The Shaft

Scott Royall

From: Scott Royall []
Sent: Wednesday, May 23, 2007 7:04 PM
To: !avaya-help
Butch Callegari (
Subject: My Accounts at PTFCU

Excuse me, but why was $527 unilaterally withdrawn from my checking account by PTFCU without authorization or notice? Now I will not have funds required to pay for my caregivers payroll next Wednesday. Does your Risk Management department intend to provide for my daily care? If not, they need to quickly learn that debt collection does not legally supersede the money a disabled person needs to just survive. I strongly suggest that said money be returned post haste and no further collections be attempted without my agreement. Otherwise, PTFCU attorneys will have to justify depriving a disabled person of care before a judge and the news media. I don’t envy them on that task.

I have repeatedly asked that Risk Management communicate with me via email instead of wasting their time on calls and certified letters. I never got any response to that request.

I again point out that the surest route to recovering what I owe PTFCU would be to simply employ my considerable information technology education and experience. Failing that, PTFCU is going to become much more aware of how expensive it is just for a disabled member to function. You cannot assume that a positive balance in my accounts equates to money not encumbered by impending critical expenses. It rarely does.

If we do not amicably resolve this matter by Monday, May 28th, you should expect to hear from my attorney.


Do Even Virtual Dogs Teach Nobility to Their People?


I hope you realize you’ve earned a big, sloppy, virtual kiss for this news. My life will continue to be difficult, but it will continue. Given the current daily maximum benefit, and likely future cost-of-living increases, that’s at least another decade of independent living. To be sure, being my own provider is a mixed blessing at best, but it is about as independent as a disabled person can get.

Thank you, Snoopy. Good dog. Good dog. Here’s a virtual bone.


—–Original Message—–

From: Cynthia J Taylor

Sent: Thursday, June 21, 2007 3:51 PM


Cc: ‘Diana S Andrusyshyn’; ‘Susan Feller’

Subject: RE: MLB requested information

Dear Mr. Royall,

A review of your policy notes that the Maximum Lifetime Benefits is calculated based on a the nursing home daily benefit amount, times 10 year or (3650 days). This establishes your total Lifetime benefit maximum amount; however, this does not mean that benefits stop after 10 years.

Therefore, your current remaining lifetime benefit amount is $404, 774.52.

we will continue to process claims until this amount has been totally exhausted.

I trust this is the clarification you were seeking.

Cynthia J. Taylor

Manager LTC Claims

Benefit Administration

On Visiting Shell Property


Please forward this email to the appropriate Shell departments, including Legal.

I received the letter dated June 27, 2007. This message is not intended to be a legal response as it is in electronic form. The content is intended to inform and clarify, as public awareness of matters related to disability is usually quite low.

As a former Shell employee, I am aware of its visitor policy, particularly at the Westhollow Technology Center. Thank you for the three-page reminder. As it happens, I do not foresee any need to visit Shell property again as I have concluded my business with Peoples’ Trust Federal Credit Union. About the only thing that could possibly change that is if Shell attempted to rehire me.

Your letter also evidenced a number of common misconceptions about the details of service dogs. Misconceptions that also marred my last encounter with your ABM contract security people.

First, contrary to what one of your guards stated, there are many more varieties of service dogs than just guide dogs. Indeed, the variety is virtually endlessly, and it is primarily defined by the needs of each owner/handler. That means that the designation “service dog” refers to a spectrum of capabilities rather than a few well-segregated categories.

Second, that wide-ranging reality requires that the certification process has to be equally open-ended and flexible. Other than the few standardized categories, such as the guide dogs, training has be done by the handler in consultation with a licensed working-dog trainer. Certification is then done when handler and trainer agree that the trainee dog is ready to do whatever the handler needed it for.

My trainer is Malinda Julien, CEO of US Tactical K9, an award-winning school used by law enforcement and federal agencies. She’s licensed in every training facet imaginable, and is comfortable with my training ability.

In my case, I have two dogs. One is an aging veteran who understands her role better than most people do, and is quite certified. More than once, well-intentioned Shell employees have accosted me with their beliefs that the dog cannot go on. These people know nothing about me or the animal, and they dismiss my obligation as the handler in a very complex relationship to understand my dog as precisely as humanly possible.

The other animal is a trainee. She may not succeed the veteran, but that has to be determined. Service dogs are not trained in a vacuum, nor are they trained in billion-dollar simulations that only companies like Shell could afford. They are trained by the handler first establishing trust and dominance. This is the main purpose of the service dog schools. Then, the handler has to repeatedly take the animal through every situation it is expected to handle, guiding and honing its responses. Only then is certification to even be considered.

Again, I have no plans to return to Shell property. But, if I must, please show some of the awareness that Shell used to have.

Scott Royall

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RIP: Anna Fitzgerald

Anna was the first of my dual caregivers. That is, she was the first I hired after I went to two people. She did her job well for the four months that she was here, but it turned out that I was a way stop for her.

Anna’s life was rather sad in that she was one of those women who are drawn to abusive partners. Her long-time partner of 15 years was a self-destructive drug user whose most significant gift to Anna was AIDS. It was to her credit that Anna’s meticulous attention to her medication and diet allowed her to fight that killer disease to a stalemate.

Anna broke her neck in a car accident two years ago. Although she had family and friends, they could not care for her. Instead, she was shuffled from one Medicare-funded nursing home to another in Houston  and Austin. I made the grim prediction that Anna would die within five years from infection when I heard of her situation  I was only off in guessing the time, because she died in ICU last night after battling infections caught in nursing homes. It’s true enough that Anna’s immune system wasn’t in the best shape, but she was healthy before the wreck. The reality is that any group care scenario is really a warehouse of people waiting to die, because sharing anything, even caregivers, means sharing infections. Even the best hospitals are struggling with it. Less well-funded institutions, especially those funded by Medicare, are very short-staffed and overwhelmed. Mortality rates are always highest at those places.

Rest in peace, Anna. I hope I don’t go that way. This is just another reason why I feel caregivers must answer only to the persons they provide care for.