The list of the things that I will not miss

After I'd given my two weeks notice, I expected to be unemployed. That's what happens when you quit, without another job lined up. But on Tuesday, with four days to go, the boss pulled me aside to ask, would I stay if I could work from home?

I ain't proud that I considered it, but nobody said anything more about it on Wednesday, which gave me time to reflect on just how awful Haugen & Dahl is. And it's plenty awful.

It's a third-party health-care administrator. H&D neither sells insurance nor pays claims, but it "administers" health care plans. My co-workers answer questions about customers' coverage, and other employees pre-deny claims before the insurance company has a chance to.

(It's certainly more complicated than that, perhaps even explicable — but that's all I saw, from four months on the inside.)

♦ ♦ ♦

On Thursday, I whistled "Happy Trails to You" a lot, and wore my "So fucking what?" t-shirt, but nobody even noticed.

At the end of the day, I heard, "Hey, Doug," and it was my boss. I thought she might scold me for the t-shirt (the dress code is 'business casual', but not that casual) but nope. "Tomorrow," she said, "let's talk more about you maybe working from home."

I'd decided the day before that my answer was no, but I was off the clock and in a hurry to catch the bus for my very long ride home, so all I said was, "Tomorrow!"

♦ ♦ ♦

On Friday, I wore my t-shirt that says, "Health care is a human right," but same as the day before, nobody said a word about it.

I didn't want the conversation the boss had promised, so soon as I sat down, I wrote her a succinct email: "Today really is my last day." Being a nice guy, I added a smiley face before hitting 'send'.

I hadn't told anyone but the boss that I was leaving, so at quitting time (which really was quitting time) I sent a goodbye email to my co-workers. Then I tried but failed to escape the building without any hugs.

♦ ♦ ♦

So now I'm out of work again, and as a farewell to Haugen & Dahl, let's list some of the things I will not miss about that job:

• I will not miss hearing the phone calls my co-workers fielded all day, explaining wildly over-complex rules that determine who has health and dental coverage, and who doesn't.

Worst among many was, "You need to work 400 hours over three consecutive months to begin your coverage, and then after that you need to continue working at least 150 hours each month, or your coverage lapses."

And almost seriously, kudos to my co-workers, because most of them could explain such bullshit and somehow not sound cruel or blasé. They'd say "I'm sorry," and I believe they meant it, and then they'd say it again to another caller ten minutes later, and I believe they meant it again.

• A claims manager worked near enough to me that I could overhear her Zoom meetings. She wore a headset, so I couldn't hear the rest of her meetings, but whenever she spoke, she spoke of "savings" — meaning, claims that could be denied.

She didn't seemed to be cheating or fudging, but she never considered any factor except "savings."

Typically, she'd read a pertinent paragraph from the policy aloud, about how some very rare procedure is covered, but only under certain even rarer conditions, "and Mrs Zardosky's chart contains no record of such conditions, so we can certainly deny her claim. Next?"

• It's nothing compared to those first two perfectly-legal crimes against humanity, but you can't phone Haugen & Dahl and let us know your new address. "Address changes must be submitted in writing," my co-workers explained on the phone, "so please go to the website, find the address change form, fill it out, and mail or email it in."

• H&D uses Microsoft Teams, a clunky software chatroom for workers, and we were all required to be logged in to MS Teams at all times.

Management had decided that the people answering phones need to know when co-workers have stepped away, even briefly, so if you had to take a leak, you were supposed to announce it in the Teams chatroom. "Going to restroom," and then, "Back from restroom."

I never answered the phones, so I didn't have to announce my pee breaks (which would've been twice as many as anyone else's), but still... No other place I've worked has demanded to know about bathroom breaks.

And MS Teams comments are archived, so for all I know, everyone's pee patterns are tallied into a pee break spreadsheet.

• H&D had a bizarre unwillingness to purchase office supplies. Three times I spoke with my boss about getting paper clips, cuz I used a hundred daily, and the answer was always, "I'll requisition a box." But the paper clips never came, so instead I raided the boss's desk, and other people's desks, for paper clips.

• Break room snacks were sold with the same no-cash, all-computerized system as at my last job. This is snacking in the 21st century: If you buy a Twinkie, it'll be listed on your next bank statement.

• I needed to dress warmly, wearing long sleeves even when the forecast was 90°, because the office's air conditioning works too well. Waiting for the bus home, then, could be hellishly hot.

• And I never again want to sit on an auto-flush toilet. You sit down and start grunting, and every time you shift slightly on the seat, or scratch an itch, or even inhale deeply, the toilet flushes with the strength of a NASA launch.

And then, beyond the building and the work:

• Drivers on Mercer Island are ridiculously over-polite. I'd be walking toward the crosswalk, but still five seconds away, and on the other side of the street, a car signaling a right turn would wait. And wait. For me.

Drivers would wait as I walked to the street, crossed two lanes going north, then crossed two lanes going south, and finally crossed in front of a waiting car. Sometimes the driver would smile and wave at me. And then the driver would wait a little longer, until I was all the way up on the sidewalk, before gingerly inching the car around the corner at three miles an hour.

Stuff like that happened most days, and don't tell me it's good manners. It's frickin' embarrassing, to have a line of cars wait and watch as the fat old man crosses the street. Drive, damn you all.

• And I like riding the bus, but there's a limit. From my house to downtown is a 35-minute ride, followed by a 5-minute walk to my next bus stop, then a 5-10 minute wait for that bus, a 10-20 minute ride across the bridge (depending on traffic), and a 10-minute walk to Haugen & Dahl's building.

Every morning. And an even slower return trip, every evening.

♦ ♦ ♦

There's more to complain about, of course — much more, but suffice to say that I won't miss Haugen & Dahl. It's an office like any other office, but it's health insurance, and that's gotta be the worst.

One last annoyance, and then I'll end the list before becoming an annoyance myself:

• Remember the claims manager who sat near me, denying claims all day? She's management, so she had a printer on her desk, but she never used it. Not once, while I worked there.

But a major part of my job was prepping and printing letters to be mailed — fifty letters in an ordinary day. So of course, I was assigned a printer that was 105 long footsteps from my desk. Down one corridor, then another, and then halfway down a third corridor, for one-hundred-five steps, and then one-hundred-five steps back to my desk.

Having printed my last letter for Haugen & Dahl, I am taking no walks further than the (manual-flush) john at home, for at least a week.

Unemployed again
Looking off into the void again
In my recliner watching movies without friends
I'm so dang glad to be unemployed again



  1. thanks for a little look into he health care system...Eel

    1. Man, it's relentlessly depressing, too. H&D plays by the rules, so often they're saying YES — you can see a doctor, and the claim will be paid, etc. But there's more money in saying NO.

  2. The no-cash thing is freaking me the fuck out. In the course of 3 years I went from someone just like everyone else to "the cash guy," feeling like I'm prematurely ancient, wearing terrycloth shorts and tipping people with nickels. My grandfather paid in cash for everything and I noticed that he never spent more than he had. That seemed wise after falling several thousand in the hole at a time I barely made several hundreds. But it really shouldn't matter. Walgreens gets me to reveal all my purchases to them by offering a discount. I'm not paranoid, I just know motherfuckers are buying and selling info about my Twinkie and toilet paper habits, and if you want to keep doing that, you need to give me a cut or I'm going to make it as hard as possible.

    Anyway, sorry about the job, hooray about the leaving, sorry you might need to look for another job, but hooray you don't have one now.

    1. Your last paragraph is exactly what I'm feeling. Yesterday was Sunday, but I *didn't* have the sinking feeling that starts at about 2PM, knowing I gotta be at work the next day. BECAUSE I DON'T. Yippee!

      In addition to all the creepy and paranoid aspects of banning cash purchases, for me at least, it bans the impulse purchase, which has to be bad for business in the snack business.

      You have two dollars in your pocket, you might buy a sack of corn chips in five seconds... but they won't let you. They want you to use your credit or debit card, push eleven buttons, which takes at least twenty seconds *if* the scanner picks up the barcode immediately, and if it doesn't (narrator: it doesn't) you could stand there for a minute.

      Even when I tried to buy a sack of corn chips, I gave up.


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