life

Negative Nellie

I had an appointment to see a specialist on Tuesday.  It was originally scheduled for September 3rd, but his office called Monday afternoon and said they had a cancellation and would I like to come tomorrow instead?

So I drove across town Tuesday morning and limped through a large medical building to get the records they wanted me to bring.  I thought they’d be grateful that I took their cancellation and made the effort.

But when I checked in Tuesday afternoon, I was greeted by Negative Nellie.  Her name was actually Amanda, but she was definitely a Nellie.  She was young and pretty and ugly.  And her professional personality was off to a snarly start.

I handed her my license and my insurance card.  She looked at it for a minute and then screwed up her face.

“We don’t take this insurance,”  she firmly asserted in a sort of accusing, punishing voice.

“Look at the back of the card,” I suggested,  “I’m pretty sure you do.”

She flipped it over and then handed it to the woman next to her.  That woman looked it up in a binder and said, “Yes, as long as [insurance name 1] and [insurance name 2] are both on the card, we take it.”

[Insurance name 1] is on the front of the card and [insurance name 2] is on the back of the card, so Nellie said, “It doesn’t say [insurance name 2] on the front.”

The nice lady next to her said, “I don’t think it matters as long as both names are on the card.”

I could see in Nellie’s set face that she wasn’t about to concede.

So I spoke up.  I shouldn’t have, but I did.  “I’ve been through this confusion before,” I said with a smile, trying to blame the confusing card and not her, “and I can assure you that the second name does not have to be on the front.  If it makes you feel better, I gave my insurance information over the phone when I initially made the appointment and it was checked then.”

Uh oh.  Now she was determined to prove me wrong.

The nice lady suggested she ask the insurance specialist in the back if she needed additional confirmation.

So off she huffed.

Yep, they take it.

And Nellie was not happy.  She was rude a few minutes later when she handed back my license and card.  She was rude when I handed in my questionnaire.  And she was rude when I said goodbye.

She looked about 21.  Unless she switches professions (I vote for that), her work life is going to be miserable – for her and for countless patients.  How much nicer and more gratifying her days would be if instead she were to cheerfully say things like, “I haven’t seen this type of insurance before (It’s a pretty common one), let me double check with our insurance expert for you.”

For you, not against you, is the operative attitude.

I thought of Nellie this morning when I read John 5.

A man who had been an invalid for 38 years was lying next to a healing pool.

Jesus approached him and asked, “Do you want to get well?”

(Apparently not everyone does.  In fact, I’ve known people like that, you probably have, too.  People who counter every helpful suggestion with an excuse or reason why what you are suggesting is impossible;  people who seem to enjoy wallowing in misery.)

The man did want to get well, but no one would help him into the water when the pool was stirred, and, since he was so slow others would push ahead of him.

Jesus bypassed the pool altogether and said,  “Pick up your mat and walk.”

So he did.

And it was the Sabbath.

So his fellow Jews, rather than being THRILLED that this cripple of 38 years could suddenly walk, jumped right in and said the equivalent of “Awwww, you’re in trouble.”

No rejoicing over the sudden wellness of a fellow human being.  Just, “It’s the Sabbath, the law forbids you to carry your mat.”

What makes punishing people focus in on the infraction and completely ignore the miracle?

‘We don’t take your insurance.”

What makes Negative Nellies so punishing?  What makes them see everyone who comes their way as an adversary to be squashed?  A cheater to be caught? And WHY ON EARTH would they enter a  healing, helping profession?

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