I had another fascinating conversation with a taxi driver this morning. Almost immediately he announced that he was Palestinian. This isn’t surprising, as most taxi drivers are.
Then he told me he’d been recently kicked out of Israel/Palestine, and would have to stay away for 6 years. I didn’t ask why. I mean, what do you say to that kind of statement? …smile and nod…
Then he told me that his daughter was in the hospital. This I do know how to respond to! Allah yasa3adha! (God help her!)
Then the real drama began. When his daughter was well enough to go home, the hospital announced that he owed them 1,000 dinar for her care and stay at the hospital. He was a taxi drive, so of course he didn’t have JD1,000, but he offered all he had, and promised to return with the rest within a week to 10 days. Not good enough, said the hospital; they refused to release his daughter until his bill was paid, while adding to his bill for every day she stayed in the hospital. Can you believe it? Holding his own daughter as collateral? And charging him for it. At a hospital! It took him another 2 days to beg and borrow the money from friends and family, at who knows what additional cost to him.
Now, this is the good part: Here’s a Palestinian who’s been kicked out of his home by the Israeli government, forced to move his whole family to Jordan and build a new life for himself. And yet he said to me, “As much as I suffer at the hands of the Israeli government, the people of Israel are so much nicer than the Jordanians. In Israel, I wouldn’t have paid a cent for that hospital stay; the Israeli government would have paid for the whole ordeal automatically. I wish I were back in Israel. I love Israel!”
And as I was telling this story, I was thinking how like America this is. In fact, I mentioned that to him: that Americans are talking a lot back home about how many people go bankrupt from healthcare costs. He knew exactly what I was talking about, too.
On a similar note, there’s been much scrutiny of the details of our company healthcare policy in the office this week, and British Melanie is appalled at the things that are not covered. Every time she brings it up, I think, It looks like a pretty good policy to me. Just like your average American healthcare policy….