This world sucks

I'm lucky in a skewed way. When I was young in the 70's they were still giving kids those ultra-heavy fluoride treatments. It turned my teeth slightly yellow, but effectively made them stronger than rocks. I sometimes have years in-between when  go to the dentist, and I'm convinced that all of the neglect I unleashed on my chompers will have ruined them. But nope. Almost never any problems.

Same thing this time, but unfortunately I wasn't able to see a normal dentist. Sure, when I got there the guy said: “no real problems”, but it's just not going to be that simple. It never is. You see, a few years ago I lost my health insurance due to company contract problems. So now I have to rely on public health care.

The torture starts when you want to go see the dentist. I went to their office last October and asked for an appointment, as once again it was years since my last one. I was told they could see me in August. That's right. August. Ten freakin' months to wait for an appointment. Thank the gods below I wasn't one of those poor bastards who does have a cavity. It would have eaten my jaw and half my face away in that time.

But I wait for almost a year and then I get my visit and the doctor says I'm fine. No real problems. So all they are going to do is clean my teeth. Sounds typical. Wrong. He wants me back in a month to do it. That's right. A second visit and another month's wait for the cleaning. But I can cope. I've had worse things happen to me.

And a month later I'm back in the chair and the dentist hauls out the Water-Pick-From-Hell. You know the one. It shoots freezing cold water at your gums and teeth with such velocity it's like they are being whacked with a frozen scalpel. Tiny droplets of water and blood are going everywhere and the dentist just keeps saying “Wider. Wider.

Finally he's done, but something must be wrong. He only did the bottom row of teeth. Did he forget the top ones? Is this guy an idiot?

Chancing the fact that he's a dangerous and deranged dentist, I ask: “All done already?”

That's when he tells me that he only ever intended to do the bottom teeth today. Then he''ll have me back in a month to do the top teeth. Then another month and he'll do the polishing. I'm stunned. That's like going someplace and ordering dinner, having the waiter come with your soup, then come back with the appetizer a month later. I realize it will take me four visits and over a year's wait to get through this ordeal. And gods forbid I miss an appointment. It could be another six months before they can set me up for another.

So the day of my final visit came today. The visit that would complete my “check up”. Blessedly, although the rain spirits threatened to unleash their vengeance upon me while I rode my bike up to the health center, they did not. But when  entered it was obvious it wasn't going to be easy. You see, there's something else I hate about public health...

All the fuckin' druggies and illegals.

Listen, I know I'm on a soap-box here, but I'm someone who's worked his ass off his whole life and paid his taxes and his dues. All I want is to be able to bridge a gap where a corporation dropped the ball and denied me the right to insurance. I'm not looking to take advantage of the system. Yet on any given visit that I go there I have, seated on my left, a strung out prostitute who hasn't contributed to social security since she worked half a year at a Burger King before dropping out of high school. And on my right is a Nigerian man who is carrying a fake green-card, speaks no language known to the human race, and who the social workers are trying to convince that it's not his God-given right to beat any children that displease him.

Today, on the last day of my visit, I know it's going to be a doozy. There is an immense woman wearing a glittery ethnic head-dress of some kind. She doesn't speak any English, and the people at the front desk are trying to explain to her that just because she made a (singular) dental appointment does not mean that she and all of her five screaming children (who were all eating candy, by the way) can be seen by the dentist in a single setting. The woman is flipping out at the clerk. The clerk is flipping out at the dentist (“I tell you Dr. Z, I don't have to take this! There is no way this woman is going to push me to the point where they gotta take me outa here on a stretcher. I'll walk right outta here!”) And meanwhile the five children are trying to find new ways of getting underfoot and hurting themselves on the furniture.

Calmly I sit there. What else can I do? I'm not a heroin addict. I'm not a hooker who's regularly beaten by their pimp. I'm not a Nigerian. This isn't my world, and I'm powerless in it. I'm just the white guy that's praying that the clerk doesn't walk off the job, because that means I will have to reschedule the appointment.

They call my name, and suddenly I realize I am oddly content that I will be having to spit pink gritty stuff for the rest of the day. This world sucks.

Uploaded 11/03/2008
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