So I went out my apartment door around 9:15 a.m. on Saturday morning and saw a medium-sized carton sitting in front of my neighbor’s door. My neighbor hasn’t been in residence for months so I went over to take a look at the carton. UPS had delivered it. The carton was marked, “Rush—refrigerate—rush” and marked for 24-hour delivery and had a red sticker that said “SATURDAY delivery.”
Well, huh. Maybe the neighbor was planning to return that day and had had something sent on ahead of her. I went about my business, but kept that carton in mind. Something was sitting in my hallway and degrading. A couple times later in the day I knocked on her door but there was no answer.
I was getting pretty fed up with this neighbor. The manager had told me—a long time ago—that the tenant had a son in New York City who she frequently visited. Multiple letters from management and attempted-delivery notices from UPS had gathered on her door. About a week ago, her smoke alarm rang off-and-on all night. When the police and firemen entered her apartment they found her bedroom window standing open during the coldest February on record.
Around 6:00 p.m. on Saturday evening, I brought the carton into my apartment, thinking that maybe it was from the Fruit-of-the-Month Club or something. I would have taken it to the management office but that was closed all weekend. When I opened the carton, I found that it contained $2000 worth of insulin.
Well, huh. The insulin packages were about the size of two half-gallons of ice cream (I am extremely conversant with ice cream containers and can measure small things in terms of them) and, although it wasn’t a comfortable fit, I could get them into my refrigerator. The insulin sat safely in my refrigerator for the rest of the weekend, and I knocked on the neighbor’s door a couple more times—no answer.
On Monday morning two things happened. First, my blood sugar was over 600, which puts it in the “Oh, Jesus” zone. Nobody can explain why it is so high, or figure out what to do about it. And insulin makes me sick. And with blood sugar that high, one gets irritable, can’t think straight and tends to fall over a lot. Also, at 600, you become at risk for a coma.
The other thing is that I called CVS Pharmacy in Pittsburgh, which is where the insulin was sent from. I thought maybe they would like to come get their $2000 product and take it back, since they had not yet been paid for it. And who was the payor? Medicare/Medicaid—i.e., you, the taxpayer? And who and when was this shipment ordered? And why didn’t they send it “signature required” to ensure that it wouldn’t sit out in the hallway for, like, forever?
CVS treated me to a computerized list of telephone choices, none of which fit the problem, and none of which included “other,” “customer service,” or “please hold for a live human being.” After about five minutes of fiddling with this, I chose “check on delivery” and was electronically told I’d have to wait in line for eight minutes. Actually, twice that long.
Then I got a nice young woman, we exchanged pleasantries, I told her what was going on, and she didn’t know what to do about it so she asked me to hold again. After ten minutes, I hung up. You just don’t expect a person who has no stake in the matter and only is trying to be a good neighbor to hold for more than half an hour.
Then I checked my blood sugar again and it was still over 600. It’s never been that high for that long during the morning.
In the paper work that accompanied the delivery of the insulin was the name and phone number of my neighbor so I called her up—apparently a cell phone—and told her what was going on. She replied, “First, how did you get my private number and, second, take the carton to [the apartment building manager].” And thank you very much, my dear; so glad you’re being helpful and catching my $2000 insulin delivery.
So my aide and I took the carton down to the office, where the administrative assistant repeatedly thanked me for my efforts. And that was the end of that.
Well, not exactly.
At 12:10 p.m. a Syracuse Police Officer showed up at my door. I did not want to let him in but I was too wobbly to remain standing, so I backed into my apartment and sat down. The police officer followed me in. He kept firing questions at me, demanding that I answer him. I was fully occupied in trying to figure out which buttons to push to save my television show and turn off the sound. With a brain full of simple syrup, that’s an overwhelming challenge. The cop is standing by my wheelchair, seeing me with an indwelling catheter, and not making any reasonable accommodation for my obviously disabled condition.
So I tell him the story, simply explaining what happened from when the carton was delivered to my neighbor’s door to when I delivered it to the management office. He tells me that I had no right, and I’m guilty of misdemeanor malicious mischief, and I’ve “contaminated” the product.
No, I didn’t, I say. It’s a bunch of insulin pens, sealed in boxes, sealed in plastic bags, and all I did was put them in my refrigerator to keep them fresh. The cop basically says, tell it to the judge, then says, “I’m going to get a warrant for your arrest then get another police officer and come back in twenty minutes to arrest you and take you to jail.”
The cop leaves me in a state of total terror. I’ve never in my life been arrested, and I don’t know what to do—not to mention that my brain, gorked out on high blood sugar—is not much use. I call my Power of Attorney, who doesn’t answer. I call Joe Lipari, administrator for the Citizen Review Board, and we discuss it. My homeopaths come to visit, offer Reiki, and leave. I take a nap. I don’t get arrested.
Now I’m going to file a complaint against that little bully-boy cop who abused his power and terrorized me. Put a uniform on a street thug and what do you get?
A Syracuse Police Officer.