JH Mae

Life is already messy and complicated. Why can’t the simple things be simple, straightforward and easy?

I was thinking this while a pharmacist told me my brand new health provider had no idea who I was. She gave them my name, my birthday and my enrollment number and no luck. I was a stranger to them. And because of that, I had to pay $30 more for my prescription than I’d planned.

My first thought was that I would now have to spend half my life on the phone with someone who didn’t know what he was doing in an attempt to sort out the mess. I already grieved the three hours of life lost to this effort before I even left Walgreens. It should be simple. I signed up, I verified my income, my identity, my eye color, my dog’s name, my driver’s license number, my favorite "Game of Thrones" character. The entire application took a valuable afternoon. How difficult was it, I whined to myself, to find someone’s application in a computer system?

I took a deep breath. It couldn’t be helped -- I’d have to just suck it up and try not to threaten the unfortunate person at the insurance call center. I slowly calmed as I gathered up a few items I’d come there to buy and presented them to the cashier.

"Could you bring these to the cosmetics counter?" he said, collecting my items and handing them back to me. "It would really help our sales associate out."

How, exactly? Does the "sales associate" earn bonus points if he helps me buy deodorant and hair spray? What does he win? A giant stuffed teddy bear?

I heaved an annoyed sigh. Sure, no problem, I’ll go back the way I came. Again, something that should be simple made more complicated than necessary.

It reminded me of an epic fight I had when I worked as a secretary in a government office. I argued with an awful woman over how she wanted to buy pastel-colored pop-up Post-Its or some nonsense, and the county only allowed the standard, infinitely boring yellow non-pop up ones. Oh the humanity! It’s was an argument that made me question the meaning of my life.

I want to tell people who make the simple things more difficult that life is plenty hard enough. On a daily basis, we struggle and struggle to deal with just the act of living. Taking care of kids, doing well at our jobs, paying our bills, overcoming insecurities and worries -- heck, just trying to get over a bad cold is a pain in the neck. So why, Lord why, can’t something small and insignificant just be easy? I’m tired after dealing with everything else.

Modern life seems to be overloaded with such meaningless struggles. I sometimes wish that we only had to worry about getting food, finding shelter and staying alive. Now those are things to fight over. Sure, having to kill, skin, quarter and roast your next meal is more hassle than I want to deal with.

But proving that I signed up for health care? Justifying the purchase of pastel post-its? Do these things matter? I want to spend more of my life enjoying life, not arguing over small, pointless details.

I doubt that when I’m on my death bed, those post-its will haunt me until my last breath.

JH Mae is a Banner columnist.