Chapter Nineteen: Sam

Steve was accompanying Yesenia on a prenatal visit. They were walking from Yesenia’s home to the clinic when they came up behind a man who was struggling to move his wheelchair.

“Would you like a push, sir?” Steve offered.

“I would love one. Thank you.” he replied.

“You’re such a gentleman.” Yesenia said as Steve started pushing.

Steve said, “Actually, I’ve been learning from Jennifer. You know how she’s always talking about libertarian solutions, people doing private charity instead of demanding government programs. Bureaucrats could spend a hundred thousand dollars on a fancy bus that can handle this wheelchair, or I can push it for nothing. I’m lucky I’m able to walk.”

“I was able to walk until January.” the man said.

“What happened?” Yesenia asked.

The man replied, “I was in a crosswalk, with the ‘WALK’ signal, when a Mass.-hole came up from behind me, turned right on red without even stopping, and ran me over. He got out and started yelling at me for walking out in front of him.”

“What’s a Mass.-hole?” Yesenia asked.

“He was from Massachusetts.” the man replied. “Before Operation U.S.A. Freedom, I would have been evicted from my apartment for non-payment while the case was pending. It might have taken years. Now, all the drug cases are gone, and the courts handle cases much faster. I got my insurance money, but the driver didn’t have enough insurance to cover the damages. He had the amount required by Massachusetts law, but that wasn’t anywhere near enough. I worked in construction, so naturally I can’t keep my job.”

Steve asked, “Where are you going?”

The man replied, “To the clinic up the street.”

Yesenia said, “That’s where we’re going.”

Steve asked, “Did you have uninsured motorist coverage yourself?”

The man replied, “No. They only sell that with liability insurance policies, and I don’t own a car. Even if I did, it would be a rip-off. I mean, that idiot from Massachusetts has no right to make me lose thousands of dollars by carelessly running me over, but he also has no right to make thousands of people lose a few dollars having to buy uninsured motorist coverage. Either way, innocent people are being ripped off. He’s going to jail, and I’m glad.”

Yesenia said to Steve, “Steve, you know how your sister is always talking about voluntary, free market solutions? Well, I think I see an opportunity here. Let’s talk to Jennifer and my father about getting this guy a job working for Remesa Banking Company.”

The man asked “What’s that?”

Yesenia replied, “It’s a new banking company that handles remittances. Remesa is the Spanish word for remittance. They get money orders in the mail, and these can be processed by a person who is wheelchair-bound, working at a desk, using a computer.”

Steve said, “I like that idea.”

The man said, “I’d be glad to consider that. My name is Sam, by the way.”

Steve wrote down Sam’s name and telephone number, giving Sam the telephone number of Remesa Banking Company. He pushed Sam’s wheelchair to the elevator. “This is as far as we go.” he said.

In the hallway, workers on ladders were replacing fluorescent tubes in the ceiling fixtures. Steve asked, “Are you one workers’ compensation?”

“No. Why?” one replied.

Steve explained, “Because they put you on light duty.” Then he accompanied Yesenia into the clinic.

“My aunt Miguelina is now a nurse-midwife here.” Yesenia said.

“I thought she was a waitress.” Steve said.

Yesenia explained, “She was a waitress, after she married my uncle and moved here, but in the Dominican Republic, she was a nurse-midwife. She is fully qualified, but she just doesn’t know enough English to pass the test in the United States. A lot of Spanish-speaking health-care professionals were unable to work in the United States for that reason, and that caused big problems for Spanish-speaking patients, who had trouble finding specialists who could speak Spanish. In many cases, they had to go to a doctor who spoke only English, and in some cases, misunderstandings created serious problems. I mean, people can die if they can’t communicate with the doctor, while a Spanish-speaking doctor was forbidden to help them. That’s the government for you. The clinic tested my aunt, with the help of a medical interpreter, and she helps Spanish-speaking patients, now that a license is no longer required.”

Steve observed, “Operation U.S.A. Freedom is saving a lot of lives in a lot of ways, and that’s just one of them. Too bad the New Hampshire Legislature demanded that the Freedom Fighters exterminate so many cops first. The Freedom Fighters were willing to accept the Legislature’s surrender much sooner.”

Yesenia mentioned, “Repealing the licensing laws was not a big demand of the Freedom Fighters or the committees of for liberty. It was a result of the Freedom Fighters putting pressure on the voters to elect candidates willing to comply with the demands, and those candidates tend to be people who support liberty generally. So, once in office, they took it upon themselves to repeal lots of unjust laws.”

Yesenia went to the reception window and gave her name. The receptionist said, “Have a seat.”

Steve went up to the window and said, “Did you hear about the rhinoceros who decided to go to medical school, and got arrested for trespassing?”

“No, I didn’t.” the receptionist said.

Then Steve explained, “He was on a hippocampus.”

The receptionist groaned at the pun. Then she said, “You know, one of the benefits of Operation U.S.A. Freedom is, if you’re 18 or older, you can sign an organ donor card, and you can override the objections of your family, if you get it notarized.”

Steve replied, “That’s a good thing. I heard the law required the family’s permission before. This will save lives and alleviate the shortage of organs.”

Then the receptionist said, “After a liver retrieval, a hospital dealt with a furious family by showing them the notarized organ donor card, and you know what they said?”

Steve took the bait. “What?”

The receptionist said, “Signed, sealed, and de-livered.”

Yesenia’s name was called, and Steve accompanied her into the room. She enjoyed the startled look on his face when he heard his child’s heartbeat.

“That’s my kid in there!” Steve said.

The nurse-midwife wrote down the name of some vitamin pills Yesenia should take, and gave Yesenia the note.

After the visit, Steve and Yesenia went to a nearby pharmacy. They waited behind a woman at the window, who was buying dozens of bottles of various remedies.

The pharmacist asked, “Is this for export, or for somebody who cannot read English?”

The woman replied, “Yes, it is for export.”

The pharmacist enquired, “What country?”

“Cape Verde. In my country, a lot of medicine arrives in checked luggage.” she said.

The pharmacist punched some data into the computer, and then said, “I don’t have a translation in Criulo. It says here to offer you a translation in Portuguese.”

The woman explained. “That would be fine. In my country, everybody speaks Criulo, but we read and write everything in Portuguese. So please, give me the instructions in Portuguese. I can make photocopies, one for each bottle.” She accepted the medicine and the instructions, paid for the merchandise, and left the store.

Steve wondered, “Is this something new, providing medicine instructions in other languages?”

The pharmacist replied, “Yes, it is. Before Operation U.S.A. Freedom, it was illegal for drug companies to provide translations of the instructions. It would be inconsistent with their legally required admonition to read and follow label instructions. That caused problems, of course. We had a woman from Haiti whose ten-year-old child wound up in the hospital because he didn’t get better taking the cold remedy she bought. The word, infants on the label looked like the French word, enfants, which means, you know, older children, so he didn’t get enough medicine. Now, the drug companies are also allowed to use the metric system, so there’s no wondering whether ‘T-S-P’ means teaspoon or tablespoon. As for the morons who pretend they cannot understand the metric system, they have to resort to using droppers graduated in milliliters, and dispensing the number of milliliters the instructions say to dispense. Terribly complicated for them, I must say. This was a victory for us intelligent people.”

Yesenia said, “I wonder how many people died from those government-imposed misunderstandings.”

The pharmacist replied, “Before Operation U.S.A. Freedom, these vitamin pills you’re buying would only be available by prescription. Now, all the prescription laws are repealed.”

Yesenia gasped, “A prescription for vitamin pills?”

The pharmacist replied, “Yes, it is true. I even remember when, in the 1990’s, any child who could reach the coin slot on a vending machine could buy cigarettes, but it was illegal to sell nicotine chewing gum without a prescription.”

Steve asked, “Are there people who shouldn’t use it?”

The pharmacist explained, “Yes. Non-smokers.”

Yesenia laughed, “Gee, I never would have guessed nicotine chewing gum was contraindicated in non-smokers. Good thing the government was there to protect them!”

Copyright © 2004 Tom Alciere