I had a very young lady in my office last week. She was crying and upset because her car hadn’t started, and she was a few minutes late to her appointment. She was shaking so badly that I didn’t think she would be able to sign the papers. All she could talk about was being a few minutes late and that her car had trouble starting and THEN she had to call to find the office. She was so embarrassed.
I tried to console her and make her feel better while sitting in an office with huge fans blowing and thick electrical cords hanging down from the ceiling. Over the weekend our office had flooded because the office above us had a leak or a pipe break or something that caused it to rain all over our reception area and front desk.
We had signs pointing all patients to a side door, with a quick route through the kitchen area, and on into my “new” office. It wasn’t ideal because the credit card machine and the scanner/printer were still hooked up in the front area. For me to print, scan, or take money I had to go through a zippered plastic protector thing, perform my tasks, and then back through the zipper to my desk.
Men were coming in and out and I was listening to the kitchen door to see if a client was perhaps traipsing through the kitchen looking for us. I heard the young girl come in and steered her to my office space. I handed her a clipboard and asked her to fill out a few forms. I took her ID and insurance card and ran copies. She said, “Do you need my payment?”
I said “yes” and told her how much it would be.
She flopped into the chair and bawled and said, “I may have to cancel my appointment. I have to call my dad.”
I agreed and worked on other things while she called her dad. She was visibly upset and did not understand the basics of how insurance worked. She had never heard of a deductible and was not sure her dad had either. I assured her that her dad knew what a deductible was. I suggested that perhaps her dad had always taken care of any medical bill that was not fully covered by insurance. She got really upset at this and said, “I pay my own bills, he does not pay for anything.”
I tried to reassure her and told her that I would file the insurance and see what they would pay but I thought with it being a new year she would eventually have to pay the full amount because not a penny had been used of the deductible for this new year. She told me that I didn’t understand and that she already paid for things a little bit at a time.
Maybe I shouldn’t have, but I said, “I do understand. It is OK to have to pay for things little bits at a time.” She blew into her tissue and I added, “Life is hard, and you are very young. It will get easier.” I don’t think she appreciated my free advice because as she was called to the back she threw out under her breath, “What an interesting way to meet someone.”
We WERE, after all, sitting in a flooded office making do the best way we could that morning.
I have this same story every week, several times a week. I feel for these young ones, but I also can’t help but wonder how does one get through life without expecting some hard knocks along the way? Are parents not teaching their young ones about the practicalities of life? When I got married at a very young age and our parents said that we would have to make it on our own, they were not kidding. And it was difficult much of the time.
Life is hard, and life is complex, and I am all for helping my kids, or other kids, along but I am also a big believer in sucking it up and moving forward.
Here is some good, parental advice, in case you need it.
- You will have to work more than 15-20 hours per week to make it.
- Everything is taxed. Car, property, food, clothes…
- Insurance is mandatory, and it costs. School, car, kids, property, office space, homes…
- The newest phone/laptop/notebook are NOT necessary to survive
- Go to work everyday even if you think you have a headache. Make the effort.
- Learn your own business. What is the deductible on all your insurance policies? What does that mean? What does it mean to be overdrawn at the bank? Yes, cars must be inspected yearly to get a registration tag. Find out how to do that.
- Keep records.
- Don’t use credit cards except for emergencies.
- Notice that there are many others in this old world. See what you can do to help them.
- Get back up and do it again each day.