July 9, 2012

Caste System Re-Loaded. ~ Nickie Medici

Photo credit: LaDawna Howard

There is a little thing called “Obama-care” cooking and apparently burning lots of people’s asses.

Facebook abounds with comments from people worried about scavengers and drug dealers getting health care.

For the sake of candor, I use Facebook to promote my blog and yoga workshops. I also like to look at pictures of my nephews and niece. I do not engage in protracted arguments on Facebook because they are usually dumb.

My sister posted this on her Facebook in response to many posts about the scavenging of health care:

My sister was diagnosed with cancer when she was 11 and survived thanks to the care she received at Shands in Gainesville.

At the time my mom had insurance through her job with the government. Imagine sitting in the billing office of the hospital and being told how much you owe after insurance while your child is dying because your insurance only covers so much money and unfortunately having cancer is expensive.

That’s called an insurance lifetime cap. Today that no longer exists. Everyone ranting and raving today just take a second and think about people who are not “lazy and wanting handouts” since that’s what people seem to be concerned with.

Of course, she is also talking about my sister, too; her big sister and my little sister who had the cancer and how this was a very real part of our reality when we were children. Brittany, the sister with the cancer, went in for an experimental procedure that killed other children on the same floor at the same time she was in the hospital.

That happened.

Now, do you want to know what happened on that Facebook thread?

All hell broke loose.

People started writing about handouts and people living on the backs of people who have jobs and blah blah blah. Someone went completely off the rails and began ranting about immigrants causing hospitals to close because they can’t pay their bills.

When “immigrants” came up, things got interesting. No one likes immigrants and no one remembers that we are all descended from immigrants, unless you’re part Native American like yours truly, but also my great-grandfather came over here from England which makes me an immigrant by proxy anyway.

Someone else got all hyper about doctors and how their income will suffer. Someone else said something about how Obama doesn’t care and this program isn’t going to help doctors at all. To this my sister responded, “I’m not talking about doctors. Doctors don’t need help.”

And then she promptly closed the thread.

When my mom was coping with a million dollar procedure to save my little sister’s life, she needed help.

My mother was a nurse at the Escambia County Health Department and to do this job, my mother drove into the ghetto.

By “ghetto” I don’t mean run down little houses.

I mean, like Elvis sang about—babies dying and mammas crying type ghetto. And my mother drove into the ghetto to check on these babies—drug exposed infants—to make sure they didn’t, in fact, die in the ghetto.

That was her job; home visits to crack houses where babies live.

These babies and even the crack mammas that birthed ‘em are people my mother served before Brittany was diagnosed with the cancer.

It’s easier to deny people assistance when they don’t seem as much like people but “scavengers, criminals, ne’er-do-wells.”

But we’re all people. As little as I know about politics, I know a lot about people. I’ll reveal a few things about which you might not be aware, through no fault of your own, of course.

As a server in a restaurant, I’ve found the best tippers are lower to middle class folks who work for minimum wage or above.

How do I know in which class they fit, you might ask? Process of elimination, dear Watson.

The lady with the Coach purse and nine-hundred-dollar dye job will leave 10 percent.

She won’t tip as much as she spends on a glass of wine. Those super fancy shoes with the famous red soles will walk someone in and out of the restaurant without leaving a tip at all. She asks for things without making eye contact.

When I ask how her meal is, she waves me away with a flick of her wrist.

A man with the BMW key chain conspicuously laid out on the table will scribble $2.00 on the tip line and walk out like he’s dropped a big turd.

The exception to this upper class system?

People who have worked their asses off for what they have and know the trenches people work in so they can have the life they live.

What the hell good does it do to be rich and famous without minions, after all?

The lady with the ostentatious purse who asks for more soup with a “may I” got herself through college slinging drinks in a tittie bar or hot stepping food from the kitchen to the dining room.

The guy with the cologne that cost more than my car leaves a little extra; probably he was a bus boy heaving tubs of used plates and cups from the dining room to the kitchen.

Hard work yields a little humanity.

Sometimes, people who have worked hard and now find themselves in the lap of luxury might so sincerely want to separate themselves from that line of poverty and the shame they associate with it that they might find themselves cut off from their human-ness.

I will tell you my very un-political opinion: the problem I see more often than not is that someone who has stuff is afraid that someone with less stuff is going to take their stuff.

They are afraid they’re gonna lose their stuff or have to pay some of their stuff to help people with absolutely no stuff at all.

I don’t know the slightest bit about this Obama-care—I should be ashamed, I know I know.

But I’m not.

What people complain about the most is that they’re gonna have to pay more, give more or be taxed a bit more on that Mercedes to pay for the health care that’s being put on the table.

The people who seem to approve of this program are people who work and contribute, but also know that the day might arrive when all of their working and trying to make ends meet isn’t enough.

They are intrinsically aware of how that sense of lack might touch themselves or their family. They understand the helplessness of suddenly not having or being enough.

People who have always had and been enough don’t care as much. They walk around on red-soled shoes and think about all those people begging for handouts, picking and pulling on the efforts of those who have a job.

My mom had a job when the billing department told her she wasn’t enough to save my little sister’s life. She had health insurance, too. The government assistance she got to supplement her income and insurance saved my sister’s life.

Mom never complained about the taxes she paid that went to food stamps and medical programs for those children in the ghetto where she visited.

Mom knew what it was like not to have anything, so what she had she didn’t begrudge sharing.

I don’t begrudge sharing and why should I?

If someone told me a stranger stubbed their toe and 20 dollars of my hard earned money would fix their toe, I’d hand it over.

Perhaps I’m over simplifying.

I am ignorant of politics but I know about people. What I see to be the biggest problem with the current human condition is this constriction caused by worrying about someone else getting a hold of our stuff.

You can’t take your stuff with you, but it can count while you’re here.

At one time, Nickie felt thwarted by her soft heart and kind instincts, but has found that if she keeps the faith in humanity she is often pleasantly surprised. In her current position as a waitress in a knock off Italian joint, she meets the most pleasant and awful people on the planet who never fail to inspire her writing in one way or another. On leave from the indignities of food service, she leads yoga classes where participants are as sunny as the skies of Florida, where Nickie resides and writes her blog icyexhale.com. If she’s not standing on her head at work, you’ll find her doing much the same thing on her yoga mat, though from a much different perspective. The child in the picture is Yasmeen, Brittany’s daughter—after all the experimental treatments doctors told her she would never have children. The child Brittany was never supposed to have is the very same one flailing around with the author of this post.

Editor: Jamie Morgan

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