Day Of The Rascal
By John R. Greenwood
This is a story about people who take advantage of the elderly. We can only hope there is a special hell for them. Here is an example. I call it the 'Day Of The Rascal'.
When my father’s health had deteriorated to the point where he couldn't walk more than a few feet without struggling for air, he began paying more attention to those scooter ads on television. You know the commercials I’m talking about, the ones showing a man or women freewheeling through the house twisting and turning like an osprey in flight among the tree tops. Life will be grand, as long as you have several in your wallet.
Well, dad had done his homework. He had been checking out the ads in AARP magazine and sent in a postage free card requesting more information about electric wheelchairs and scooters. He was like the teenage boy who wants a new car or motorcycle, he figured if he accumulated enough facts and pro-scooter testimonials he could justify plunking down his hard earned money. The fact is he didn't need to do anything but place an order and write out a check. It was his money, his life, and ultimately his decision. It was nice to know that he valued my opinion. He trusted I would help him make the right choice and look out for his best interest in the process. That was always my priority. Soooo, when he told me he had a salesman stopping by his apartment with some information on the wheelchair that could change his life I felt obligated to be there. As primary caregiver it was my responsibility to insure he was not taken advantage of. Dad was still sharp and had all his faculties in tact, but the guy who used to worry about his kid making bad choices had been showing signs of making some himself. It was becoming a reverse naivety. Because his contact outside his apartment was shrinking, so was his world. With my mother fifty miles away in a respiratory nursing home, his life was also under immense stress and strain. I think it was beginning to take a toll. He was particularly susceptible to anyone expressing an understanding of his situation. I had to watch carefully to insure he didn't write out another twenty dollar check for address labels from the Save the New Zealand Wombat Foundation.
On the day of his appointment with the scooter man, I was there waiting. I was standing in the kitchen preparing dinner when there was a buzz from the main door of the apartment complex. Dad answered the phone, hit the proper code, and let him in the building. Mr. Fullabull stood at the door with a sales folder in one hand and a small chocolate cake from Price Stopper in the other. With a used-car-salesman-grin and outstretched hand full of chocolate bribery he barged right in. It was like one of those old vacuum cleaner/encyclopedia piano-key-toothed door to door guys with the crepe paper thin suit coming back from the 1940's. I knew we were in for a ride on the bullshit train, full steam ahead.
Mr. Fullabull started right in with the over the top, "How are you doing this evening Mr. Greenwood?" It was so phony a vision of me pulling on my fishing waders flashed through my mind. This was going to be a battle.
Mr. Fullabull quickly entrenched himself and got right to his script. He knew just what to say to get dads attention and it worked-- for the moment. He opened up his catalog and began pulling out various brochures. Top of the line electric wheel chairs and accessories overflowed my fathers lap. The entire sales pitch revolved around improving your, "Quality of Life." He must have said that a dozen times in the first five minutes. He went on and on, and on, and on. When they go on for that long without coming up for air or allowing you to ask, "How much?", you know you're in trouble. Although dad was enamored by Fullabull in the beginning, I could see a look of panic setting in. Even he realized this guy was hardcore pushy and was not leaving without a sale. Finally I had had enough. My father was getting overwhelmed and hungry to boot. I interrupted Mr. Fullabull and asked him what dad and I really wanted to know, "How much was this Lazyboy with wheels and a motor?" When he choked up a price of $6,000, I almost croaked. Yes, but it was top of the line! Fullabull kicked into overdrive arrogant and said we could write a check and he would have a unit there within two weeks. He had an invoice already prepared. He wanted a signature and the money right then and there.
This was about the only time in our father-son relationship where my father gave me that look that said, "I'm in over my head. I need your help. Get me out of this now, please!" For once in my life I felt like Chuck Norris rescuing Grandpa Walton from a carjacker.
I stood up tall and puffed up my chest a little more than necessary. I looked Mr Fullabull square in the twitching eye and said,"My father simply wanted information on the different units so he could decide whether it was something that he could use and if it was something he could afford. We are not buying anything this evening. He is not writing any checks today or tomorrow. Leave your brochures. Leave your card. We will talk it over. I will let you know what we decide, end of discussion."
Mr. Fullabull was no wallflower. This guy was an NFL linebacker in a cheap suit. His face was pulsating. I never flinched. That's my father and he's had a rough go of it over the last year. Don't even think about it.
This is when he made the mistake of his career. He stands up and says,"Well, obviously you aren't the least bit concerned about your father's quality of life."
Dad's eyes popped out of his head. The veins in my forehead bulged like those in a horror film.
I strongly encouraged Mr. Fullabull to get his coat, his cake, and his about-to-get-kicked ass out of my fathers apartment expeditiously or I would be facing jail time. Luckily his hearing was excellent. He left faster than a $6,000.00 scooter on full charge.
After dad and I caught our breath and he finished his cold dinner we sat down and discussed what happened. He was relieved it was over. I think that day changed how we went forward as a team. He agreed to give me a few days to look online and do my own homework. What I found was a website where we could buy a unit online and have it delivered right to his front door. I found a much smaller version that was more practical for his needs. It was kind of neat looking besides. It was a perfect fit for him. It was also one-fourth the cost of the monstrosity Mr. Fullabull wanted to slip under the door. I will never forget that day. I will never forget the words, 'quality of life'. Fullabull is fortunate his quality of life wasn't significantly reduced that day. The 'Day of the Rascal'.