Wednesday, June 12, 2019

I Got Fired? And the Long Windy Road to Recovery

Probably the biggest thing that happened this past month was that amidst all my doctors visits post-surgery, I come to find out that my insurance had stopped. So here I am, days after a dentist appointment, receiving a phone call from my dermatologist's office requesting that I update my insurance being that my current insurance was no longer valid. It kind of caught me by surprise, and now I have some huge bills looming in my future.

Upon further research I discovered that I received a termination letter in late April from my "day job" at the surf school, stating I was terminated March 17th, two days after my surgery... this is pretty obscene, but, I have a sneaking suspicion that this "termination" was completely inadvertent. Be that as it may, I subsequently received an insurance revocation letter during the first week of May as well.

Getting terminated from the surf school is kind of a weird situation in of itself, and I'm not sure if it's legal really; being that I can't work due to my surgery? But, if I remember anything from the Twist Tie Rebellion -- an event in August of 2012 when I was last living on Kaua'i. I confronted my employer [RESTAURANT B] for disabling my acquisition of medical insurance which resulted in my subsequent on-site termination -- it's probably best not to cause a ruckus with my current situation. At this point in my life yeah, a cash out from a lawsuit would be nice, but, I really don't want to spend my time and energy fighting the uphill crusade for workers rights. In fact, when I reported the Twist Tie Rebellion to the labor board in 2012, it was explained to me that there wasn't anything that was going to happen: "you'll just get fired once your employer receives our cease and desist letter -- after putting two and two together, this kind of thing always happens..." Well so much for enforcing the law? So instead of doing anything real about my current situation, I'll just write about it on my blog that no one reads. Maybe I'll get threats of arrest like I did last time when I used my FaceBook as a platform for the "Twist Tie Rebellion" whose purpose was to publicly log/chronologize the events in which I whistle blew the restaurant I was working at at the time.

This is all in the past, and we've all moved on with our lives (statute of limits is two years right?) but... why not revisit a little blast from the past and take a trip down memory lane! After all, my current situation has got me thinking of that point in my life, so why not share it all with you! All aboard!

In the summer of 2012, I confronted my fraudulent employer [Restaurant B] about shifting them to my "official primary employer" for insurance purposes (I was working two jobs and the one other job [Restaurant C] did not hire me for part time work nor were they working me enough to qualify for 20 hours a week, but this one [Restaurant B] was definitely working me 20+ hours a week and had been for months)...

Shortly after confronting my employer [Restaurant B] I found that I was suddenly getting scheduled only once or twice a week. I thought to myself, "okay great... these guys are fucking with me. That's fine, I'll just pick up shifts." Which I was doing for about four weeks successfully (which is strangely the window of time for insurance eligibility), this suddenly happened...

A co-worked wanted me to work their shift, and I soon thereafter received a screen shot of their correspondence between themselves and management. Come to find out, my employer then made it a policy that I -- Brian -- was no longer allowed to work more than "2 shifts a week." This deliberately disabled me from working 20 or more hours a week. Two shifts a week would be 16 hours, maybe 18 at best... slimey! I was shocked. I then decided to report the fraudulent business to the labor board of Hawaii and later publicly document (and bring awareness to) the sequence of events with the help of FaceBook.

The back story goes like this: I first was working at restaurant A, then I got hired at restaurant B [fraudulent restaurant], I quit restaurant A, which was when I first asked to make B my primary employer, being that all I had was restaurant B at that time. Nothing was done at the time. I later got hired at restaurant C (which only worked me about 14 hours a week), I then asked to go primary again at B... but to no avail. I was working two jobs, but was receiving no medical insurance. After speaking to the labor board (as I mentioned above) they basically told me that if I moved forward with reporting fraudulent Restaurant B, that I would get fired, so I said fuck it and asked the labor board to give me two weeks time [to get fired/quit] before they issued their warnings. Amidst all this I had an outbreak of shingles (I think -- I'm not a doctor), and kind of for once actually wanted/needed to get medical treatment. So, to ultimately bring awareness to this ludicrous situation, I took to the internet! I guess a part of me (even now) want's to "get caught" by leaving a trail of bread crumbs online...

I spoke to lawyers on Oahu and Kauai, and none of them really inspired me to move forward with anything. It seemed that I would just be pouring time money into a whistle-blowing action -- none of the attorneys whom I had spoken to said anything about a lawsuit/payout.

So, I got sent home for a doctor's note (in which I would have to acquire without medical insurance from the very place sending me home). I was outraged and decided to rant on the internet. A few days later I receive:

I guess someone clued him in on my Facebook? I still laugh about this now. It's all very silly. And of COURSE petty. But, ultimately, who's in the wrong? Leave a comment below LOL.

As I say in the music world, I suppose we're not compatible / not like-minded. I don't know, when I think of these kinds of things my intuition is like, yo, isn't it your responsibility/duty as a Hawaii State business owner to insure their 20+ hour a week employees? It'd be one thing if that wasn't a thing, but it IS a thing! Anyway, as it stood, I still had my one shift a week to work, and I wasn't told not to come in or anything, so I still showed up for my shift which of course there was another employee there (well they were 30 mins late) to work my shift (again, I'm always the last to know). So... I waited for the management battle.

"[The road to] success isn't pretty, but you got some dirty fuckin' hands." -- Brian Roberts, Wednesday August 29th, 2012 at 7:55am.

Recent circumstance has taken me back to that time in mind, so thanks for traveling with me on that trip down memory lane. So here I am, without insurance and with some huge bills headed my way.

Currently, I decided that it would be best to enter the world of self-financed medical insurance; a true self-employed individual -- even if it's temporarily. How much? $560 a month! Which obviously is a lot cheaper than $12,000+ for an out-of-pocket uninsured bill, but... $560 isn't something nominal/negligible. I know people who play less than that for rent! So it got me thinking sociologically; talk about disincentive. Disincentive for 1) employers hiring/insuring employees 2) entrepreneurial pursuits 3) people having the freedom to not work. And various other things. Anyway, kind of fucked up.

The road to recovery is slow however, although I did "graduate" from physical therapy on June 5th. Now I'm awaiting my orthopedic follow up appointment to find out the course of healing over the next couple months. During this meeting I'm going to have to level with the surgeon about my medical insurance situation.

I was doing guitaraoke every weekday for a couple weeks, but I've dropped off after about three weeks of doing it. Wasn't getting enough traction/attention. I'll probably revisit it soon, I think I'm going to wait until I can get the tri-fuckta of Instagram, Facebook AND YouTube. Right now I only have Instagram and Facebook going at a time.

In May I did my first ever Skype guitar lesson. I guess I'm way late to the game as far as that is concerned. Who knows, this may be a great way to off-set some of those non-desirable time slots in Hawaii if I market to those on the west coast, which is where my first Skype guitar student is living. Time zone's working in my favor.

Speaking of guitar lessons, I also officially booked Hawaiian Brian's for the second ever BRGA recital. Still won't beat Osoyami as far as perfect venue, but... I gotta do it! It's been two years since I've held the first one.

I've managed to meet some interesting musicians since my past entry. One in particular is a vocalist saxophonists looking to put a band together. Here's a clip of an open mic thing we did the other night:

With the initial success of the backing track thing I decided to fully commit to live backing tracks with whatever concept projects I have in mind. I've been hitting the open mics now that I can bicycle around, and I've been featuring live backing track performances of the Movie's that Rocked concept (Movie Themes as done by a rock band), Hawaiian Punk Rock Band Concept, VGM Band Concept, etc. I've also found that my ability as a frontman has significantly diminished since the Leviathan days; I am way out of practice.

At some point between now and my last blog entry, I was making my rounds on the various musician network sites (craigslist, reverbnation, soundcoud, etc.) scouting for prospective musicians to work with and I found this kid who I thought would make a perfect addition for the punk rock band. I auditioned him, and he did great, and he seems to be completely on board. Hopefully it's for long term designs, but even if not, it's reinvigorated my drive for the Hawaiian punk rock band concept, and as a result, I've spent some time rearranged tracks and even managed to arrange a brand new one! Exciting stuff. This is probably why I stopped doing guitaraoke every morning.

What else is new? Aloha Karaoke Band has finally got some soft-gigs booked. We're going to feel out the crowd at the Dragon Upstairs on Tuesday June 25th and we're gonna try out the windward side at Boardriders in Kaneohe on June 28th. We have about 60 songs or so, so in my opinion we're in the beta testing phase, still not quite ready to mint. Coincidentally, it was brought to my attention that there's another live karaoke band that has residency on Monday nights at this place called Workplay. Naturally, I checked them out. Musically, they are far better than we are at this point, but, I saw some other things that Aloha Karaoke Band does (and needs to do) better.

There was about a week as well where I binged hard an old game I played: Shogun 2. I beat it again, so now it can lay undisturbed and unplayed for another 5 years or so.

I've also picked up a couple paying acoustic gigs so that's been real nice. Found myself playing at the Hilton sky bar; swanky!

Shar [and band] got re-invited for the fireworks show in July so that's pretty cool. I'm super excited for the Karaoke band to go live and the new lineup for the Hawaiian Punk Rock Band as well as finally setting a date for the next BRGA recital.

Anyway, that's all for now. I hope I can get this medical bill/insurance situation figured out because I'm gonna go broke otherwise haha. See ya next month!