Sunday, October 9, 2016

The Eeyore People

I am dubbing them the Eeyore People after the character in the Winnie-the-Pooh books who is chronically depressed, listlessly apathetic, and who mopes around expecting the worst. We all know Eeyore People. They are the ones who consistently have the most convoluted and unfathomable series of unfortunate events happen to them, preventing them from accomplishing even the most simple tasks. If you dare to ask how they arrived at a particular state of affairs, prepare to sit through an extremely long shaggy dog story.

The Eeyore People bring these situations upon themselves by procrastinating, lacking resourcefulness, failing to think ahead, and mounting obstacles where there were none a minute before. It amazes me how they convince themselves that they are the worst victims of fate when 90% of their problems are self-made. By way of example, I have an acquaintance, whom I will call Eeyore, who calls me from time to time to complain about her latest problems. I lend a sympathetic ear because she doesn’t call that often and it’s not so hard for me to help out a lonely person who can use a good listener. Her latest debacle is that her car died and she can’t afford to buy another one. So she has not been to the doctor because she has no transportation. Therefore she has not had the prescriptions for her medications refilled and they have run out. So now she is off her meds and is sick. She has attempted to get her doctor’s office to refill the prescriptions but they won’t do it without seeing her for an office visit.

Let’s deconstruct this scenario. This woman is single, in her sixties, and she has six brothers who live in the same town she does (all of them married and some with grown children who also live in this town). You would think that A) between them the brothers could figure out how to give her a ride to the doctor, B) if the brothers are too busy then perhaps one or another of their grown children could be prevailed upon to take their auntie to the doctor, and/or C) the brothers could manage to find a vehicle or chip in to buy a vehicle that would get this sister around. But don’t suggest any of these things to her. “Oh, I couldn’t ask them for help,” she explains. Not my place to question the malfunctioning of her family. OK, let’s move on to other transportation. I suggested that she call the Senior Rider. We have a Senior Rider here that picks up old folks and drives them to the store or to doctor appointments at no cost. It’s a public service. All you have to do is call. Eeyore lives in a big city so I imagine they have an excellent Senior Rider she could access. She claims she looked into a senior ride service in her area and that to use it you need a note from your doctor, whom she can’t go see because she doesn’t have transportation. Am I to believe that this particular service is the only senior ride service in her city? (She says she doesn’t know another one.) Or that she can’t have the doctor MAIL HER a letter of referral? Surely she can get a letter of referral for the senior ride service without making an office visit. What about public transportation, you might ask. I did. What about taking the bus? You would think the bus route maps were drawn up by M.C. Escher the way she describes them. She can’t figure them out. What about a taxi? Too expensive. Ask a friend to drive her? She doesn’t feel comfortable asking anyone she knows. She sounds like the most unresourceful person on the planet, but trust me, this is the way Eeyore People think and operate.

So eventually she figures out a way to go to see a doctor, not her regular doctor, but a different doctor. Before she retired she worked in the accounting department of a large hospital and she knows how to get to the hospital. So she goes to a doctor at that hospital. She has diabetes so the doctor she needs to see to refill her meds is an endocrinologist. This is truly shocking, right? Yes, you betcha, the meds she has not been getting are for diabetes. One would think she would feel a greater sense of urgency. Anyway, finally, Eeyore goes to this different endocrinologist, who asks her who referred her. The previous endocrinologist apparently served as both her primary care doctor and her endocrinologist, but in order to bill Medicare, the new endocrinologist needs her to have a referral from a primary care doctor. Since she has given up on going to her previous doctor, she doesn’t have a primary care doctor anymore. She can’t very well get a referral from one endocrinologist (whom she just ditched) for another one. This sounds like a Catch-22. It takes real talent to land in a situation like this.

In the meantime, the new endocrinologist provided her with prescriptions for enough meds to tide her over for a few weeks until she sorts herself out. But she says one of the meds is too expensive for her to buy. I wonder how she was able to buy it before but can’t buy it now. Maybe the pharma company arbitrarily decided to raise the cost on it, like Mylan did with the EpiPen, which has been all over the news. (Mylan raised the cost of the EpiPen from $100 in 2009 to $600 in 2016, for no other reason than the fact that it owns a monopoly on the lifesaving device and can make more money on it.) You would think she would have some kind of pharma plan through Medicare that would cover her meds. But when she set up her Medicare plans, she didn’t get good advice, and so she doesn’t have an appropriate pharma plan for her needs. So she should work with an agent to fix that, right? But will she do it? Of course not. She’ll keep whining that she can’t afford her meds. I don’t know which of her meds she can’t afford. I hope it’s not the insulin.

You really can’t help the Eeyore People sort things out. You can’t make recommendations, because they will come up with an insurmountable obstacle that prevents them from pursuing every single blessed suggestion you can make. Life is just unfair to them. No one knows the trouble they’ve seen. These people make everything super complicated. They couldn’t peel a potato without terminally destroying their kitchen plumbing and falling on the floor and breaking a bone.

Eeyore People are the ones who have a hole in their kitchen ceiling that lets the rain in and when you unwittingly ask them about it, the explanation involves a tree falling, a dozen disreputable contractors, an all-night roofing supply store, squirrels, asbestos, insurance paperwork, FEMA, a Super Bowl party, an extension ladder, the Farmer’s Almanac, and hip replacement surgery. By the time you have heard the entire explanation, it’s summer and the urgency of repairing the hole has dissipated. I feel sorry for people who make their lives so complicated, who convince themselves that they can’t afford anything because they have limited finances instead of working out a solution, who think they don’t deserve anything, who are not resourceful or smart, who don’t take care of business, who continue in a downward spiral that is completely unnecessary. They don’t realize how much they create their own difficult situation.

I have a friend whom I met in Berkeley back in the 1980s. He was about 28 years old at the time of the incident I’m about to relate. One day he was driving home and his car died. He couldn’t afford to fix it. He got someone to tow it to his apartment building for free and he left the car parked, inert, on the front lawn until he could take it to a mechanic. It sat out there for at least a year. My friend rode his bike and took public transportation. Then he got a new job and was earning better money, so he had the car towed to the mechanic. It turned out that the only thing wrong with it was that it had run out of gas. Otherwise it ran just fine. Eeyore People. Oy.

Eeyore. Kinda cute. Attracts challenges.

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