And So It Begins

Happy New Year to All!

Max said hello to 2019 with a small, breathy and somewhat fishy “awoo” and desperate protestations against trying out one of his Christmas presents, a new soapless shampoo with the scent of Japanese cherry blossoms.

As you may have guessed, the Alpha Japanese Female was responsible for that choice. In any case, his resistance was futile and a fresh, clean Malt greeted the New Year.

Soap-Free shampoo…who would of thought? The “luxurious essence of Japanese cherry blossoms” gave way to the pedestrian scent of wet Maltese about three days later.

The AJF welcomed the Year of the Pig with a trip to her favorite Japanese book shop.

By the way, some call it Year of the Boar, Year of the Baby Back Rib, Year of the Police, or Year of the White Male in General but for me,”Year of the Pig” works just fine.

But I digress.

The shop is called “Book Off” which sounds like a poorly pronounced insult to me. Book Off buys and sells used Japanese language books and is an economical source of reading material for the AJF who is a voracious consumer of Japanese historical fiction, which is not my cup of green tea.

I’ve been told to Book Off by any number of people but we keep coming back.

As for lucky ole me, I welcomed the New Year with one of America’s traditional activities: changing over health insurance plans.

This task is deceptively complex and involves quite a bit of time at the computer, registering on new web sites, inserting and transferring loads of data and personal information, all the while shuffling through records for ID numbers and such.

Just when I thought I had completed my job, I was advised that a “personal representative” would make a follow-up phone call to confirm my information and validate my identity, presumably to the insurance company since I don’t need no stinkin’ third party validation. #oldguystoo

Sure enough, the phone rings and it’s the “personal representative,” which has the same meaning as “a call center employee in Bangladesh who can barely speak English but swears her real name is Sylvia.”

Sylvia greets me and starts by asking a series of questions to prove, to paraphrase the immortal words of Popeye the Sailor Man, that “I Yam Who I Yam.”

And I potato what I potato. snorf.

“Did you ever live on any of the following streets,” followed by choice of five. Easy, peasy, japanesey that one.

“Do you currently have an auto loan for a Mercedes Benz vehicle?” Gales of laughter ensue. Uh, sure, and the key to my wife’s Porsche Panamera is in my other pants. “No.”

Several more questions follow, but nothing particularly challenging since I am, well, me so I know the answers. Then comes the “bombshell” question as NBC News likes to say.

“What is your birthstone?” Long silence on my part as I struggle to accept that question. I mean, who the heck asks a guy what his birthstone is?

Every guy I know has this chart memorized. Every guy I know who works for Zale’s, Kay or other jeweler, maybe.

Having lost much of my patience I started to respond as I imagine 90% of all American males would respond: “How the ffff…would I know?” Fortunately, I caught myself after “How” and stifled the erupting intemperate remark thus preserving what little respect Sylvia might have had for me.

Happily, since everything else checked out the insurance company was willing to accept that I was indeed me. So, Max and I went to refill a prescription just to test the system. Bingo! Smooth as hummingbird thigh. Sylvia’s got game.

Problem was, the new dispensary is CVS which is legendary for the length of its receipts. Mind you, the cost of the drug to me was zero. The cost of the cash register tape could be measured in fallen trees.

You’ve heard of the Never Ending Story? Well, here’s the Never Ending Receipt.
Malt provided for scale.

46 thoughts on “And So It Begins

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  1. I’ve heard stories about the CVS receipts…wow! I must say, little Max does look whiter and brighter in these photos. Book off, eh? I run a G-rated blog, so will not blow my image now, but I am laughing my a$$ off!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It gets worse. Notice that mile-long receipt is just a string of coupons. Well, as a new customer, CVS doesn’t know my purchasing pattern so they “shotgunned” the ads hoping one would work. Naturally, I (and the guys at the gym) were intrigued by discounts for scented body powder, rejuvenating face cream and the super discreet and oh-so-colorful slimline panty liners which, curiously enough, are available in a size that would fit. I mean it was a pretty good deal and I suppose I could use them to wax the car… But no beer offers so I think I’ll have to wait for Big Data to correct my profile.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Happy New Year! I needed a good laugh and this was awesome. Cherry blossoms smell wonderful, but I never measured my dogs by the length of a cash register receipt before. Would that replace a yardstick? Woof!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. HI Valerie, Bella and Nikita! Happy New Year. I guess the upside of the CVS receipts is that one receipt could measure BOTH Bella and Nikita and still have length for more. Japanese love cherry blossoms for a number of reasons but one is that their beauty is so fleeting (insert metaphor of choice) and I can attest that the fragrance is even more fleeting on a Malt who got rained upon.

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  3. Goodness, you do have to jump through the hoops to get health cover!
    Here, as in the U.K., you pay every month and no one asks silly questions about your identity…after all, who in their right mind would be paying for someone else’s health insurance…

    What happens if you reply ‘Krypton.’?

    Mark you, when my state pension was due I found I had to apply for it to be paid instead of automatic reception and they wanted to know the ins and outs of a bull’s arse.
    I replied that they held my files, so why ask me…my pension was paid.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As a (cough) senior, I’m on Medicare which is quite straightforward but pays basically 80% of most bills. To cover the other 20% one buys a supplement and that’s where things get hairy. Won’t bore you with details but the supplement we used to have got canceled so we had to change insurance companies. In any event, buying that supplement is an annual ritual since prices and coverage keep changing. I think the notion is that because we are retired we have ample time to peruse drug formularies, check exceptions on coverage of existing decrepitude and somehow mystically divine what aliments will appear this new year. I wish a pox upon those who sit in Washington…an uncovered pox at that.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. At common lsw it was not actionable to say that someone had the pox, but to say that they had theFrench pox certainly was. I wonder what retribution saying that someone had the Washington pox would be visited upon the evildoer…
        France had a similar system…80% on the national health service and the top up from private companies which was a real rip off. Luckily we had t aken out private insurance from the U.K. as when we moved to France they would not allow foreigners to join the health service. That turned out decidedly cheaper than the national health contributions alone, let alone the top up.
        Here we just pay into the CAJA, the national health service, and that is that.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I assume CVS has balanced the cost and waste against the redemption rates for the coupons but their receipts have indeed become a standing joke. Perhaps when they capture sufficient data, the targeted advertising is more successful but offering someone like me a raft of female-oriented products was not a shrewd business decision, although the price of the panty liners was appealing.

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    1. With respect to emailing receipts, I assumed as much but didn’t see the option on the web site sign-up. Everything else was certainly on the site including the funniest one” “Would you like your (anonymized) data to be shared with WebMD?” That one cracked me up because we all know that WebMD is famous for online diagnoses that always include “cancer” as a possible result. Teeth hurt? Cancer. 8 pound human head protruding from between wife’s thighs? Cancer. Bad breath? Cancer. Just the sort of entity I want to share data.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I want that shampoo for Jacques, even if Jacques doesn’t. Max is always so clean and so patient. I’m envious. Seriously, he wears sweaters in southern California. Jacques is the West Highland White Terrier with a permanent tan — at least that’s our cover story. And it has to hit close to zero before he appreciates any of the dozen jackets, raincoats, sweaters, etc. that he’d generally really rather not be bothered with.

    The craziness of all the expat communities may be the only thing I miss about California. There is a lot that I like, but that mashup of English and whatever, having a 99 Ranch Market just down the hill, just past Spanish Kitchen, the Cambodian cafe, the burrito joint and Tokyo Fish, I do miss that. May Book Off live long and prosper.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As with everything else on earth, that shampoo is available from Amazon. It comes from a small business in Arkansas and the owner sends a hand-written thank you note with each order. It’s actually good stuff. Costs more than any product that I own for myself. Max’s temperature tolerance is about the same as the AJF which means it is eternally cold. She has more layers than an architectural dig into the Pleistocene Era; similarly, Max has an extensive sweater collection. I know, I know. I, too, like the weird diversity that is Southern California. It will never be my favorite place but there sure are many options to explore in respect of food, culture, music, dogs and did I mention dogs?

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      1. Amazon France? I live in hope. You wouldn’t believe what I’m paying in grooming fees and for fancy doggie shampoo. Maybe we make it up in lack of need for sweaters. If it’s not below about 40F, Jacques is fine going without.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I never thought I’d get hooked on online shopping but I am an avid Amazon user mostly because the in-person experience has become so dreadful. The brick and mortar stores pay lip service to providing a good experience but most fail to deliver so why not click, sit back and even save a buck or two? To put this in perspective, I was an exec with LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton for almost 15 years.

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  5. HOLY prescription red tape! Yikes, I can’t believe that’s just for an Rx. You sure you didn’t do most of your holiday shopping there too? Jeez. Because I’m of a certain age cohort, the nice folks at Social Security (and Kaiser for the supplement) think I can’t remember anything let alone my birthstone. They use the familiar technique when dealing with an oldie like me. Auto renew and I’m just fine with that. I know the coverage will be reduced, but the premium the remain the same. Everyone is (mostly) happy. The dentist however is gonna have to work with me this year on his charges. 🦷

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Folks who use Kaiser never fully appreciate the joy of the annual “open enrollment period” for Medicare supplement plans and the abundance of options they present. Besides, you’re still a young’un; my birthstone was created in the Big Bang. AND…it’s not just the medical plan for hospitals and doctor office bills, there’s also fun to be had enrolling or changing to a new dental and prescription drug plan. Trifecta! I mean, I was just fine getting my stuff from Walgreens but does the new drug plan accept this giant provider? Noooooo…..foooey. One positive sign,though: this new “drugstore” has a pretty darn good wine selection and I’m hoping, probably fruitlessly, for some coupons on that shopping aisle.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Thank you for the laughs! 😀
    UGHS on having to deal with insurances, numbers, info, paperwork, phone conversations, etc. 😦
    Glad the refill went smoothly!
    Oh, to smell like cherry blossoms sounds divine! 😉
    Once time, after washing Coop with a tropical fruit smelling shampoo, I texted all of my young-adult kids a text like it was from good Cooper saying, “Hey! Mom gave me a bath and I smell tropical and fruity!” 😀
    HUGS!!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tropical and fruity! That would be an excellent Malt smell too. Usually Max is pretty good smelling and the cherry blossom shampoo does have a nice scent but. like so many pups, Max loves to roll around on the ground, preferably in something disgusting.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. As it occurs, I am an emerald. Now that I know that, my life has been enriched in so many ways that are beyond my ability to describe. I stop people on the street just to tell them, “Hey! I’m an emerald!” It hasn’t gone well so far.

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  7. Hey! Tell Max I use Japanese cherry blossom shampoo (not Seamus, the human Bath and Body Works kind) and I can’t understand his aversion. I bet he smells lovely.

    Those CVS receipts are a pet peeve. They’re longer than Max but try using any of the coupons. You can’t on products that are on sale. Almost everything in the store is buy one get one for 50% off which counts as on sale. It’s a scam and a colossal waste of paper… Oh and happy New Year, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d bet the human version from Bath & Body and Beyond or whatever might be less costly than Max’s doggo concoction. Maybe it’s because his is soap-free and they charge more for not putting soap in shampoo. The new economy. It’s like a burger joint charging more for the vegan burger because there’s no meat. And your 100% right…so far the CVS receipt discounts have been targeted at products I don’t recognize, let alone use.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Spoken just like a white male to call this the year of the white male. You should just book off. And your little dog, too. Your fresh-smelling dog. Okay, that’s as mean as I get. I can’t imagine any male knowing his birthstone. I of course know mine but that’s because I have an XX chromosome. I’m glad you got all your cocoon Insurance sorted out. Free prescriptions must be amazing. Why haven’t the environmentalists gone after CVS for their responsibility in the demise of trees?? I bet I could make something nice out of those receipts. Maybe a paper airplane or a brooch.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Now, now, Wilford Brimley was a whippersnapping 51 when the cinematic gem was released, so that could be a compliment. And keep in mind I threw out my back last Wednesday, have had to cancel every meeting and appt since then, had to buy both a quad cane and a “potty riser,” and cannot stand erect. So who’s the real senior here?

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        1. I always wondered who bought those Squatty Potty things. Well, now I know, thanks for the image. 🤣 Sorry to hear of the back…that’s the worst but, as you know well, with advanced age comes frailty. Hope it heals soon, your family must be in dire straits with you out of action.

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  9. Max, you look more handsome than ever, if that were at all possible.Not sure if you’ll be interested in Lady atm. Being a backyard Aussie dog, she doesn’t get to the salon and occasion tolerates the indignity of the hose. She knows nothing else.
    This whole receipt caper seems to be yet another example of: “only in America”!
    Best wishes,
    Ro

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    1. Hi Sharon! We look forward to reading your adventures in Michigan. A little crispy out just now, huh? Max says he doesn’t believe there are any Maltese in your part of the country and he is not willing to go there to check his theory.

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