Above: 't Blauwe Theehuis, last Thursday, the first Springish day of 2014.
So I'm on the phone with The Obamacare People because I just figured out this morning at 5am: hey, you're an American citizen and The Gummint will be wondering why your ass isn't all signed up for this shit. Of course I realized this on the last day of open enrollment, so there's no telling how long I'll be on the phone with them (available Skype credit at beginning of call: €6.03).
Thus, I thought I might jot down a few notes about my experience. Note Number One has to do with the incredible hold music. It sounds like a Lee Ritenour/Dave Grusin record that has been left out in the sun for nine days, transmitted to my Skype headphones via shortwave radio, shot through with bursts of static.
How does one even get music to sound this destroyed in 2014? It is obviously not that they have a record player sitting there on repeat with one busted-ass GRP record dropping the needle on itself over and over: so how is this happening? It is just about the least-reassuring hold music I've ever heard, in terms of making you think that the people you're about to talk to might be able to help you solve whatever problem you're having.
35 MINUTES LATER: The hold music is not only completely obliterated-sounding, it's the same 45-second loop over and over (although slightly different every time b/c of warping), punctuated by "Please stay on the line, our next available representative will assist you" every 90 seconds. Quite something. Skype credit still €6.03, the only redeeming part of this experience thus far.
AFTER 51 MINUTES: The whole thing is slightly less entertaining now. To combat this decline in enthusiasm I have picked up the guitar and am now playing along with hold music.
AFTER 67 MINUTES: Human contact. Told me he was pretty sure that if I wasn't "lawfully present" that I probably didn't have anything to worry about. But he'd have to check. Cue more hold music, different but just as distressed-sounding. But hey, more than one song so that's something.
72 MINUTES: We're supposedly exempt since we live in another country. Frankly, I don't believe that they're not going to penalize us come tax time, and then we'll have to contest it, but I guess we'll find out yo.