Right now I’m at a friend’s funeral. He was 22 and died of kidney disease. He was skipping dialysis because he was an hourly food service worker and couldn’t afford to lose any pay. I’m sitting here in the lobby, thinking about the people getting rich off the #ChickenSandwich.
— Allison Robicelli (@robicellis) August 24, 2019
You know the responses that come out to a story like this always, because they come out anytime somebody gets hurt/sick and our health care system flattens them: Well why didn’t he … why didn’t she … what if you had …
One thing I need to clarify — as there seems to be some confusion in my mentions — is that James DID have healthcare. Starbucks is one of the few fast casual concepts who tries to care for their workers. The problem is the security of hourly food service work.
— Allison Robicelli (@robicellis) August 25, 2019
It’s all deflection, of course, it’s all plain old animal fear and basic-bitch bargaining, that if I just do everything perfectly no one will get tumors and I’ll stay rich forever, but that doesn’t make it better. It makes it worse. If your only “lifehack” is “have a fuckload of money and an army of personal assistants to take care of the chaos of the world,” like if that’s the only way anything remotely works, that’s not a sign that you alone have your shit together. That’s a sign that the way the world is constructed is only remotely bearable by the very wealthy and everyone else is ten seconds away from being utterly screwed.
Okay, you have “health insurance” that will now pay for 90 percent of your $100,000 cancer treatment bill. Where does the other $10,000 come from? You have health insurance and maybe you even have $10,000, good for you, but that was your down payment on a house in a mostly ok school district and now you’re back in your shitty apartment with no savings and your toddler. You have health insurance and savings and a house but if you take time off work you’ll be fired and then the health insurance goes away and eventually so do the savings and the house. Without a million dollars in the bank and good credit, how do you even DO this? Like this doesn’t make sense.
The smug people who feel like they “made it” on their own before student loans and before hospital consolidations and before, you know, all the GOP tax-cutting, they have no concept of the precariousness of things. Of how taking a half day off can affect the entirety of someone’s future. Of how “a job” isn’t enough anymore, of how “two jobs” sometimes isn’t enough, in the face of a system that dooms you for one step outside the lines.
And it’s not all money. It’s the time that money buys. It’s the capacity to figure out the solution to a problem and you can’t think when you’re in the middle of it, when you’re scrambling to get to the bus that will get you to the train that will get you to the job that will pay for the childcare that allows for the job and the bus and the train fare. You can’t sit back and make strategic decisions about the ongoing juggling act that is your life because if you take your eyes off the balls for even one second you’re going to drop them. Even people with money are like this, can you imagine what it’s like without any?
We don’t have the capacity to make every single decision perfectly, to reason out all the angles and decide if I just set my alarm two seconds earlier I will never miss the bus. I will never accidentally overdraw my checking account and incur a $50 fee I have no way to pay for. I will never forget anything, lose anything, break anything. You can’t live like that, none of us are built that way, and the more things we have to keep track of the less capable we are of keeping track. The more we need help the less room we have inside our heads to ask for it, or get it. I mean, I need six hours on Sunday to do any kind of meal planning and I have no problems anyone should care about, you know?
We do not have a system that is built for people. For poor people, for any people who aren’t wildly rich and incredibly capable and assisted by everyone on the planet. Those assistants? There’s no world that makes their world possible.