As I take a step back to ponder how all of this rejection therapy is impacting me, I hit a rather dark thought: it seems that I am getting around being rejected by manipulating
people. Not sure this is a life/survival skill I truly want to cultivate . . .
I mention my qualms to a couple of students on the beach Sunday morning. One quickly points out that I’m not manipulating but negotiating. She’s a friend, so I know she wants to spin this in a way that will preserve my integrity. But then, she’s also a lawyer.
So what, I wonder, is the difference between manipulating and negotiating? To me it comes down to strategy: if I’m playing off someone’s emotions, soliciting pity, charity, guilt-induced offerings, it feels like manipulation. If I’m presenting a legitimate demand clearly and truthfully, it’s negotiation. Thing is, I deliberately set up rejection challenges that are neither legitimate nor reasonable and are sometimes outright ridiculous, thus requiring me to lower my integrity bar to get the job done.
I’m hoping that when real-life rejection scenarios come my way, I’ll have the wherewithal to know the difference, get what I deserve, and not enmesh myself in a swamp of codependent quicksand.
Wish me luck!
DAY SIXTY-SEVEN (TUESDAY 23 MAY)
PART ONE: ASK GYN OFFICE MANAGER FOR A DISCOUNT
Something about asking for things makes asking for more things easier. Maybe this is the whole point of the Rejection Challenge, and, having grasped this deep truth, I have graduated. Can I quit now? Alas, even as I write this I understand the irony: I’m so eager to quit or be done with asking so I can go back to a life of never asking, and never have to ask for anything again. Which means I’ve basically failed the Rejection Challenge and either have to start over at Day One or even sign up for a remedial, pre-K level course.
Anyway, as part of the end-of-spring-in-the-city doctor-visit roundup mentioned before, I weasel my way into an appointment with my GYN on short notice. The short notice because I inadvertently forgot we had an appointment for last week. So they agree to squeeze me in. And I’m as always running late and concerned about making it to my next yoga lesson on time.
As I’m dutifully filling out the intake form, the desk person calls me over to announce that they don’t take my current insurance. I’m sure there’s some mistake because before switching plans I made a point of calling all of my doctors to be sure they were in-network, and I chose this plan accordingly.
I explain this, and say that I was told by this office that they took Empire Blue Cross HMOs.
“We do, ” she replies. “Just not this one.”
“I don’t understand.”
“See this code?” she asks, pointing to a 3-digit something or other on the bottom right corner of the card. “We don’t take those plans.”
“Jesus,” (this said as quietly as possible under my breath, as I’m trying my best not to get testy with her). “No one told me that.“
I can see we’re at an impasse. What to do? I don’t have time before I leave for the summer to hunt down an in-network provider, have my records transferred, and book an appointment. I don’t want to wait until late September for a PAP smear. It’s come down to money.
“Well, how much will it cost if I just pay out of pocket?”
“The visit is $325. The lab tests will be covered by your insurance.”
“Jeeezz-us. Can you possibly offer me a discount, since I’m a long-term patient and I didn’t know?”
“That is our discounted rate.”
Probably true, given what Upper East Side doctors charge. I weigh the hassles, delays, and time invested in seeking out alternative care and decide to bite the bullet.
Then it turns out that they only take cash. And they require payment before I see the doctor. Really? Being one of the few people I know who still actually carries cash, I optimistically rifle through my purse, hoping I’ll have something close, which could happen if recent clients have paid in cash. Alas, I’m far short. I hand over what I have ($75) and agree to go down the block to the ATM afterward to retrieve the balance.
Of course I spend the rest of my time in the waiting room steaming. And doing the pointless but weirdly comforting math of the day’s profit versus loss: tallying up what I will earn from teaching, subtracting the doctor bill less what would have been a $50 copay, I still come out in the black. Then I do the time-tested spiritual practice of “letting go.” Someone made a mistake. I’m paying the price. There are no alternatives. At least no one was hurt. Let’s move on.
By the time I get to see the doctor, I’m more or less over it. We chat about East Hampton, where she too spends her downtime. Turns out her daughter is getting married, and they’ve been scrounging around for an affordable place to host the ever-popular beach wedding. Of course “affordable” and “Hamptons” never appear in the same sentence, and they’re getting nowhere. I pipe up that a friend has a waterfront restaurant that could be perfect–and not crazy pricey as it’s up in the Springs, East Hampton’s ostensibly low-rent district. She’s tickled, and I promise to connect them. Our lively chatter almost distracts me from that cold, searing pain when she thrusts the metal instrument up into my cervix. Almost, but not quite.
On the way out I mention that I won’t be seeing her again because I’ll have to find a GYN in my network. She looks truly disappointed. “I love coming here,” I say sincerely, but I just can’t afford to pay out of pocket.”
“How much did they charge you?” she asks.
“$325, but I only had $75 so I have to–“
Before I can finish the sentence she interrupts, “That’s ridiculous. I’ll deal with this.” And I follow as she marches back to reception, my chart in hand, and ushers me out the door.
(Rejections: 1, from desk staff; Acceptances: 1 (squeezing me into schedule); Unsolicited Offerings: 1 (doctor-initiated discount))
PART TWO: ASK BLOOMINGDALE’S MAC COSMETICS COUNTER TO MAKEOVER GOOD SIDE OF MY FACE TO LOOK LIKE BAD SIDE; THEN ASK TO MAKE BAD SIDE LOOK LIKE GOOD SIDE.
Later that afternoon I have a gap between lessons. I’m a few blocks from Bloomingdale’s, where I’ve planned one of my most ingenious rejections, with some inspired input from my massage therapist. The left side of my face is still bruised, with the black around the eye having sort of dripped down into weird green and yellow streaks that converge at my chin–picture a topographical map of South America with my chin being Patagonia.
It occurs to me that this would be the perfect time to trust in the “makeover” skills of a professional makeup artist. Bloomingdale’s entire first floor is devoted to just such creatures, each motivated to make us look our best and score a big sale in the process.
My goal: to get the bruised side of my face to look as good as the other side. Sharing this with Tim, he jumps ahead and suggests I ask them to make the good side match the bad. This is just too good to pass up. I quickly set my sights on the MAC counter, as MAC is known for its sometimes lurid use of color, and God knows my current purples, blues, greens, and yellows are far from the natural skin-tone spectrum.
I approach the sales person with a straight face, and explain: “I have this bruise on my face, and people are staring at me. Can you make the other side match it, so they won’t look at me funny anymore?”
She peers at me closely, then says with compassion, “Oh sweetie, if I do that, they’re going to really look at you funny.”
“Hmm. Then what do you suggest?”
“Let me try to cover up the bruised side.”
So I snap a quick “before” selfie, plop down in the chair, and close my eyes. I delight in sitting still while she busily opens and shuts pots and tubes and tickles my face with circular finger rubs and whisper-soft brushes.
Twenty minutes later, she’s done. I open my eyes, and lo! Mission accomplished! Of course, my skin, buried under ample pancake and powder, has that doughy look seen on social dowagers, but the color is true to my normal skin tone.
I pop an “after” selfie and await the awkward moment where she will urge me to invest in hundreds of dollars of product. To my surprise, she doesn’t! In fact, she forages through some storage drawers and comes up with a free sample of “corrector” (I’m sure there’s a metaphor buried in that word). Maybe I’m too pathetic, or just too apparently nuts, to exploit. I thank her profusely and enjoy the rest of the day as a normie, until it’s bedtime and I have to wash away her handiwork like dissolving a Buddhist sand painting.
(Rejections: 1 (she won’t make the good side look like the bad side; Acceptances: 1 (she suits up to do the right thing, eagerly and selflessly) )
DAY SIXTY-EIGHT (WEDNESDAY 24 MAY)
Synapse lapse here. No memory of the day at all.
DAY SIXTY-NINE (THURSDAY 25 MAY): ASK TWO GUYS ON THE LIRR TO MOVE THEIR STUFF SO I CAN STRETCH OUT LEGS WITH MY “BAD” HIP
Memorial Day weekend is upon us. From hard-won experience, I know not to wait till Friday to take the train out to East Hampton, as I’ll end up in the luggage area elbow-to-elbow with a throng of overly animated vacationers recently sprung from office cubicles and diminutive apartments.
So I plan ahead and leave on Thursday. Alas, a few hundred other clever souls had the same idea, and the train is packed. When we arrive for the switcheroo at Jamaica, I speed across the tracks and peer through train windows in hopes of a vacant seat.
I know not to expect my usual four-seater expanse, where I can stretch out my legs, pop open my laptop, and strew papers and books all around, creating an office on rails. I also know that most people prefer the upper deck, so I plan to head to the subterranean section.
Lots of truly clever, or more determined souls, already boarded at Hunter’s Point and snagged the best seats. I do however spot a three-seater at the head of one car. Except that someone has laid their golf bag across two seats, monopolizing the area.
I glance across the aisle, where a couple of gentlemen are quietly texting away.
“Is this your bag?” I ask.
“Do you mind if I move it? I have a bad hip and need a little extra room to stretch my leg.”
“Oh, no problem!” answers one, springing out of his seat to remove the bag. Score one for manipulation, but what a peaceful ride out it was! (Rejections: 0, Acceptances: 1)
POLL SUMMER 2016 HAMPTONS PRIVATE CLIENTS TO SEE WHO WANTS TO RESUME
Summer is a funny time for me, as friends, new housemates, and students old and new descend on the Hamptons. Each summer I find myself adrift among new constellations, glomming onto this clique here, that coterie of clients there. It’s more than a bit random, and continuity at an all-time low.
Nonetheless, I do try to keep a list of last summer’s clients, many of whom come from far beyond the Tristate area, and reach out to see if they’d like to pick up where we dropped off last Labor Day. The results can be both gratifying and humbling. I’m delighted with those who write back immediately and reserve dates, frustrated but understanding of those who for one reason or another are not able to do private yoga this year, and humbled by the ominous silence from those who never respond at all. Out of probably 8 or 10, this year’s averages are, well, average. (Rejections/No Response: 4, Acceptances: 4, Rejections with Legitimate Reasons: 2)
DAY SEVENTY: RECEIVE FORMAL REJECTION LETTER FROM FORMER PRIVATE CLIENT, IN RESPONSE TO REJECTION BLOG
Okay, all memory of this incident not only blotto from my mind but from my inbox. Someone must have gauged I’d gone over the deep end with my rejection challenges and deemed me no longer in compos mentis to teach yoga. Ah, the perils of sharing! Thank God this one outnumbered by the enthusiastic supporters egging me along with each installment. ☺
DAY SEVENTY-ONE (SUNDAY 28 MAY) ASK AIRBNB AUSTRALIA HOST FOR DISCOUNT
I’m heading to Australia to teach for a few weeks. My workshop coordinator finds an Airbnb for me online, and asks me to ask the host for a discount, since I am booking an extended stay.
This backfires big time. I receive a petulant cross-hemisphere email from the host. First, he’s pissed off that my coordinator already approached him about a discount. Second, he’s pissed off that I’m repeating the request. “That’s not how airbnb works!” he exclaims. Dunno, he’s probably right, but in any case it’s too late. The damage is done. And I’ll be paying retail, thank you! (Rejections: 1, Acceptances: 0)
DAY SEVENTY-ONE (MONDAY 29 MAY) AIRBNB HOSTS REJECTS DISCOUNT AND CANCELS MY VISIT
Things go from bad to worse. I wake up to a second email from said host. He’s decided he’s just not “comfortable” hosting a money-grubbing entitled American (my adjectives). Plus some friends want his place for the same dates. So he’s cancelling my reservation, and I’m homeless in Melbourne. The bright side? Airbnb gives me a “host-cancellation fee” and I snag a cheaper place with a lovely couple just down the street. (Unsolicited Rejections: 1, Acceptances: 0, Profit: $50)
DAY SEVENTY-TWO (TUESDAY 30 MAY): ASK DOCTOR AND PT TO SQUEEZE ME IN TOMORROW
I know you’re tired of me and my doctor visits, but this is how the final ones wound down. During my last week in town, I desperately tried to snag a visit with a dermatologist and a final session with my shoulder physical therapist. Maybe I’ve exhausted my doctor manipulation quota, but I get two less than friendly “no’s.” Woe to my shoulder, woe to this nagging nail infection. I’m on my own. (Rejections: 2, Acceptances: 0)
DAY SEVENTY-THREE (WEDNESDAY 31 MAY): ASK A CELEBRITY TO TAKE A SELFIE WITH ME (GRACE CODDINGTON)
I was skeptical that this one would ever pan out. I’m skittish around celebrities. And being in a bit of a TV/movie vacuum, I wouldn’t recognize most of them if they bumped into me.
But there I am, one sunny spring morning, idling down Eighth Avenue in Chelsea on my way home from a private lesson, when I spot a woman of a certain age with long, wavy red hair and porcelain-white skin. Is that . . .?
She’s walking her dog toward me, so I take a sidelong glance as she passes by. Yup, it’s gotta be Grace Coddington. Now, if you don’t follow fashion, that name will mean nothing to you. But in the one area where I am media saturated (I have seven print subscriptions to fashion magazines and actually read most of them), she’s a superstar. A model who became American Vogue’s lead stylist, Ms Coddington labored in the shadow of the notorious editor Anna Wintour (parodied in The Devil Wears Prada) for decades, creating spread after fashion spread for dozens of issues. Then, in response to TDWP, Vogue staged its own documentary, The September Issue, featuring both ladies, to show us the real deal. Suddenly Grace was in the spotlight, receiving attention and credit for her years of inspired work. She followed up with a memoir and became a household name.
So, I was a bit hesitant to approach her, figuring most celebrities hide from random fans. But it’s still rejection season, so I had no choice.
I pivoted around, caught up with her, smiled and asked, “Are you Grace Coddington?”
“Yes,” she said, with a big smile. Like she was truly happy to be recognized.
“I’m a big fan,” I offered. “Would you mind if I took a selfie of us?”
“Not at all!”
She leaned in, we smiled, I shot the photo. As we parted, I somehow still felt the need to bond. Knowing that she and her partner also spend time in the Hamptons, I added in parting, “I live out East part-time too.”
Another smile, and two days just got a little brighter.
(Rejections: 0, Acceptances: 1)