breakfast, what kind of toothpaste we use. The outrage you feel in that situation is indescribable. And it had all happened in broad daylight while we were at our jobs, trying to earn a living.

And here I was, faced with that icky, powerless feeling again. Somebody has stormed in and taken what is rightfully mine on the eve of the most important event in my life – bringing my first child into the world. Seriously, WTF?? Who the hell does this to people? What happens to them in life that this is an acceptable solution to a money shortage?

Of course I placed the fraud alert with the credit reporting agencies and with my health insurance and so forth. Had a good “Why Me?” cry on Derek and my girls. But where is the lesson in all this? I used to enjoy being the person who would walk the dogs and leave all the doors and windows unlocked. I never looked over my shoulder at the gardener or worker on the street I didn’t recognize. I freely gave out my social security number when I visited a health practitioner and didn’t think twice about it. Is the lesson here that I am too trusting? That trust is bad? I hardly think so, but it’s hard not to feel that way with all these security breaches happening.

Anyhoo, I post this not just to bitch, although I do feel better having released it into the internet ether, but to warn you all: Don’t give out your social to anybody. ANYBODY. Most people who ask for it on forms and stuff don’t really need it anyway. Leave it blank, and tell them to have the insurance company contact you personally if there is some problem verifying your identity. Run your credit report periodically to be sure there are no strange items on there that you did not sign up for. When I worked doing massage at the chiropractor’s office, patients’ charts with all their most personal information were left out on the front counter every single day in front of God and everybody, and nobody ever complained. I’m begging you – please complain. According to the police who handled the theft from my doctor’s office, this is becoming more common: Identity thieves will hire some petty pissant to specifically take medical files because they are a goldmine of information. And there are always people in and out of a doctor’s office. It is impossible to keep track between specimen-drop-offs, patients, lab workers, etc., not to mention medical care workers who are shits and will sell your information to the highest bidder. They will harvest your information and use it whenever they want. And that is just a hassle you don’t need, whether you’re about to have a baby or not.

So do me that favor, m’kay? I think I just figured out what my lesson in all this was….

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