Friday, November 26, 2010

Day 330-Black Friday & health insurance

Dear Mr. President,

I've worked in retail for the last four years. Most of the time I hated it, but today is the day that usually made me love it. Especially in later years, as a manager, I'd rework my hours for the week and end up spending something ridiculous like 16 or 18 hours at work, setting up before the store opened, drinking way too much coffee, and generally racing around as though lives were at stake. I'm probably just a bit of an adrenaline junkie, but after Black Friday, the store got busier, the lines got longer, and everything just got more exciting as the urgency to build displays, refill displays, organize gift wrapping services, unpack merchandise for the floor and help customers once the doors opened increased. Working retail during the holidays was stressful and did not go well with having a "normal" holiday season, but it was the most fun I've ever had at any job. Today, while I still work in retail, I no longer have the same responsibility toward customers or toward merchandising. It was a little disappointing to roll in at 2 pm for a 6-hour shift catching shoplifters, especially knowing that my sister would be working 18 hours at the clothing store she manages. It's nice not to have lines of frantic bargain hunters surging through the doors at 6 am, but it lacks a certain glamor. (However, the sheer craziness of the shoplifter we caught today pretty much made up for any lack of excitement.)

That being said, in this economy, it was kind of nice to see all of the hilarious coverage of long lines, crazy crowds, and more than a few frantic shoppers who look like they train to find deals all year long. Yes, it still makes me a little sad, and yes, it still makes me wonder if our society has deep issues with priorities and materialism, but I like my job, I like that my friends have jobs, and I hope that many more jobs can be created this Holiday season.

I noticed today that you had to get stitches as a result of a basketball accident. My first reaction was something along the lines of "OH NO, POOR PRESIDENT OBAMA! I SHOULD ASK IF HE"S OK!" (which probably speaks to the near-complete delusion that we're somehow friends which I have developed as a result of all of this letter-writing.) And then I got to thinking about my hand. Yesterday, while cleaning up my thanksgiving dishes, I cut open my hand on a knife hidden in the soapy water. My near-hysterical reaction notwithstanding it really isn't that bad, I'm fine and I didn't bleed to death (or even come all that close) but it still hasn't closed up. Today I showed it to a friend who is also a doctor, and she noted that I should have gone in for stitches. To be perfectly fair, I'm terrified of doctors, hospitals, and generally anything related to blood, bleeding, or medical attention. I probably wouldn't have gone in even if I did have insurance. The fact that I'm uninsured, however, was a significant factor in my decision just to take care of it myself. I'm really glad that you are OK and that you have access to the best healthcare we can offer in this country. But, just for a moment, I couldn't help but step outside myself and realize that if it hadn't been me but my roommates or my sisters or my friends who needed stitches and chose not to get them because they couldn't afford it, I'd be pretty upset knowing that money stood between them and basic care. We've both demonstrated rather clearly that these kind of accidents can happen to any one at any time and that having the option of medical attention makes a big difference (or at least, I'd imagine our respective scars will look fairly different in a few months.)

Anyway, I am glad that you are OK and that your black friday was spent doing something leisurely (at least before elbows were thrown.)

Respectfully yours,


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