· for CBC N.L.
Picture this: you just finished grocery shopping for the week. Standing in front of the glass door that leads to a crowded parking lot in St. John’s, you see a not-so-scary snowstorm coming before you.
Luckily, you’re just a couple of metres away from the bus stop, so it shouldn’t be that bad. You don’t take the bus regularly because of its lack of efficiency — sometimes it’s easier and faster to walk, instead of waiting for an extra half hour.
This time, the bus is your best bet. Plus, the bus will leave you almost in front of your door. Sounds like a well-thought-out plan.
You’re trying to be positive. Although this is not your first winter in Newfoundland and you know how to deal with it, sometimes it’s hard to keep yourself positive. Kudos to you.
Now that you’ve made a plan, you put your groceries on the floor to prepare yourself to face this winter crusade: you pull out your mittens, put your warm hat on, cover your mouth and nose with your bulky scarf.
You walk through the glass door.
You can feel the immediate change in temperature and the wind. You start walking slowly, aware of the slippery street, balancing the grocery bags you’re carrying. It seems like there is enough salt on the floor to protect you from sliding, and the bus stop is barely 60 metres away.
Your right boot swiftly slides on an icy spot that the salt didn’t cover. Miraculously, you juggle the grocery bags, as though you were on a tightrope above a hungry shark waiting for its prey to fall.
You find your balance and stand still for a second. That was close!
You let a laugh out, take a deep breath and try all over again.
Now you’re sitting on the barely cleared sidewalk with all your groceries around you. No laughs this time.
Instead, slow tears that freeze as they fall down your face. Your ankle. Despite the cold making your body feel numb, you can feel pain. Deep, sharp, acute pain. It’s broken, you know it.
In the distance, you see the bus arrive, its passengers get out while some others hop on, and you’re still on the ground in pain. No bus, no groceries, no laughs, but a broken ankle and the fear of having to go to the doctor.
No, you’re not afraid of needles, and prescriptions — you’re afraid to have to pay fully for the medical service in ER.
The answer I’ve always encountered is ‘you’re not eligible.’
You don’t have health coverage.
You really don’t know why you’re crying now: if it’s the pain of your broken ankle or of depleting your minimum wage savings to pay the medical bills.