September 2008


I was going to write, “There; I feel better now,” but the sad fact is, I don’t! For the past two weeks, I’ve been plagued by the worst allergies I’ve ever had in my life!

I know I’m not alone out here. According to everything I’ve read, we’re having the worst allergy season we’ve had in years, with the most heinous culprit being ragweed. Everyone is sneezing, itching, wiping From:!.gif their eyes, sniffing and coughing. If misery loves company, I should be thrilled about now. To be honest, though, I’d be more thrilled if it were just those other people suffering, so I could go on living in ignorance and comfort

When I was young, I wasn’t allergic to anything at all. I could roll around in poison ivy, and it wouldn’t phase me. (I actually did this once with my boyfriend. ::cough:: The next day, he was covered in calamine lotion, and the only sign I’d been there was the knowing smile on my face.) My poor brother, on the other hand, was highly allergic. I can still see the rash on his arms, which always looked angry and inflamed and was usually bleeding to some degree from his constant scratching. I felt for him, but I really had no idea what he was going through.

Now, I do!

Over the past twenty years or so, I’ve slowly developed allergies to this and that. I’ve hadFrom: three allergy tests (ooOOooo! Needles!), and each one has shown that I’m progressively becoming more allergic to more things. The last time I took one (last year), it showed that I am at least a little bit allergic to everything they tested me for except dogs and cats. Thank goodness, since I have four cats and two dogs!

This bout with allergies, though, has been like nothing I’ve ever experienced. It started with a little itching, then became an angry, bumpy rash on my lower legs and hot, red, itchy skin over the rest of my body, except for my head. At first, I took a back scratcher to bed with me. When it didn’t do the job, I tucked a hair brush into my hand before nodding off. (Oh, how I now love that hair brush/skin shreader!)

When the itching got so bad that I couldn’t sleep or sit still anymore, I rushed to the doctor, who put me on Prednisone and a really strong topical steroidal cream. At first, it helped, but as soon as I began lowering the dose to avoid becoming addicted to it, the itching came back with a vengence! Now, my head and face also itch. Joy.

I suppose I should be grateful. After all, I’ve never felt more alive. Unfortunately, I have also never felt more like I’m covered with other live things like mosquitos or stinging ants.

I itch; therefore, I am. It’s times like these, though, that I wish I could just not itch and sleep. That’s it…sleep, perchance to dream…of not itching!

I‘ve had two new cars in my life, and I can honestly say, that when it comes to feeling good, there’s not much better than driving a new car.

I don’t know if it’s the new car smell or the fact that the car is perfectly spotless inside and out, but when I drive a new car, my pleasure center just kicks in at full tilt, endorphins fire off, and I’m just plain happy.

That said, one of the worst moments in a new car owner’s life is when they find out that some careless bozo has wrecked their dream machine.  That happened to me with my first new car, a beautiful 2000 Toyota Camry XLE.  I had had it for two weeks when I drove it 90 miles to show it off to my parents.  I can still see my dad’s face as he told me his neighbor had backed into my innocently parked car with his pickup truck, sheering the right side with his open bed gate.  I cried when I saw it’s previously perfect side, cut open as if with a crude can opener. It physically hurt.

I had to fight hard to get that car back in “like new” condition.  The neighbor’s insurance company wanted to putty, sand and paint the existing bumper - I refused.  I finally got a new side panel and bumper, but they agreed kicking and screaming.

So, imagine what it felt like to walk out of a store to find my second new car (another Camry) had been backed into by yet another careless bozo.  This time, I’d had the car for three months when it happened.  This time, I didn’t cry. I got mad. It didn’t help that the driver didn’t have insurance and gave me the run-around, but undaunted, I contacted my insurance company, Progressive, and with the help of my claims adjuster, Callie, I tracked him down and got payment for the damages anyway.

That’s only part of the story, though.  The REAL story here is the unbelievably wonderful service I recieved from Progressive insurance. From the very first phone call I made to the last, each Progressive representative treated me with kindness, empathy and respect. Not a single person sounded annoyed to be working with me. No one gave me a sour look. Every single Progressive employee smiled and treated me like queen for a day.

My adjuster, Callie, called me within 15 minutes of my initial call to take my recorded statement.  This alone was amazing to me, since I have worked as a claims adjuster and know how difficult the job can be.  Not only that, she or someone from Progressive’s Oklahoma City concierge office kept me informed every step of the way.

Speaking of the concierge office, I want to be sure to mention the terrific service I received there from Andrea Coats.  She was friendly, helpful and cared enough to remember the correct pronunciation of my very-difficult-to-pronounce last name — it’s pronounced “Flay-tur” by the way — and when I came back days later to pick my car up, I didn’t even have to produce my claim number. She knew who I was, pulled up my claim and, again, pronounced my name right!  (This particularly impressed me.  People I’ve worked closely with for years STILL can’t pronounce my name.) This woman is a jewel.  Progressive is very lucky to have her.

All in all, it was a superb experience, particularly since it was such a downer of an event.  I never had to argue with how the damages were fixed. I got a new bumper cover just like that. Callie even followed up with me to make sure that the guy’s personal check used to pay the damages didn’t bounce on me.  That’s what I call real service.

In a service industry seemingly full of people who don’t care, it was wonderful to work with people who do.  Having my new car wrecked wasn’t a pleasure, but the Oklahoma City Progressive employees made sure that getting it repaired was pleasurable.

I call that Progressive service!