When I call out to the Emanuel E.R.’s waiting room for my fare, a meek “that’s me” emanates from the corner behind me. I look over to see a little old lady, with one arm in a sling and the other in a cast. I gently help her up and usher her out to the cab.
She’s on her way to the Hayden Island manufactured-home park. I ask her what happened, and she mumbles that she broke both arms in a fall.
“And I don’t have health insurance, of course.” She says it with the tone of resignation and bewilderment I associate with people who’ve lost everything to a natural disaster. And perhaps that’s exactly what this is. How likely is it she can afford to take this financial blow?
“They say I can go back to work tomorrow, but I don’t know how I’m going to put on my clothes.” She sounds like she’s about to cry.
“What do you do?” I ask incredulously.
“I’m a cashier,” she replies, and the thought of her trying to tough that out with broken arms is enough to choke me up. The rest of the trip is spent in silence.
When we arrive at her darkened home, I escort her to the front door. The porch is immaculately kept, with a small cat stand. She seems so much like a grandmother. Is she? Is there anyone to stay with her, to help with her bills?
I’m too afraid to ask.