Monday 26 Sep 2016

Pushing Papers
AJ Robinson

Recently, I had to take a job that, I suppose you could say, was below my usual pay grade. I’m an engineer for twenty years, used to earning a decent middle class living. This job was as a document preparer and scanner for, well, I won’t mention the company, it has strict confidentiality requirements. The point is it was a very basic, menial job requiring nearly no training. Officially, though, I was employed, again, but I was most definitely under-employed!


Yet, I tried to follow the old say about making lemonade when given lemons. Some of the work was interesting, the people were decent and the conditions weren’t that bad at all. As it happened, one job we were working on was medical files for a hospital.

Again, for privacy I won’t mention any names. Most of the files were birth records; the documents created when a family comes to the hospital to have a baby. Many of the Check In Forms contained the phrase: “Baby Boy” or “Baby Girl”; the infant didn’t have a name at the moment of birth.

In later pages, a name would appear as did how well the baby did and, finally, a discharge report. I always found it so cute to see the little card with their tiny baby footprints on it. With some, there was no card with footprints at the end of the file.

Some of the files were very large, a great many pages. I soon learned that those were the bad files. The baby, with a bad file, was sickly or premature.

The files covered a period of about ten years. I started to see a pattern. There were birth records and then other files, such as when the children came in to the ER for various problems: accidents, sickness and so on.


This was where another pattern showed itself. Repeatedly, I saw these small children come in to the ER for cuts, scrapes and all manner of childhood problems. I couldn’t help but think about my daughter:  how, when she had the exact same problems, we took her to her pediatrician. Initially, I wondered why these families didn’t do what we did. Then I understood, they had no insurance, the ER was their “family physician.”


Seeing these families have to go to the ER year in, year out, I soon saw the value of some simple, basic medical insurance. I thought about the government’s attempt at creating just such a system and its failure, due to the efforts of the health insurance industry! If these people could just get a minimal health plan, and be able to go to a doctor instead of the ER, think of the savings in time, money and energy for our hospitals.


Yet, will that happen? I doubt it, not with lobbyists and politicians actively working against such efforts – and offering no alternative plan.


If I, an out of work engineer, could figure out the need for basic health care from just pushing papers at a basic job, why is it so tough for others to see this? I guess it goes back to that old saying about self-interest. When it is in someone’s interest, financially, not to accept something, as sick child, for example, he or she doesn’t do it.


Do we have the strength to overcome this? I don’t know, someone else has to answer that question.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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