Tuesday, March 24, 2009


She walks into the coffee shop at 8am every morning. And at 8:05 she reaches the counter where the barista knows her order & calls it out without question: one skinny decaf white chocolate mocha, lite syrup, no foam, no whip, grande. Her manicured nails reach into the designer bag plopped on the counter. Diamond-decorated hand slides black bar of plastic through numbered machine, total $4.68.

The staunch of grease permeates his nostrils…but he breathes it in: familiar. He saunters across the tile floor, shoulder missing the shelf of gum aside the register as old habit. Calloused hands, stained with grease push $8.72 in wadded cash & loose change across the blue laminate. He pockets his two packs of Camels in the faded square in high left chest pocket and tips his baseball cap goodbye. He’ll be back again tomorrow for another double hitter.

We hear the sputtering exhaust pipe from inside the office. His boots, worn with holes, step out of the old pick-up truck & take him inside.

She yaps on her cell phone in the waiting room, moving to the other side of the room to avoid the stench of cigarettes & grease the sun-worn man just brought.

But doctor, I can’t pay for those medicines,” he shakes his head in disbelief: yet another doctor’s appointment, yet another bill…yet another week of 80 hours & overtime trying to avoid delinquency.

You want me to pay what to sit inside a tube to look at my brain?” she exclaimed from the exam table, obviously exasperated by the suggestion of an MRI. “Yeah sure…whatever…do they take credit cards?”

She signs out, driving away in shiny new car.

He leaves the office, worried about another expense. We hear rusty ‘clank’ as he puts the truck in gear.

I lean against the white wall while we talk.

My own priorities flood my mind. The last $4.68 I spent at Starbucks. Chapstick in my pocket, organic with pomegranate oil for $3.99. Black Merrell shoes, $60. Bottled water, $1 at the gas station last week. New song on iTunes, $0.99 at 11pm last night.


She didn’t seem to have any--& poured the loans she took from the credit card company into her external appearance, impressing others.

He worked hard…worried about medical bills…& spent $300 this month on cigarettes.

How are my priorities, physically, materially, medically, healthfully, & emotionally speaking about my life? How is my life influenced by my spiritual priorities?

It is no secret that the American healthcare system has gaping flaws. And today I was reminded that as humans, we are flawed as well. Instead of trying to fix the system, perhaps it is time we take a look in the mirror & reexamine our own priorities: cigarettes or medication to decrease morbidity; manicures & Starbucks or an imaging test that might save your life….

Just a thought…

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