Here’s the scene:
On a bright winter morning,
One European and
Five American adults are standing in the driveway.
One adult is steadying a child, while another adult holds a long, serrated bread knife.
Ten children are running around playing, while one child lies on the cement having his cast sawed off, prior to his orthopedic doctor’s appointment.
“You’re going to cut his toes,” a child yelled.
“Keep cutting at that angle,” the Uncle said steadily.
“Oh no…Oh no! Be careful!,” an Aunt worried.
Nothing. Absolute silence from the European observer.
Our morning had started out quite normally. My family was in Florida visiting my sister Sarah before her family returned to Portugal. While we were there, a dear Portuguese friend, Rui, was also visiting the States. Over watered-down milk (a large family trick) and sugar-infused coffee (of a very non-European kind), the men began talking about the differences between American and European nations, stuff like government, taxes, and gun laws.
Sarah walked in, adding a new talking point to the conversation, “I just got off the phone with the doctor’s office. They said they don’t have a cast saw at the office. They said we could reschedule.”
My 7-year-old nephew had broken his foot jumping out of a tree and had been in a leg cast for five weeks. That day’s appointment was for the cast to be removed. So, the question immediately became “What kind of doctor’s office doesn’t have a cast cutter ready to go when an appointment has been specifically scheduled to take off a child’s cast?” Rescheduling wasn’t an option, because Sarah and her crew were leaving the “Land of the Brave” in a few days.
“Or they said we could cut it off ourselves and just bring him in for his X-ray,” Sarah continued.
Nothing. Absolute silence from our Portuguese friend, Rui.
Erupted chaos boomed from the Americans.
“Are you serious?!” exclaimed Mike, the father of the casted child.
“I’ll get a knife,” offered Steve, the Eagle Scout uncle (and my hubby).
“His foot is going to stink!” declared Elaina, the teenage sister.
But we all paraded outside to take matters into our own hands. The children were laughing (even the patient). The women were anxious of the scene unfolding before us. The men stoic and concentrating on the challenge ahead.
Then, just as the knife cutting ceremony began, Ruth unexpectedly drove up with her four youngest children and two dozen Dunkin’ Donuts. Shocked by the scene, she came yelling from the car and approached her poor nephew, “WHHHAAAATTTTT IS GOING ON!!!???”
At last, Rui laughed in disbelief, “And you think European healthcare isn’t good?”