I was sitting in the waiting room at the Doctor’s office, reading on my cell phone. The room was packed as there was a school sports physicals clinic going on in one wing of the office. The woman next to me coughed several times; one of those deep, throaty smokers’ coughs and then leaned over to listen to the conversation going on the other side of her.
Two mature women had driven quite a distance to come to this clinic for their healthcare and they were hoping that it was going to be a good move for them. They both read the sign that said: IF YOU HAVE BEEN WAITING MORE THAN 15 MINUTES PAST YOUR APPOINTMENT TIME COME AND TALK TO THE RECEPTIONIST. Both women thought that they should be seen at the appointed time and not have to double check in. They both were quite agitated and concerned about being in such a clinic. They were treating this morning as some kind of test and were already upset. The woman next to me was becoming agitated and began talking to me.
Her clinic at home was not so neat and tidy, as a matter of fact it was awful but she never had to wait for more than 30 minutes. There were lots of ethnic backgrounds represented in the waiting room and this seemed to bother this woman and make her worried. One Doctor and the nurse with a Doctorate both came into the waiting room and spoke Spanish to several of the patients. Vietnamese was spoken by the Lab Technician and the Tribal Interpreter was there for the sports clinic families. The woman next to me began telling me how all these immigrants were coming to town, having babies to be citizens, and then never working but getting on welfare. Where was all this “Obamacare” going – it was going to all the illegal people on welfare and their citizen born children, from her taxes. She grabbed on to my arm and suggested that the clinic might not respect her as a patient. My name was called and I went back to my appointment.
When I came back out, the woman left with me and began talking again and I waited with her by her car and I believe I settled her agitation and asked if the care at her home clinic had been adequate for her? She said yes and she was going back there to be treated better even though she did not feel well or want to see an Arab doctor again. I shared with her that I had waited 2 hours my last visit because a new baby was entering the world and my doctor was the attending; a nurse was not available. I reminded her that the Affordable Health Care Act did not go into effect for most adults until 2014. She was not going to pay for any of” those” people’s health care and I said I didn’t mind paying for them and suggested she take that worry off her list. She calmed and drove off.
I proceeded to the library to get a book on hold. The library was not open until 11am and at 10:30 quite a line had formed, including an older woman who went on and on about immigrants who did not work and had babies who became citizens and Obama was giving away all our tax money to immigrants and she thought if he won the election she would die. She was angry that she paid taxes and the library was not open earlier. There would be nothing left of her and her hard work and efforts. She would kill herself if Obama was elected. She was on fire – seething with anger.
I sat down on the bench near the door and patted the seat for her to join me. I shared with her that I too was worried about the election but that in my 60+ years I had a number of times been worried about an election and what it would mean for me, and I survived and moved forward and chose my worries with a different view. What would her worry accomplish? What would her death accomplish?
I asked her if she was on Medicare and Social Security. Her answer was yes. I told her I was a child of immigrants born into US citizenship that I was born with cancer so was a pre-existing condition all of my years. The woman showed empathy for my situation and then said, “but you are white and not on welfare!” and went on with her business as fast as she could get away.
A young librarian asked me why I was wasting my time on this woman. I thought she was unsafe to drive she was so angry. He told me to go watch the new Republican ad that had just come out against Obama. I came right home and looked it up. Yep! There were all the “lines” these two women were spewing out. I fact checked 11 items in the ad and the first 7 were debunked false statements. It was also the most overtly racist ad I had seen in a long time and it was powerfully suggesting that not only were “those” people ruining the USA but that our President was a negative racist.
Who is taking responsibility for putting folks into such a fevered pitch? Where has our humanity, respect and kindness gone? Do you ever just feel disgusted and as though there is nothing you can do?
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