Park Ranger in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, recently injured in an MVA and without health insurance, requests audience with a top dog.

Ok, me and 300 million other Americans. But with President Obama and friends being so much more people-friendly than those of the past, with him doing a tour of national parks and with health care being such the hot topic right now, I suppose I had to try, right?

Long story short: I am horribly poor, quasi-homeless and have been in and out of underemployment my whole adult life which I recently discovered is largely due to my being Asperger's/High Functioning Autistic. Learning that I seem to thrive best in seasonal/contract/short term jobs (there long enough for them to be impressed with my skills but not long enough for the office politics vultures to start pecking away at my unsuspecting carcass), I wound up in a seasonal job with the Park Service. Pays great, 40+ hours a week, but even the government finds a way to do this without having to pay us benefits.

Last week I was in a motorcycle wreck (on my way to a family wedding no less!) when a well-meaning but ignorant mechanic overfilled my back tire. I'm not on a motorcycle because I'm a risk-taker, I'm on one because I literally can't afford a car. Protective gear and the skills and presence of mind to control the skid to some degree helped, but still left me with enough injuries for a 2 night hospital stay, shoulder surgery, and an out-of-pocket bill which will surely mean personal bankruptcy.

President Obama (or more likely, his aide/intern screening these emails), if we were a stone age village of 3 dozen people and you can't join the hunt today because of a broken leg, I'm not going to let you starve. I'm going to help you heal so you can join the next hunt and without some inhuman condition that you pay me obscene wages for my help or I'll sit back and watch you die of your own poverty. For one thing, how are you to join in future hunts unless your leg heals? If your disability is permanent I'm still not going to sit back and watch you die just because you can't shower me in gold for helping you out. For one thing, there's a good chance our stone age religion dictates that we have compassion for the needy.

Maybe it's the Autism, but I honestly do not see why that basic sense of humanity has to end just because our stone age village of 3 dozen has grown into an industrial village of 350 million. Few people seem to have a problem with our tax dollars going into public schools for those who choose it/need it. Even people like me who are childless and have every reason to say "Why should I pay for your kid's education?" It's because your kid's education affects me. Whether your kid ends up on the street or a productive member of society affects me. Whether your kid learns to be led by superstition or to lead by reason affects me because it's your kid who is going to be my next President, teacher, boss, employee, purse snatcher, con artist, doctor, revolutionary or motorcycle mechanic who I damn sure hope learned the physics of tires under high air pressure in heat and high elevation.

For those same reasons, your health and your kid's health care and the health of all my neighbors and coworkers affect me; whether or not they can make it to work today, or ever.

As I doubt I'll ever get to say it in person let me say it to your aide/intern now who is screening this email: Please President Obama, please, please, please do not back down to the horrifying scare tactics and bullying from the (non)Right on this issue. Bipartisanship be damned if they won't play nice in the sandbox. Just as we needed civil rights when so many violently opposed it, just as we needed women's rights when so many tried to blow it off as all in our heads, this country needs to be able to take care of its sick and injured like any civilized society would.

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Comment by Jo Jerome on August 22, 2009 at 2:11pm
Thanks Nicole - and that's weird, you and I had mirror image experiences in school. You were a product of a culture that over-diagnoses. I was a product of one that was afraid to recognize such a mild diagnosis. My parents did indeed have me tested for a learning disability when I was 15, though knowing Mom it was really just an attempt to shame me into getting better grades. The only results I was given at the time was, "High IQ, bored to tears in a conventional classroom setting." Would find out years later they also diagnosed me with Borderline Personality Disorder, which I've been well assured I don't have and have never had. But at that time, BPD was something of a 'garbage can diagnosis.' A fancy way of saying, "She has something, we just don't really know what it is."

Mom and Dad blew the dx off at the time, being of that culture where it's an incredible mark of shame for your kid to have neurological/emotional issues (not even a 'disease,' but just a different way of processing information).

Sounds like you have the opposite problem going on; A culture that wants to blame every temper tantrum, every snarky remark to the teacher, every sign that a kid is thinking outside the box, as a 'disease.' It's too bad, because things like ADD really do exist and drugs like Ritalin really do help some people. Does no one any good to be crying wolf on every 5 year old for acting like ... well ... a 5 year old.
Comment by Nicole Hellene on August 22, 2009 at 2:39am
Hey they stuck me with this diagnosis when I was in school, of course I didn't have it because every kid gets stuck with some diagnosis in school, it's either ADD (if you're just kinda unruly) or Autism (if you're a rebel). It's just an excuse to get you out of their classroom. Anyway, I recommend checking up on government programs. Look into the Department of Rehab, I could have gotten all my college paid for thru them if I didn't go get undiagnosed myself when I was 18. I'm not going to take the people's money for a disease I don't even have.
Comment by Jo Jerome on August 15, 2009 at 8:45pm
It's kind of me/my-story specific, but yeah, sure!
Comment by Jay on August 15, 2009 at 7:55pm
can I share this if it is an open letter? :3

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