Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Sensitive

I’m sure that it wasn’t huge news in most parts of the country, but Detroit was abuzz today with the news that the leaders of General Motors, Ford and DaimlerChrysler were meeting with President Bush.

Around here, any Big Three news is huge. Everyone here knows a handful of people who work in the industry. Entire extended families, series of generations, are loyal employees of Ford. Some are eternally loyal with GM. For others, it's Chrysler. As you may imagine, Detroit lives and dies with the automobile industry.

When a wrap-up of the meeting between President Bush and the Big Three popped up on CNN this afternoon, a coworker and I stopped at the television to see the report.

The coworker I stood with, Lisa, is the only coworker I really like now that Kevin’s gone She’s extremely sharp and witty and far too much fun. I trust her and I respect her.

Lisa is very conservative. Conservative to the point that she’ll snap at a harmless comment about how the president "cracks me up." I, of course, am fairly liberal; Lisa and I hadn’t worked together long before I realized that I should not even mention current events, let alone politics, at work. I liked Lisa too much. I didn’t want to go there.

And I’ve never gone there. I sit at my desk and watch Lisa’s reactions while masking my own behind a façade of disinterest. I doubt that she had any idea of my political leaning.

Until today.

Much of the report that we were watching, like much of the meeting with the president, was focused on healthcare.

Lisa mentioned, casually, how ridiculous it was for the Big Three to think that they would get any help from Washington. Especially for healthcare. Why do they think that the government would want to help them?

Uhhh. Because the government has a vested interest in keeping the Big Three in business?

Well, yes, Lisa conceded. But that’s just one step closer to socialized medicine.

I shrugged my shoulders. And blinked back a few tears.

"I don’t know," I said. "But I know that, as a child, I watched a father stand at a pharmacy, trying to decide which of two prescriptions he should get filled for his baby because he couldn’t afford to fill them both. No parent should be forced to make that decision. And that broke my heart. And just thinking of that breaks my heart now. It’s wrong."

She said something about agreeing that was wrong and terrible, but...I didn’t stay to listen.

I couldn’t.

And it makes no sense. I’ve never been without excellent health care. I’ve never been anything but privileged. Because of my pampered history, it feels like this issue picked me. I swear that I never consciously picked it.

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