For Me to Tell

People who speak a language other than their native tongue are to be admired. But yesterday, when I called the foreign bank (with a domestic US headquarters office) to attempt to renew a CD I originally bought online, my admiration turned to frustration. I made the original purchase because the rate—5.00% APY—was among the highest I could get when I bought it a year ago; no point in investing with a local bank when I could earn an additional 4.25% by transferring money from my day-t0-day bank. And last year’s purchase was easy. Yesterday, though, when I tried to renew it online for 7 months at 5.30% APY, I encountered confusion, frustration, and annoyance. So I called the bank’s customer service number. The first time was a wash-out; the very nice woman with whom I spoke tried to communicate with me, but her accent was so heavy I could not understand her; she said she could not transfer me to anyone else who might be easier for me to understand. I sent an email to customer service, explaining the problem and asking for a number I could call to reach a native English speaker. The email response gave me the same number to call. I tried it. A different woman, equally pleasant but equally impossible to understand, attempted to help me. Without success, I finally hung up again. I then decided to close out my CD online, only to learn that I had to call the same number to reach a customer service representative to assist me. The third phone call yielded another pleasant woman, considerably easier to understand. I closed my CD account with the bank, transferring the funds to my local bank. I plan to visit a local bank on Monday to buy a slightly shorter-term CD at a slightly lower yield. The calls I made yesterday were transferred out of country—I suspect either Hong Kong or Singapore or the Philippines. The polyglot customer service representatives are no doubt paid less than domestic native English speakers would be paid, but I wonder how many customers and how many dollars are lost to frustration like mine? I admire those folks’ linguistic abilities, but I think their skills would better serve the bank if they were limited to written, not voice, communications.


Mi novia tends to laugh at my tendency to weep at the drop of a hat; I am sure I have mentioned that in more than one post. I wonder what it is that causes some people—like me—to be so damn sensitive? My thoughts on the matter range from believing ultra-sensitivity is intrinsic—a genetic trait, perhaps—to thinking it is a characteristic cultivated somehow through experience or that a core tendency is enhanced (or exaggerated) through repeated incidents that either are rewarded or, for lack of a better word, punished. The answers, I suspect, are no more than theories; considered beliefs that seem to make sense to the people who hold them. I change my mind quite a lot about the causes of what I call super-sensitivity; and my mind changes equally as often about the causes of what I tend to think of as apparent unkindness…callousness…hard-heartedness…insensitivity… and a dozen other such words. People who do not weep at what are, to me, powerfully emotional situations, are not necessarily unkind or uncaring; they simply have different levels of emotional triggers, right? Or is there a distinct characteristic that differentiates between people who are, like me, super-sensitive and those who maintain unflinching stoicism in circumstances that might bring others to their knees? Why does this issue weigh on me so much? What does it matter? Do other people care? And does it matter whether they do or not? Probably not. I suspect we’re all simply different. Our personalities are carved from the same materials. Or some are carved from stone and some are carved from clay. Or soap. Still, I want a definitive answer. Dammit. But in the immortal words of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, “You can’t always get what you want.”



I got a call from a friend yesterday afternoon, who phoned from a distant vacation spot to inquire how I was doing. Her call instantly boosted my spirits, even though my spirits were not especially low; but the call conveyed that I was on her mind and that she cared to know that my medical engagements were going well. Several other friends commented on yesterday’s blog, too, which was the first one I had written in several days. Again, reading those brief  comments brightened my day. And others who communicated with mi novia during the past several days inquired about me, too, adding “meat” to the reality that I am important to people who are important to me. Spending so much time either at home or sitting in treatment chairs in the oncologist’s office makes those brief inquiries especially meaningful. I am grateful for people who care; people who carve out a little time to get in touch are special sorts.


I find this man’s thinking unattractive and irritating. Is it just me, or is he as upsetting to decent people as I think he should be? I know just enough about him to attach unflattering labels to him.

Wallow too much in sensitivity and you can’t deal with life, or the truth.

~ Neal Boortz ~


Have you appeared in others’ dreams? Have others appeared in yours? What, if anything, might those facts mean? What might your insistence in keeping those facts private mean about you? There are so many things to think about, aren’t there? How many people wonder what cold pumice feels like? What sort of person would wonder about such a thing? If the process of dying were guaranteed to be painless, would more people be less frightened of it? If you could be assured that bouncing on a trampoline on your ninety-fifth birthday would fill you with joy, would you do what you have to do to live that long? Every idea probably has some merit; we just need to be willing to explore what that merit might be.


Hugs can be extremely curative. Just ask me. I’ll tell you.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to For Me to Tell

  1. Thanks, Penny. I hope to see you very soon! It’s always too long between hugs!

  2. Penny Beed says:

    Glad to see you back in the groove, John!

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