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    Esther Blumenfeld  

    The purpose of this web site is to entertain.  My humor columns died along with the magazines where they were printed, although I cannot claim responsibility for their demise.  I still have something to say, and if I can bring a laugh or two to your day, my mission will be fulfilled.

    Everyone I know thinks he has a sense of humor.  Here is my unsolicited advice. If you try to be funny and no one laughs, don’t worry about it.  However, if you try to be funny and no one EVER laughs, you might have a little problem.

     

    Friday
    Apr062018

    ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS

    Why is it that my faithful readers seem to enjoy the stories that I write about my most recent aggravations? Either it’s because they are happy that it didn’t happen to them, OR, because at one time or another it did! Distance from an irritation can make almost anything funny—-unless the stress sends you to the Loony Bin.

    Starting out on a positive note, I am pleased to report that my, “Either We Fix It Or Replace It” company finally sent me a check to pay for the replacement of my temperamental washing machine, that five technicians could not fix. After several months of calls (and finally a very strong letter), it took two weeks for the check to arrive. However the questionnaire, “Are you pleased with how your problem was solved?” came to my computer lickity split. Needless to say, I wasn’t pleased until the check arrived on a lovely Friday afternoon.

    Everything seemed to indicate that one problem had been solved, and the day was going to be uneventful. Not so fast! My mail had arrived at 5 p.m.—later than its usual late arrival, and I received a $1700.00 bill from the anesthesiologist who had put me to sleep for a colonoscopy. It stated that my little snooze had been rejected by Medicare.

    I was going out for the evening, so I applied my make-up with one hand, and dialed the Medicare number with the other. The very nice Medicare agent told me that Medicare had not paid the bill, because it had not been properly submitted with the words, “Medical Necessity.” I said, “Would you want a colonoscopy without an anesthesia?” She said something like, “Hell, No!  Ask them to resubmit.”  Of course, by now every medical office in the Country was closed, so I had to wait until Monday to resolve the problem. That gave me lots of time to imagine that the billing department would put me on telephone “Hold” and  give me a hard time.

    On Saturday morning, in order to lower my stress, I decided to go to the Mall to see the movie, “Black Panther.” The newspaper listed the super-duper-extra-loud version of the movie at 9:30 a.m., so I decided to go to the quieter one at 9:00 a.m. Of course, the newspaper had gotten it wrong, so I wandered the Mall for 30 minutes. Then, I returned to purchase a ticket for the 9:30 show. The ticket fellow put a chart in front of me and said, “Pick a seat.”  “Why?” I asked. “Because now all of our seats are reserved.” I asked him to show me where the screen was on the chart, and noticed that in the 300+ seat theatre, only 5 seats had been reserved. I closed my eyes and pointed to the chart. My finger fell on seat # 9 in row E.  Anyway, I think that’s what I chose, because when the ticket taker gave me my stub, he had given me the receipt side and discarded the seat designation.  So, I found seat #9 in a row, and prayed that no one would sit in my lap. After suffering 20-minutes of previews, I did enjoy “Black Panther,” and the action movie helped lower my stress. I was very happy that all the action was on the screen and not in the theatre.

    The Saturday mail was delivered early. I don’t know how the mailman does that only on the weekend. And, I received a report that informed me how much money was still left in my health insurance  spending account. It seems as if they had added an extra month. Another call for Monday morning.

    My Monday morning class begins at 9:30 a.m. so I called the sleepy folks at the anesthesiologist’s billing office in Los Angeles at 8 a.m. and requested the re-filing of my bill. The voice on the other end yawned said, “We noticed the problem and already sent it to the re-submit department, but I will make a note that you called.” “I don’t want another bill,” I said.  “If you get one, let us know,” was her not so reassuming response.

    I then called the folks at the insurance spending account office, and the nice man explained to me that I had just been paid for the shortfall of  October, 2017. “So,” I said, that means that there will be another shortfall in October, 2018— that will be paid in 2019.”  “You got it!” he replied. “Makes no sense to me,” I said.  “You are right,” he replied, but that’s the story.”

    I guess the answer is to—-Carpe Diem and get it by the throat.

    Esther Blumenfeld


    Friday
    Mar302018

    MOVEMENT MEANS MOVE

    Sometimes a person has to take a stand for what’s right, but that gets more difficult when standing for a long time takes its toll on old legs. However, when young people in Tucson decided to join “March For Our Lives,”the gauntlet had been tossed to three of my friends and me to join the campaign for gun safety.

    “Never Again,” resonates for Tucson, still traumatized, from the shooting rampage that led to the wounding of my Congresswoman, Gabby Giffords, and the people who were shot and died that day. They had come (Democrats and Republicans) to a shopping mall to meet and greet their Congressional Representative. That day, Democracy was at its best, and gun violence at its worst.

    So, we decided to lend our 360 years of experience (plus the 27 years of one of my friend’s granddaughters) to join the two-mile walk, from downtown, to the Mall at the University of Arizona. We wanted to add our voices to advocate for sensible gun control and shout, “Never Again” to murder.

    The decision had been made. Now what?

    We knew that walking for two-miles with a crowd of people wielding signs would be daunting, so we decided to drive to the University, get there early, and have lunch before joining the tail end of the march. After we parked it took awhile to stroll to a pizza place. We sat outside, cheered,  and waved our slices of pizza at the hundreds of people who marched by.

    After lunch, it was time for a five-woman-potty-break. By the time we all finished, the parade had passed us by.  Oops!

    However, we did manage to be numbers 7995-96-97-98 and 99 in the 8000 person walk. We carried no signs but hiked to the Mall to join the rest of the teachers, students and other supporters. The young people, some of them victims of gun violence, spoke about making their schools, as well as the Nation, safer. Those voices were inspiring and powerful. They suggested that after well meaning people are finished thinking about the issue and praying about the issue—-they get out and vote for politicians who will support the sensible control of guns.

    Then, as the rally ended,  and everyone was leaving, a very old woman finally arrived at the University Mall. She was panting, and walked hunched over her walker. She wore a large sign around her neck that said in bold letters: “BOYCOTT WALMART!”

    Every story should have a happy ending.

    Esther Blumenfeld

    Friday
    Mar232018

    HERE TODAY---GONE TOMORROW

    There are two kinds of March Madness. One involves basketball and the other involves resetting clocks.

    I once went to Greenwich, near London, to set my watch. Greenwich Mean Time is the clock time at the Royal Observatory. It is not affected by Summertime or Daylight Savings Time. When the sun is at its highest point, exactly above the Prime Meridian, it is 12:00 noon at Greenwich.

    Physics is the only science that explicitly studies time, but physicists agree that time is one of the most difficult properties of our Universe to understand.  According to Albert Einstein, “Time is relative and flexible. The dividing line between past, present and future is an illusion.” So, reality is ultimately timeless. George Carlin said it more succinctly, “There is no time. We made it up!”

    Often, time becomes animate. How often have I said, “Time just got away from me,” like I was chasing it down the street. Dickens hedged his bets when he wrote, “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” And, I am reminded that theologian, A.W. Tozer said, “ When you kill time, remember that it has no resurrection.”

    It seems as if time wears all kinds of mantles. A person can invest time, waste time, steal time or experience a good time or a bad time. I have never seen time fly, but people claim that it does, so it must have wings. I know it flies really fast, because before I know it, time has passed me by, and I can never catch it because it only goes in one direction. That’s why I often feel that there is never enough time in my day.

    Abe Lincoln philosophically said, “The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.” Although, Tennessee Williams said, “Time is the longest distance between two places.” So why does it often seem so short?

    Time is a conundrum, but here’s what I know, “Everything in life is timing.” (and a good attitude can’t hurt.)

    There are professionals who can teach us how to better manage time, but even that lesson can be fleeting since, unfortunately, often nothing really gets done until the last minute. P.J. Plauger advises, “Never put off until tomorrow what you can put off forever.” How timely is that!  

    And, is it really wasting time if you are having fun? So, maybe it’s okay to say, “Sorry I’m late. I just didn’t want to come.”

    Esther Blumenfeld

    Thursday
    Mar082018

    RING-A-DING

    RING-A-DING

    “The bathtub was invented in 1850 and the telephone in 1875. In other words, if you had been living in 1850, you could have sat in the bathtub for 25 years without having to answer the phone.” (Bill Dewitt)

    I have always had a love/hate relationship with my telephone, but it does have its advantages.  Fran Lebowitz said, “The telephone is a good way to talk to people without having to offer them a drink.” Happily, Caller I.D. makes it much easier to ignore unfamiliar phone numbers, and I figure if it’s important, the caller will leave a message.

    This is generally true, but sometimes the message on my answering machine is not for me, because someone has dialed a wrong number. When that happens, I often feel obligated to call the person and let him or her know that the nurse called the wrong patient, that I haven’t scheduled a plumber, or that someone’s date is probably at the restaurant waiting for her.

    I don’t know if I’ve been helpful, but I do know that people who dial wrong numbers have always managed to find mine. Not wanting to be interrupted (no matter what he was doing) my husband religiously refused to answer a ringing telephone. He never bothered to balance a checkbook either, but that’s another story. So before the advent of cell phones and Caller I.D., it was part of my job description to answer the phone.  

    When we lived in Atlanta, The Atlanta Constitution was the large daily paper. However, there also were several small weekly newspapers. One of these weekly publications had an advertising section for alternative life styles, and also included phone numbers for Gay bathhouses.

    Somehow, instead of the appropriate phone number, our home number was printed in one of these ads. So, naturally, I informed the editor of their mistake and he promised to rectify it in the next edition. In the meantime, I received lots of calls from prospective customers. The minute the men heard my voice, they knew they had the wrong number and were always polite and apologetic---but pleased when I gave them the correct number.

    The next week, the number was put right in the paper, and all was quiet on the home front, until I received a call from the bathhouse proprietor who thanked me profusely for all the referrals.

    Some of you will be pleased and some heartily disillusioned to learn that I volunteer every Tuesday morning at Democratic Headquarters, but it is a fact of life, so live with it!  Since I sit at the front desk, one of my duties is to answer the phone.

    Last week, I answered the phone and a man said, “I have a strange request.” I said, “I have worked here for a long time. Believe me I’m used to some strange requests.  How can I help you?” He said, “I’m a Republican, and I can’t find the phone number of Republican Headquarters. By any chance, do you have that number?”  “Sure,” I replied. “Hang on, I’ll get it for you.” And, I gave him the number.

    Ten minutes later, the phone rang again. It was the same man. He said, “They are so rude!” I can’t believe how rude they were to me.” “And,” he added. “You were so nice.” I said, “I’m sorry you had such a bad experience, but I hope you learned that Democrats are really nice people.”

    In a previous column I mentioned that a woman called and wanted to talk to my husband, “the urologist” because her doctor had given her our number.  I told her that my husband was not a urologist, but she insisted that he was.  Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore and said, “Lady, my husband can’t even fix a leaking faucet.” She hung up.

    Another lady, dialed my number several times, and she finally believed me that    no one named Gladys lived at my house. However, she called one more time to tell me, “You are the nicest wrong number I have ever called.”

    Happily, because of modern technology, obscene phone calls are a thing of the past---unless you count political pollsters.  

    Esther Blumenfeld (“How come wrong numbers are never busy?”) anonymous

    Friday
    Mar022018

    REGISTER NOW

    Burgeoning enrollments in continuing education courses, all over the country, indicate that everything we need to know, we obviously didn’t learn in kindergarten, or high school or even college. An adult educator can sniff out the needs of the community, and popular teachers of non-credit courses often receive  mementos from grateful students. One teacher received an urn filled with the last butts of the, “Stop That Smoking Hacking and Spitting” class.

    Trends are targeted, and many classes are advertised in brochures and newspapers. For instance, you can now register for: “How Money Can Buy You Happiness,” “Controlling The Compulsive Urge to Clean Your Clutter,” “How To Find Out What You Have No Interest In,” “Learning To Read Between The Lines For The Unbelievably Gullible,” and, “Putting The Inner Child Back After You’ve Let the Brat Out.”  

    Some of the teachers have advanced degrees and are extremely qualified, such as the “Assertiveness Training” professor at a local college. Unfortunately, at the last class session she had to hide in her classroom closet, because she had done such an effective training job that she completely lost control of her rampaging class.

    Recently, I enjoyed reading descriptions of  class offerings in a brochure that I received in the mail. Here are some that might appeal to you:

    In Search of Mediocrity: Have you been in the forefront too long? Sick of people seeking your opinions and hanging onto your every word? Then come and exchange warm and honest platitudes with other formerly fascinating men and women. Class limited to number of seats in the back row.

    Saturday Freeloaders At Four Grocery Stores: Join us for a progressive taste-testers lunch at four exciting supermarkets. Expose yourself to cuisine surprises as we introduce you to the fun of eating free on this culinary aisle-by-aisle field trip.

    How To Give Others The Impression That You are Really Intelligent, Even If You Are Not: Learn to fool your friends with easy-to-apply smart-as-a-whip tricks. Classes will explain how to answer questions with a question, the value of the knowing nod, maintaining eye contact while  your mind wanders, and skillfully replying, “uh huh.”

    In addition to course descriptions, the catalog gives detailed parking instructions: “Eighty parking spaces are available at no charge to our 8,000 non-credit students. While looking for a space, those registered for ‘Stress Management’ please leave your car windows up as you pass the tranquility garden since high-pitched screaming over excites plant stamens.”

    Some student endorsements were also listed in the brochure:

    Mack, an engineer, said, “I’m single and I figured out that by taking one course for $50, I can meet 20 women, where I used to spend that much on one date. It’s the best bargain in town.”

    Velma said, “I’d go anywhere, anytime to get away from my kids and the dirty dishes.”

    Simon chose “Encountering Your Actual You,” because “How To Take Your Toilet Apart In Six Easy Lessons ” was already filled. And—-

    Phillip the Philosopher summed it up: “The real reason why so many of us come here week after week, put up with the lousy parking and grab bag of classes is those colorful certificates we get at the end of each course. Not only are they suitable for framing, but I only have to take one more course for my bathroom to be completely papered for free.”

    Is that educational or what!

    Esther Blumenfeld (Based on “Evening At Emthorpe State Tech,” Southern By Choice” column, Blumenfeld and Alpern, Accent On Homes & Living Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 9, pg. 54) c. Blumenfeld