Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Who will watch the watchers? 

Apparently, they'll watch each other.

The ultimate job for a thief is night shift security. After all, there are rarely employees working overnight to report the guards, and generally only a few guards on duty. It'd be incredibly easy for a guard to load expensive items into his car while on duty, completely undetected.

So, I wasn't terribly surprised when Louie informed me today that there had been some recent theft that had been blamed on the guards. Specifically, some rather expensive drills had been stolen. I was gone when this happened, so I guess I'm not a suspect. This is good, because I certainly haven't been ripping off company tools.

Anyhow, this has led to a new policy. Now, when we arrive at work to relieve our fellow security officers, we're required to search their cars and bags before they go home. Sounds logical, right?

Not really. If one of my co-workers is stealing, I doubt this will do much good. After all, there are only ten of us, and we're a pretty tight-knit group. I have a hard time imagining any of the guards turning the others in, unless it's the new guy that's ripping things off.

On the other hand, if I found out who was doing it, I wouldn't hesitate to rat him (or her) out. Self-preservation rules the day -- if it *is* a guard, and it continues unchecked, we could very well lose our contract. That means I'd be laid off or transferred, and neither appeal to me.

So, if I notice a co-worker trying to sneak out of the facility with a drill-shaped bulge in his pants, I'm not going to assume it's his penis. After all, I hear the locals have small ones -- stunted growth from malnutrition, I suppose.

Chamber of Horrors -- Part I 

After the last week or so of suffering, I had an appointment with the oral surgeon today. We arrived at the office at around 1:20pm and I was called in after just a few minutes (my appointment was for 1:30).

They did one of those 360 degree x-rays. I was wincing the whole time -- not because it was painful or anything, but because I've had them before and they were insanely expensive. This time they didn't charge me much for it, because the total bill for the day's visit was $90 -- less than my regular dentist, who only did a spot x-ray.

After that, they took my vital signs, and for some bizarre reason my blood pressure was high -- 139/77. I've never, in my entire life (and probably hundreds of BP readings) had it come out higher than 120/80. My blood pressure is normally quite low -- around 100-110 over 60-70. I suspect their electronic BP machine needs calibrated or something.

The dental assistant led me off into another room, where she popped in a video about having wisdom teeth removed. "I'm not here for my wisdom teeth," I explained. She informed me that it was the doctor's policy to have all patients who still had their wisdom teeth watch the video. I shut up and watched.

Then the oral surgeon himself came in to talk to me. He didn't strike me as overly competant -- he seemed like a wholesale wisdom tooth remover, who had little experience in much else. After looking at the x-ray, he thought I'd had the ones on the left side out, which I haven't -- they're in all the way because I had one molar on the top and bottom removed when I was much younger.

He examined me and tried to convince me to keep one of the teeth -- oddly enough, the one he felt I should keep, is the one that's the source of all the pain and problems. I insisted I wanted them both out.

Then he decided I should also have the wisdom teeth on that side taken out at the same time. I went along with this, figuring it wouldn't be much more expensive and I might as well get it done then.

I'd thought I was going to get it all done that day, but no, this was just a consultation. It turned out that was for the best, anyway, since the estimate I was presented with was shockingly high.

Anyway, he asked if I had any questions. I had one -- I informed him I'd been in severe pain and my dentist only prescribed enough medication to last until that appointment. He gave me another 30 Vicodin ES. I lied, though, because just yesterday my dentist refilled the prescription for 20 she'd given me. So, since last Friday, I've been prescribed a grand total of 70 Vicodin ES -- the equivalent of 105 regular Vicodin.

Yay for me. I like Vikes.

So after the oral surgeon finished giving his speech about what he thought I should get done, I met the billing woman to pay for the visit and look at the estimate for what I needed done. She asked what I was looking at getting done -- just the two teeth that need to go, or the wisdom teeth as well. I asked for the price on the full thing first, which was over $1,100. Ouch.

Just to get those two teeth out (including the associated jawbone work), it'd be $656, which is bad enough. My choices were to pay up front at the time of the visit, or apply for a "dental credit card". I tried applying, despite my horrible credit, and didn't get it. She told me the credit company had advised a "strong co-applicant". Unfortunately, Steve has no credit whatsoever.

Mom to the rescue. My own parents will be in Texas in a few days, and they agreed to co-sign on it for me. "If you don't pay, we'll geld Steve," my mom said.

So, I'll be going back to the chamber of horrors early next week. I'm not looking forward to this at all, but at least I get IV benzodiazepenes for my trouble.

Meanwhile, I'm staying high on Vicodin... life is good.

Steve's Mom 

So, my future mother-in-law spent the last few days visiting. It was... interesting.

The first day was the worst, but in reality, even that went much more smoothly that I had expected. We met her at the hotel she was staying in, and within five minutes of our arrival, she was carping at Steve because his shirt was *slightly* wrinkled.

"I hope you don't go to work looking like that," she said. "Now take that shirt off, I'm going to iron it!"

So, she hadn't seen her son in close to six months after he moved out suddenly and went halfway across the country... and the first thing she notices is that his shirt has a couple of minor wrinkles. Sheesh.

My impression of Steve's mom wasn't helped much by this, I have to say.

We went out to eat shortly after that, her treat. Just a few minutes after sitting down at the table, she decided to announce that when she had accessed Steve's email account (the day he left home) to find out where he was, she also read every single one of the emails I had sent him. There were well over a hundred of them, many of which were quite personal in nature. Some of them also included my opinion of his mom, which wasn't very high.

I'm not sure why she decided to tell us this, especially over dinner, but her tone wasn't very nice, and certainly not apologetic. I think she meant to let me know she knew I didn't like her, and that she didn't like me much either. Who knows? Well, whatever, under the circumstances I could hardly expect to have a warm relationship with my mother-in-law.

Steve rode in the front with his mom on the way to and from the restaurant. I guess I was a little miffed at that -- I was feeling a lot like a third leg throughout the first day, like my presence was being mostly ignored because no one wanted me there. On the second day, I asked Steve if he'd sit beside me when we rode together so I didn't feel quite so excluded... and besides, it's been my experience that couples sit together in cars whenever it's possible.

More on *that*, later.

After dinner, Steve's mom wanted to check out an ice cream shop that was near the restaurant, so we walked over to look. She and I were both stuffed from dinner, but Steve bought himself an ice cream cone. The weird thing was, on the way out of the shop, she apologized to me for bringing him in there. "It's my fault for wanting to go here," she said.

I thought that was odd, too. Maybe I'm not supposed to approve of his eating ice cream. Hell if I know... I guess Steve's family is a lot more health-conscious than I am.

We only had to spend a few hours with her that night, since Steve was at work until the afternoon. And when she said, "If you two are tired, you can go home," we took her up on that right away.

The next day, she was supposed to call us at noon, but we weren't home. I ran out of Vicodin ES and called my dentist to get more, then we wound up waiting around the pharmacy for about an hour and a half. The dentist hadn't called in the prescription yet.

So, we didn't get home until almost 1:00, and called her then. We'd decided to go shopping in Mexico for the day, and so she came and picked us up. I had assured Steve that it wouldn't be weird if he sat in the back with me -- after all, it's been my experience that couples sit together in a car.

Steve's mom didn't see it that way, however, and laid down a guilt trip on him for not sitting by her. Then she suggested I should sit up front with her, in such a way that I couldn't decline without being overtly rude, so I did.

It worked out pretty well, though. We made small talk on the way there, and it wasn't even particularly awkward. Amazing.

The trip to Mexico went well -- we spent a lot of time shopping, then ate lunch at a restaurant Steve and I had been to before. I felt a little more involved during all this, because I'd been going to Mexico for years. Steve had only been there once before, with me, and his mom had only been to Acapulco, which is quite different than a border town.

Afterwards, Steve's mom invited us to watch Runaway Jury with her at the movie theatre. I survived. After all, watching a movie, even one I didn't like at all, is a good way to pass time with someone you don't like much. Movies are nice -- no forced conversation required for two hours straight!

I pretended to have enjoyed the movie, despite the fact I absolutely hate courtroom drama, and felt it was awfully slanted towards gun control. (I'm a former card-carrying member of the NRA -- former only because I haven't got around to renewing my membership. I'm also a gun owner.)

Luckily, it was nice and late when the movie ended, and we got to go home. Yay!

Then there was today -- Steve's mom came over at 11:30 for a late breakfast, which we cooked for her -- omelets and southern-style hashbrowns. Since my appointment at the oral surgeon was at 1:30, she didn't stick around for long. She did compliment my cooking several times, though, which was nice.

Since her flight was that afternoon, we wouldn't be seeing her again before she left. Surprisingly, she hugged me on her way out. Although I don't expect to ever have a good relationship with my mother-in-law, I do think she warmed up to me a bit during her visit. Maybe she doesn't see me as the evil woman who bribed her son to leave home with promises of sex, anymore. Or maybe she does, and hides it well. Who knows?

We were both pretty relieved to see her go. Still, the visit went remarkably well -- undoubtably this has a lot to do with the fact I was high on Vicodin the entire time. And somehow, in all that time, I only slipped and said a bad word once -- I accidently said "shit" during breakfast today. She probably noticed, but she didn't say anything.

Steve's mom freaks out over the word "damn", so I was trying very hard not to curse. This is extremely difficult for me, because I've got a mouth like a drunken sailor -- I've been saying all sorts of offensive words and phrases since I was four or five years old.

I have to say that I'm glad she visited though. If nothing else, I definitely understand why Steve hates it so much when I'm critical. After dealing with his mom for that long, it's no wonder he's sensitive about it. It's also no wonder his self-esteem isn't that great -- constant criticism with very little praise doesn't do much for one's confidence.

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