On the downtown 1 train I finally got a seat. Took out Keret and began to read. Looking up, the face of the woman across from me caught my eye. She was around my age, on the edge of old. The structure of her handsome face, and the way the light modeled her high cheekbones, was striking. She saw me appreciate this and smiled, becoming instantly beautiful. I smiled back. It was all perfectly simple.
There was no come on, or longing, or anything else. She smiled because I had appreciated her old face for its once and still beauty. I smiled because she smiled when I appreciated her face and her sincere and grateful smile had lit up her face. We shared a brief, lovely moment. I dipped back into Keret.
A few stops later I discovered that our eyes no longer met. Which made sense; we don’t really know what to do sometimes after a beautifully simple moment.
The nephrologist I saw when I got off the 1 train had no receptionist. His dim office was in the back of a twisting warren of offices. The card I took from his desk was for a psychiatrist whose office it was when the nephrologist was not sitting behind the desk. I recognized the set-up from my fly-by-night law practice days.
The doctor was a thoughtful man, about my age, philosophical. From what I could tell he was a thorough, old-school doctor. He did not have particularly good news for me after the examination, but indicated that we would manage it together going forward.
First things first, though. He looked at my insurance card and warned me that Blue Cross Blue Shield may sound like good coverage, but was “highly suspect”. They had been sold to Empire, then to Anthem, yes, he knew this outfit, they had ripped him off many times. Anthem sold the company to another corporation, the usual American corporate shell-game. He showed me a bill for $157,000 in ongoing dialysis for a patient on the same Blue Cross plan I’d been assigned, and the zero payment he’d received over the years.
He asked me to please call them and instruct them to pay him, for all the good it might do. Thankfully, he didn’t need the payment, all of his children were doctors, his wife was a doctor. We agreed that he deserved to be paid, even if only the minute fraction of his fee negotiated by Obamacare.
He told me to switch to either of two little known health insurance companies, they provided far better insurance than this prestigious-sounding but actually crap insurance. He was not really eager to get into the whole discussion of our corporate culture, or the foibles of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but he did smile finally when I concluded:
If the foxes are left in charge of the hen-house, hens will be eaten.
“I am, in spite of everything, still searching for the truth,” I admitted.
“I did that to you,” said my father’s skeleton, with deep regret.