Archive | 4:04 pm

Flat Tires.

27 Mar

“Wait, so what does it do?”

My friend Pat and I sit in a booth in the back corner of a local restaurant and bar. The light is being caught by waves of smoke that float aimlessly through the air. we sit across from each other, the middle curve of the c-shaped booth empty.

“It will eventually insure 32 million uninsured Americans,” Pat says. “32 million Americans who previously couldn’t afford medical coverage. Americans like me.” He smiles a toothy grin.

“Americans like me, too. They like me a lot.”

Pat, showing the slightest bit of frustration, begins to speak “I–” then stops. He shakes his head, pulls some of the hair from his face and continues. “It’s the biggest piece of legislation in decades.”

“That’s fantastic,” I say. “How big is it?”

“What do you mean?”

I bring up my hands, holding them roughly eight inches apart. Silence. I move them twelve inches, and then 20 or so inches apart. “Really?” I ask, eyebrows raised. I move my hands as far apart as they will go, my arms fully extended.

Just then, an older gentleman in a blue suede sports coat and jeans steps up to our table. “You guys talkin’ about the health care bill?” His gaze bounce from me then to Pat. I don’t want to talk to this man. I feel like in most cases, strangers who volunteer themselves for political conversations are only doing so because they want to yell at someone.

“Yea,” Pat said. I take a sip of my beer.

“What do you think?” the guy asks. He now stands comfortably, arms crossed. Ah, damn it. We’re about to have a conversation.

“I love it,” says Pat.

“It’s this big,” I say, holding my hands out wide. The man gives me no response. He turns to Pat.

“What do you like about it?”

“It’s cheap medical care. What’s not to like?”

Cheap? Who ever said it was going to be cheap?” the old man asks.

“Oh,” I say. “He just did.” I point to Pat. I smile broadly, proud to be contribute to an academic conversation.

“I suppose he did,” the man said. “But who else said that, I mean. What politician said it was going to be cheap for everybody? You know they’re going to hike up taxes.”

Pat begins to offer a retort, but I almost immediately zone out. I begin to imagine a tiny mountain climber hiking up a mountain made of taxes. Tax hiking.

A wild, government-deducted journey

I snap out of my stupor when I hear Pat’s raised voice.

“You talk about these costs like they’re going to be used to buy guns for terrorists! We’re talking about people–their lives! If we can, as a country, as fellow humans, give them life, give them an escape from pain, why not? You’re acting like the government is going to spend our tax dollars on gold-plated toilet seats.”

“Every man should take care of himself,” the man said. “Personal responsibility.”

The conversation winds down. Both sides eventually realize the futility in trying to change the mind of the other and we part ways. On the drive home, Pat and I see a car stranded on the side of the road. The front driver-side tire is blown to shreds. Pat slows down and I roll my window down. The owner of the car is crouched by the blown tire. He stands as we approach.

“You think you could lend me a hand?” he asks. It’s the man from the bar.

We get out and help him put on his spare. We shake hands with the man and walk back to Pat’s car.

“Thanks for the help,” the man said. “I’d be stuck here without you.”

“Yea, okay,” I say. I hold my hand out for some money. Pat shakes his head and lowers my hand.

“Good thing we didn’t buy into the mantra that ‘every man should take care of himself,’ right?” Pat asks. The man looks down for a second, obviously taken aback by being confronted so directly with his ideology’s most looming flaw.

“I guess you’re right about that one,” he says.

I hold my hand out for some money again. Pat once again lowers my hand. “No,” he says to me. “Good bye, sir.”

We drive away. I begin to quietly bitch about how much money the man owes us.

The End.

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