Dear so and so

Dear Henry “Show Me The Money” Paulson,

I know I wrote to you late last night asking for a million dollars but I am back again for another hand out. I know, I know, but I have a better story for you this time. It involves financial ruin and death. Nice huh? Check this out:

So it was the summer of 2001 and I was living like the average American. I was working 50 to 60 hours a week at a job (restaurant work of course) that payed pretty well but didn’t bother paying overtime (they do now, a quick call to the Labor Department rectified that situation). I didn’t have health insurance but I did have a couple of credit cards with a little bit of an unpaid balance but not a ton. Oh, and I had this strange lump on my neck just below where you feel for your pulse.

I also had a big gay brother who was moving from LA to NYC. When he arrived he was all yellow and itchy and looked to have hepatitis in a big bad way. Except that it wasn’t hepatitis at all. He, in fact, had cholangiocarcinoma (“it must be Italian“). It’s a cancer of the bile duct that drains the liver (Factoid: you only have one liver and you can’t live without it. Who knew?). So the rest of 2001 pretty much fucking sucked the most royal ass I have ever had the displeasure of sucking. Like take the first time you ever had your heart broken. Got it? Now take that feeling times 700 billion. And every day it keeps getting worse except for those false hope days, which, thats right you guessed it, only make the bad days even worse. Throw in the lack of a serious girlfriend, a general malaise and “the day that changed everything”–9motherfucking11–and you have the recipe for a remarkably bad time. Anyway Hank, I don’t want to bore you with the details (I know you hate those things Mister Secretary) but lets just say it wasn’t the greatest time in my life.

Like I was saying earlier you can’t live without a functioning liver so my brother, aged 37 years, chose the day after Christmas 2001 to depart this earth. And yes Hank it was a choice my brother made. Many people with less strength and resolve would have died long before my brother chose to. He fought his way to Christmas with every fiber of his being, even those fibers which were conspiring against him including his non-functioning liver and nearly useless bowels. So, yes he chose to die after making it through one final Christmas with his family….but I digress.

While my brother was sick I missed a lot of work. I also traveled often to see him once he went home to be with our parents to live out his last days. I did a lot of this on those credit cards you guys like us to use so much. During that time I ran up a bit of debt–yippee–to go on top of the relatively small debt I already had. Plus I had stopped going to college so I could help take care of my brother (I couldn’t fucking focus anyway) so my student loans–thousands and thousands of dollars worth–were in repayment. But I was helping the Bush economy as much as possible what with all the flying and airport shopping I was doing. Doing my part for post 9/11 America. By the way, it was so easy to get bumped up to business or even first class during that time, those planes were half full dude. All you had to do was ask at the gate check in desk.

When my brother died I got a little paranoid about cancer and about me having it. So in February 2002 I went to see a doctor about that mystery lump on my neck. At the time I didn’t have health insurance. The doctor literally touched my neck and said we should keep an eye on that and if it is still there in a month or two we could perform a biopsy. That was it. He just touched my neck.

A few months later I get some crappy health insurance through work–still almost $300 bucks a month for fucks sake–and I go back to the doctor in April and he does a fine needle aspiration biopsy and it comes back “inconclusive” which turns out to be another way of saying “you have cancer, we just don’t know which kind yet.” In May I have surgery to remove the “inconclusive” lump and have the thing tested and it turns out to be–drum roll please–cancer. “Oh yea cancer, my brother just died from that. I can’t wait to tell my family, they are going to be so fucking psyched.” They weren’t.

It is a strange thing to hear the words “you have cancer” uttered in your direction. But let me tell you this Secretary Paulson, I could pick several days from 2001-2002 which could easily be “worst day in my life” winners for just about any American (By the way, for me, none of the top five would be the 11th of September 2001). And surely the day I heard those words “you have cancer” should at least make my top five right? Actually no, it doesn’t. Having heard those words told to me and also been present when my brother was told he has a type of liver cancer, I know for a fact that I would rather be the one with cancer than to sit there like some sort of useless asshole watching my brother being torn up on the inside with the knowledge that he has THE disease. Having had to call my parents with the news of my cancer I know I would rather be the one doing the calling then be my mother or father hearing that the youngest of their three sons now has cancer after already losing their oldest to the disease. Having had to make the same call to my surviving brother I know I would rather be the one doing the calling then be him hearing that I might quickly follow our older brother from this earth. I would rather be told that I have cancer than hear that my surviving brother has cancer or that my wife has cancer or my mom or dad or stepfather or stepmother or stepbrothers or cousins or aunts or uncles or close friends and even some not so close friends have cancer. Trust me on this. So that day sucked, a lot, but it wasn’t my worst day ever. Doesn’t even make the top five.

But there was good news because it was the type of cancer you want; Papillary Thyroid Cancer. Believe me, if you want to survive cancer get this one. I didn’t know how lucky I was that day as I sat in the car in front of the doctor’s office making those phone calls. I just knew I had a type of cancer and I scared the living shit out of my family with the news. They weren’t any more knowledgeable about Papillary Thyroid Cancer than I was so all they heard was CANCER. I really should have went home and looked it up on the internet before calling the family (I blame it on the cell phone). So after two major operations and a round of radioactive iodine I was a recovering cancer patient. I was also a recovering cancer patient with a preexisting condition and therefore none of my treatment was covered. And all it took was that one doctor touching my neck that one time. I’ve had more contact with strangers on the subway than I did that day in the doctor’s office (No I am not a perv, the subway gets fucking crowded. You can’t help but be touched by strangers.). It was right there in the fine print. The insurance company didn’t lie or anything I was just simply screwed. Should have never taken any concern about my health when I didn’t have insurance. How stupid was I?

So there I was: depressed at the death of my brother, depressed at having cancer even though my prognosis was good, not working much, in debt with maxed out credit cards, medical bills and college loans. I did the math and realized that even if I used half of the money I made each month working full time I would still be paying down my debt for like 500 years (only a slight exaggeration).

So guess what I did Hank Paulson. That’s right, I filed for bankruptcy. I know I wasn’t in debt to the Chinese and I didn’t have a mortgage or anything. It may not be sexy enough of a story for you; average Joe maxes out credit cards visiting and helping to take care of his dying brother. Then average Joe gets cancer and survives but medical bills aren’t covered due to a preexisting condition. I know, I know, it is a terribly pedestrian story without Wall Street intrigue. No gambling with millions. No Chinese. But it is the story I have for you right now.

“Where do I come in?” you must be asking yourself right now. Well, I was thinking since you are buying out these mega lending institutions and insurance companies at tax payers expense I was wondering if you could throw in a few hundred thousand for your buddy Iceberg Wedge (by the way this is in addition to the million I asked for late last night and haven’t received yet). That way I could pay back the hospitals, doctors and credit card companies all that money I owed them before I filed for bankruptcy. Then I could pay a lawyer to restore my good name and get my credit back. Then I thought I would pay off my college loans as well. And then, after we help get Obama elected President on November 4th, the wife and I would go on a round the world trip with whatever was left over.

I don’t think it is too much to ask Hank. It sure would help me out though. I hope you can find it within yourself to ask Congress for a little extra. Barring that maybe you could scrape off a little from the payouts to the CEOs you have lined up. Just a thought.

Really hope you can make this happen Henry.


Iceberg Wedge

4 Responses

  1. I hope you really sent that to him.

  2. Betty, did you actually read that long ass thing? Well thank you for taking the time. I struggle with the idea of posting personal stuff like that. I tell myself that it is relevant to what is going on and therefore is ok to put out there. Then I rattle off 10 posts about Sarah Palin shooting animals in the face.

  3. Yes, I read it, and I found it funny and sad and topical all at the same time. There are literally millions stories that are directly relevant to the shit-storm we’re experiencing, but few are ever expressed with the humor, candor and eloquence with which you’ve expressed yours, and I’m damn glad you shared it.

    I’m sorry about your brother. And I’m freaking glad you’re still with us. Thank you for your honesty and for illustrating so searingly exactly what is at stake here, which is worth more than 500 blasts from Palin’s gun. Not that Palin’s antics don’t merit 10 mocking posts…but, I just wanted to say, well done.

  4. Thank you Betty, that means a lot to me.

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