It’s been awhile since I told all of you about my knee, and I know some of you must be wondering, what’s Lisa been doing about that torn meniscus, when she isn’t frittering away her time snarking about the weather?
Well, what I’ve been doing is appealing my denial for insurance to Kaiser (with no luck) scheduling my surgery (July 21st) and struggling through hospital paperwork to try to get a discount. That last part’s a little tough, because both my husband and I are self-employed so instead of simply supplying our paycheck stubs, we have to send in business records. And usually I wait until about March 15th of the upcoming year to transform my stack of receipts into anything that resembles an accounting system. But I did manage to get everything together.
I’m still waiting to hear back from Providence about whether I’ll get a discount based on our household income, but I do know that I’ll get a price cut because I don’t have insurance. The orthopedist’s office knocks off 50% for a cash payment up front, and the hospital reduces the bill by either 26 or 29% for the uninsured (they gave me and my husband different numbers). The really awesome news, though, is that one of my customers is stepping up to help me. Yeah, you read that right. A customer has offered to pay for my surgery.
Since I’ve started my business, I’ve had a variety of customers, some more understanding and easy to work for than others. I’m always touched and surprised by how nice some of these people can be, how concerned they are for my well-being, and how flexible concerning the work I do. They understand things like bad weather, scheduling conflicts, injury and illness. This particular customer (or maybe I should say “customers”, since they’re a husband and wife) has always been particularly friendly, flexible, and generous. But still, I was completely floored when they offered to pay for my surgery. Who does things like that in real life? And what really moved me was not just the generosity (which was staggering enough) but the implied trust. These people are willing to hand me a check, made out in my name, no strings attached. They have faith that I will use it for the intended purpose, and not run off to Tahiti. For some reason, when people trust me, it’s always a shocker. I don’t know why. I certainly don’t go around doing untrustworthy things, but I guess somehow when I was young I learned to expect people to doubt me. When they don’t, when the opposite happens, I feel incredibly honored.
These customers don’t expect me to pay them back, but they understand that I feel more comfortable working off the debt than simply taking the money. They’re glad I was able to accept this gift without feeling awkward. Well, the truth is I do feel a little awkward, but I understand the spirit of giving. I’ve often felt moved to help friends and members of my writing community with my time and skills, and sometimes these people have a hard time accepting, because they feel I’ve given them too much. I guess they don’t realize that there’s a value to giving that makes it worth the expense. I feel good when I can connect a person with the right information, or make their learning process easier than mine was. That makes the time I invested worthwhile. So when my customers offered to do this for me, I thought about how I feel when someone won’t accept a gift from me. I realized that if I was in the financial position to do something like this for someone else, I’d feel bad if that person wouldn’t let me.
Now this is sort of a difficult thing to explain, because it could come off sounding like I’m giving myself an excuse to take advantage of someone’s generosity. It could seem that accepting something this big is just plain greedy. I hope it doesn’t appear that way.
I’d like to be able to tell you who these customers are, because they have a business and it would be cool if I could promote that for them. But they’re asked me not to “out” them on my blog. They said it was okay to talk about them anonymously, and that I should tell my readers that they said this: “We are so appreciative of your hard work and the magic you do to make our private and professional spaces so special that it’s an honor to help you. You have no idea what kind of compliments we get on the spaces you’ve worked on! New people come in to the office because it looks so inviting.”
And once again, I’m touched by the very idea that they would say such nice things. It’s hard for me to believe I’ve given them that much value. It’s hard for me to understand why anyone would be so kind and generous to me. But I am truly grateful that there are people in the world whose hearts are so big they’ll step up in such an awesome way.