Read Part 1
The final paragraph of the rejection letter I received informed me that if I didn’t agree with the decision, I had a right to appeal. The dentist who’d sent the request had cautioned that infection might set in if I left the damaged section unrepaired. I phoned some agency—probably the Department of Human Services—and scheduled an appeal. I expected a committee of several stern people, sitting erect behind a huge bench that dwarfed me as I stated my case, my tiny voice ricocheting off the walls of the cavernous chamber. Instead I met with a lone condescending dumbass in his modest office.
A cripplevan lugged me downtown, to the nondescript government building where I‘d scheduled my meeting with a public aid stooge. I checked in with one of several receptionists; she immediately led me down a long hall past file cabinets, copy machines, and plastic plants, to the public aid stooge’s office.
The humble nook reeked of subservience. He sat behind a commonplace desk, ignored me and sighed as he asked the receptionist: “What’s his name and what’s he want?” She answered while placing a manila file in front of him. She scurried out of the room; he brusquely flipped through the file. He finally regarded me and simpered: ”So, Mr. [Paco], we think that public aid should pay for our dentist, hmm? Well, we’d like to, but public aid doesn’t…” He over-enunciated a dumbed-down explanation of the policies for funding dental procedures. I politely allowed him to finish his obviously scripted presentation.
Then I responded by assuring him that I understood the policies. I related my dentist’s concern about infection, and pointed out that it would be financially “prudent” for public aid to cover the tab and be done with it, rather than leave themselves subject to long-term nickel-and-diming. He continued to simper while his eyes bulged: “Wow! Where’d you learn a big word like ‘prudent’?” I remarked that I’d graduated from high school, and asked if he’d done the same. I also wondered aloud: “Since when do two syllables make a big word?”
But he ignored me and dialed his phone as I spoke. He advised: “I have to call my boss and see what he says. I’ll put it on speakerphone so you can hear.” When his boss picked up, the stooge began: “I have Mr. [Paco] with me, and…” He explained the situation and my grounds for appeal; made eye contact with me, smiled and winked as he repeated the word “prudent.” His boss recognized my logic and okayed the expenditure.
The stooge insisted on “helping” me maneuver my wheelchair out of his office and up the hall. Despite my repeated objections, he grabbed the handles on the back of my wheelchair and started to push. Asshole.
The day of the appointment with my new dentist arrived. I rolled out of the cripple-van and toward a building. The plaque next to the doorway announced “Special Needs Dentistry.”