Here’s a little pop quiz, kids.
If I am on the phone waiting to speak with a “customer advocate,” I am trying to reach which of the following parties:
- Better Business Bureau
- Small Claims Court
- Health insurance company claims adjuster
- China Palace carry out counter
First, we eliminate the obvious. An “advocate” is one who pleads the cause of another. That’s probably not going on at either #3 or 4, so cross them out. The word “customer” indicates a business as opposed to a legal situation, so cross out #2. That leaves #1, the Better Business Bureau, right? Wrong.
Welcome to the wacky world of “euphemish.”
Regular readers of this blog know that I am the world’s foremost authority on the “Euphemish” language, because I told you so. Feel free to read all about it here and here. For those interested in the Cliffs Notes version:
Euphemish noun \’yü-fə-mish\
a: A language, or dialect, featuring the substitution of an agreeable or inoffensive expression for one that may offend or suggest something unpleasant.
Synonyms: Sugarcoat, spin, mislead, lie
Origin: from the Greek, euphēmos auspicious, sounding good.
I had a little accident in the kitchen, so I called my health insurer’s claims department. I wanted to know what my plan would pay before I sought medical treatment. It was just a scratch, but I thought it best to get the question settled sooner rather than later.
I’m not going to name the insurance company; suffice it to say they’re big. Really big. I navigated their phone system until I finally reached the claims department. Their on-hold message promised my call would be handled by the next available “customer advocate.”
I thought claims adjustors were employees; mere corporate tools, forced to toe whatever party line “the man” laid down on claims. I assumed their job description would be, “Avoid paying even one, thin dime to the working stiffs who made this country great. Maximize profits for corporate big wigs so they can fly around in the company jet, eating caviar and drinking champagne from the Jimmy Choos of high-priced floozies.”
This company’s claims department is staffed with “advocates”. They’re on my side.
As my on-hold wait extended into its 3rd hour, I thought about my “advocate” (while alternatively loosening and tightening the tourniquet.) I picture her as an earnest young woman with long hair and Birkenstocks, who chose to work for the Indigo Plus Sign Insurance Company of Illinois as a way to give back to society after graduating from an Ivy League school.
My “advocate” would represent me in front of the fat cat, claims review board, pounding the table and shouting “Peg has been paying $1317 per month for 8 years for this policy. Now that she needs us, we can’t turn our backs on her. She needs proper care, she deserves proper care, and dammit, I won’t rest until she gets it. With God as my witness, we will APPROVE that Band-Aid for her! (after the $30 Residential Dressing copay)”
Right then I knew; this time was different. It wasn’t “euphemish”. This time, “customer advocate” meant just that.
Am I wrong to hope? Could this be nothing more than the fantasy of a starry-eyed idealist? Maybe. Or it could be blood loss. We’ll find out just as soon as it’s my turn to talk to my “advocate”. I’ve been on hold for 4 days.