Her Deductible
(1 man, 1 woman)

Ben Ohmart

(An insurance office. Sick MAN, who smokes and drinks and is constantly in very bad health, sits behind a nice desk. WOMAN enters)
WOMAN.Can I get some insurance?
MAN. This is an insurance office.
WOMAN. It's just that I don't have much money.
MAN. We prefer money when we're dishing out insurance.
WOMAN. Yes, but medical insurance. I heard I could work my way through medical insurance.
MAN. Yes, that's true. Would you like to work your way through medical insurance?
WOMAN. I think I'd like to work my way through medical insurance.
MAN. Great. Great. You just start to fill our this application while I ask you a few personal questions for my own report. There's a physical required, you know.
WOMAN. Physical what?
MAN. Examination. If you want to work your way through working here, we've got to make sure about your health. How's your health?
WOMAN. Very good.
MAN. Oh that's bad.
WOMAN. No that's good.
MAN. No you see. To meet the require -
WOMAN. Cuffed.
MAN. What?
WOMAN. Cuffed. What's that mean here?
MAN. Oh. That's a misprint. It should read "address". Just fill out your address.. there. No, what I was going to say was that, we get a lot of sick people in here. A lot of them can't afford to pay. So we worked it out with the state that if we let you work in here, they'll give us an amazing amount of money. Amazing. Unbelievable. Whoo! Big. But we have to go by the sickest. They're the ones who need the most coverage after all.
WOMAN. What's this wasp toner?
MAN. Yes, that'll be race. You just fill in if you're black or white. I have a mirror in my desk if you're not sure. But in your case it'll be white..
WOMAN. Thanks. (Coughs lightly)
MAN. Good. That's good. I certainly hope you can develop something chronic by the end of the interview.
WOMAN. My mother had a wooden leg. And by the time she died it had spread to the rest of her body. I'll do my best.
MAN. That's all any of us can do. Has your father had any kind of disease?
WOMAN. Drinking.
MAN. Good. And how -
WOMAN. Excuse me. This question - "if the president of this insurance firm were to ask you any question, would you answer "yes"? What's that mean?
MAN. That's a little long for a typo isn't it? We just want to know how bad you want the job. That's all. - Have you ever been convicted of a felony?
WOMAN. Never convicted, no.
MAN. We'll let that pass. And what was your reason for leaving your last medical insurance?
WOMAN. Um....
MAN. We'll just put vacation. Finished? (She hands him application)
WOMAN. Should I take off my panties now?
MAN. For the examination? Just down to your bra is fine. We have no legal justification for body searches. We've checked. You just want a job after all. But do you mind if we video tape the removal? Just for our own records..
(WOMAN shakes her head "no" and MAN pushes a button on his desk. WOMAN takes off shirt exposing bra. One breast is larger than the other; about this:)
WOMAN. I was in a hurry this morning. And I ran out of Kleenex. Can you believe it?
MAN. I don't mind. - Now do you object to a drug test? It's required by law. So I don't know what you're going to do if you say yes.
WOMAN. No.
MAN. You don't know either?
WOMAN. No I don't mind the test. That doesn't have to be filmed too?
MAN. No, no. (Pushes button to stop camera. Opens drawer of desk) I'm all out of crack. I hope this will do.. (Hands her a joint)
WOMAN. That's fine. (Takes it and puffs a few times, then hands it back)
MAN. Fine.
WOMAN. How was that?
MAN. Fine. Good. I'd extend my ring finger a little more. Maybe sway the head. But good. I'm putting "passing".
WOMAN. When would I start? I work at a manure bagging plant right now so I'd need ample warning to really start washing my hands.
MAN. We're not there yet. Just a few more questions, please. Where do you see yourself in five years? Dead? Crippled? At the main office?
WOMAN. I just need coverage.
MAN. You need a little motivation if you want a future with this company. (Has a coughing fit. WOMAN pats him on back)
WOMAN. I'll be alive and well probably. (He's over his attack) You want some water or something?
MAN. (Waves "no") It only happens when I stop smoking and drinking. (Writes) "Alive and well".
WOMAN. I might develop cancer - one never knows.
MAN. That's true. That's true. Now tell me, if you have any problems with any of these areas. Eyes?
WOMAN. I - I - I don't -
MAN. Pretty bad. How about your hearing?
WOMAN. I'm sorry?
MAN. Okay. Any breathing problems?
WOMAN. I start heaving heavy at the sight of new Disney cartoon movies.
MAN. Don't we all. Good. Now I have to ask you these diseases. Think carefully before you answer. You might have forgotten having one. Polio?
WOMAN. Yes. I've had chicken.
MAN. Sharp girl. Bronchitis?
WOMAN. No.
MAN. Muscular dystrophy?
WOMAN. No.
MAN. You're not really trying, are you? (She coughs for sympathy) Hepatitis?
WOMAN. No.
MAN. Asthma?
WOMAN. No.
MAN. B.O.?
WOMAN. Yes. Definitely that.
MAN. Tuberculosis?
WOMAN. No.
MAN. Clap?
WOMAN. No.
MAN. Pneumonia?
WOMAN. No. But I've seen movies where people die from that. It didn't make me feel too good.
MAN. You don't seem to understand. You've got to be piss poor. I've got a castrated choir boy who's sicker than you. And he was "that way" to begin with.
WOMAN. My uncle had a growth on this neck shaped like Ron Cey.
MAN. Take a deep breath.
(Takes out stethoscope and puts it on her chest. She breathes and he takes it off. While looking at her chest:)
MAN. Yes, I'm afraid you're a healthy girl. Even without paper goods. Put your shirt on. Slowly. I want to photograph this. (Pushes button again)
WOMAN. I've really got to get that insurance. You don't know how little manure pays.
MAN. Don't give me that shit. You didn't even complain when the stethoscope was too cold. I keep it in an ice bucket for just that purpose. Try.
WOMAN. That's because I didn't feel a thing. My whole body's numb.
MAN. Good response. I'll put that down, but on second thought... our branch manager, Mr. Norm Leer, may want to test that statement thoroughly.
WOMAN. Is that it?
MAN. I still have quite a list of diseases to go through with you.
(Shows her the big stack of papers)
MAN. But I'll tell you what. Something I do for the applicants I like. I like you. You really want this job don't you?
WOMAN. Oh yes. I'm afraid to shave my legs because I don't have medical insurance. My dog's starting to growl at me. Bushes.
MAN. Yes. This is what I do. We mark "yes" to amnesia, then leave all the others blank. For the obvious reason. It's worked.
(Has coughing fit, so he lights up a cigarette quickly, takes a puff then a swig from a bottle of hard liquor)
MAN. I'm all right. I'm okay. All right. You see. I'm working my way through health insurance too. I'm a real lost cause. So I blew the competition away. Not with a gun of course.
WOMAN. What are the duties?
MAN. Well that depends on your disease or handicap, doesn't it? We're not going to let you take dictation or type if you've only got one leg, are we? Not at first.
WOMAN. Well I can drive to do errands.
MAN. I'd be careful about that one. That involves hand-eye coordination. Don't let them catch you in a question like that. Actually, the sicker you are, the less you can do. And so the less you do the higher the job security you've got. Comprendo?
WOMAN. Yes. I won't do anything. I really appreciate this, sir.
MAN. Ah, don't mention it. I was as healthy as you are when I got here. I was only part time so I had only partial coverage. But then I started smoking, eating, drinking, fast living - went from a forty percent deductible to full-time employment. I'm as well as any dead man.
WOMAN. What would my deductible be?
MAN. (Coughs) Hundred percent deductible now, for yourself. You'll start at fifty percent, or less, I'm sure. But this is a fine company, and you'll climb the ladder quick.
WOMAN. What do you think my chances are?
MAN. Of getting coverage here? Oh fine. When I submit my (Coughs louder) report. You'll have as fine a chance as any other of the unemployed. But. Positions are scarce. A lot of applicants. And as of yet nothing available. I'm afraid you'll have to let those legs bush up for a little while longer. But we'll see.
WOMAN. Thank you so much, sir. I tried to make a good impression. I must admit.
MAN. I could tell by the Kleenex. Good chance. Good chance. (Starts coughing)
WOMAN. I can find my way out because I've used doors before. Windows too. But I'll use this door.
MAN. Good luck, miss. (But he's coughing louder)
WOMAN. Bye. Bye. Thanks. You're pretty good. No, you're wonderful.
MAN. (Having a real fit now; he's worried) Miss! Miss! (She comes back) I think - I... think - I see a position becoming available... (As he's gasping he manages to sign a form then gets something from desk drawer) Just give this to....
(But he finally dies. WOMAN takes paper and from the other hand gets a stick of chalk which MAN got from drawer, and she begins timidly outlining the body with it as lights fade)

THE END

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