There are days that seem to conspire to make you remember how lucky you are. Today I got a letter from my health insurance. I’ve got Cobra and until this month the government had been subsidizing my payments. Today I found out that the subsidy has ended and my bill’s gone from $160 to $445. I am trying to swing it as a freelance landscape architect/artist/writer and don’t have a steady income.
When I got off the phone with the company I had my standard stressed out neck ache. I spent the next few hours googling alternatives with no luck. Health insurance is just expensive.
I took a break from the computer to work on some Christmas projects and had just started silk screening when the door bell rang. There was a man on the porch asking for work. he had no front teeth and a scruffy look but he was willing to do anything- clean the gutters, rake leaves- to get a few bucks. It is cold in Nashville tonight, near freezing. He had on a light jacket. I’ve never had someone show up on my porch asking for work and my landlord pays someone to do all that work. As I was telling him this my heart was breaking but I was in slightly panicked and on auto pilot. No we don’t need help, no I’m sure about that. He gave me a plaintive look as he asked one last time “Are you sure?? I am just trying to do this the honest way.” Again I said no and turned to go back into my warm house where my fancy laptop was playing country music and my silk screen project awaited me.
Immediately I was sorry I hadn’t come up with some small job for him. Just a little raking so that I could pay him $5 and we could both have felt like we’d done something to help. Instead I roamed around the house staring at all our stuff and feeling horrible. We see poverty every day in the city. Homeless people selling papers, bums on the street with a cup of change but it is profoundly different when someone is standing on your porch asking for help. I am sorry that I didn’t think faster.