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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

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In my face.



When Patrick left his corporate job and went freelance, we lost our medical insurance. This was no small anxiety trigger for me, a Canadian raised on stories of how uninsured Americans, denied treatment, routinely bled to death in emergency rooms. Fortunately, our state has a very good medicaid program for children, and our kids were able to get on it after a couple of months. The plan is extremely comprehensive, and as much as I want Patrick to make money hand over fist his first year in business, I will be sad when we exceed the income threshold and get booted back out into the private system.

Even dental care is covered, but not through our beloved family dentist, who keeps a small, genteel practice in the upper class neighborhood known loftily as The Heights. So when the boys check up came due, I made the appointment with a pediatric dental clinic who takes medicaid patients.

Remember that until I moved to the U.S. at the age of 26, I had never seen a medical bill. Everyone in Canada, rich or poor, receives "free" medical care. I don't naturally associate public health insurance with a particular socio-economic group. So I was completely unprepared to spend three hours in a waiting room packed shoulder-to-shoulder with poor people and their children.

Let's say it was what my girlfriend calls an AFGO: another fucking growth opportunity. You could also say that I had to spend three hours face to face with my own prejudices and hypocrisy. I'd rather have been in the dentist's chair all that time, with no anaesthetic.

If you have met me in person, or have read more than a couple of entries on this blog, you have most likely inferred that I am a good liberal. As a matter of fact, I was raised a good socialist. (By way of creds, just this morning my mother emailed to tell me that Canada's new "conservative" Prime Minister has instituted annual payments of $1200 per child to parents to help out with daycare. My mother was wrote "how insulting" it was--daycare costs at least twice that amount!) I am also a Jesus-loving, Bible-reading, church-going Christian. Some theologians believe that Jesus had a preference for the poor. That always made sense to me. It only stands to reason that people who had little or nothing to lose are going to be more receptive to the Good News (which to a middle-class gal like me sounds like Somewhat Worrisome News, and I'm guessing to a rich person comes across like The Chaos and Anarchy Tribune).

But as I sat in the waiting room chair, trying to quell a rising panic attack, I thought, surely Jesus was hanging out with a different class of poor people than I was surrounded by at that moment. Surely, his poor people were hip, articulate, college-degreed and socially-conscious, like the poor people I am friends with, who could have been stock brokers and corporate attorneys if they had so chosen, but decided instead to be artists, or stay at home parents, or embrace some other countercultural vocation. Surely, Jesus wasn't talking about the poor who are stressed out and strung out, trashmouthed, tacky and ignorant, hitting and screaming at their pitiful children incessantly--surely not those poor, who were stuck with me and my silent loathing in that horrible waiting room.

Crap. Now I have to go back and read all the gospels again, recasting the extras so they have mullets and are screaming, "Sit down or I'll whip your ass" to their fat children while Jesus is trying to talk.

Sometimes growing spiritually is fun, like being able to reach the cookie jar for the very first time. Other times it's more like waking up to a face full of pimples.

Please pass the Clearasil.

soulspirit, money, fearloathing

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2 Comments:

Blogger bluebird said...

how powerful! it made me cry.........

6:43 PM  
Blogger amanda said...

brilliant.

that is all.

7:44 PM  

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