I never thought that I’d meet people as kind and generous as the English. Being savvy in European politics, I had a very different view of them. But, as always, politics and people are a space ship ride away.
Years ago, leaving the gangplank of the ship, I fell, turned my ankle causing a deep cut in the instep, too. The taxi driver that was to transport me to the hotel was a woman named Beth. One look at the cut and my ankle now swollen, and she said, “Well, now! We'll just go to the local hospital. Not far!" I dreaded those words. But, unsure and being in a foreign country, I said nothing.
Beth told me to wait while she went inside and got me a wheel chair. Then, she drove me into a clinic-style place, immaculate with floors for dancing. She wished me good luck, I paid her and she left, wishing me good luck again. Looking at my ankle, I thought, maybe, it's broken and I don't realize it.
Immediately, a nurse came out and looked down. She said, “Well, have you been running a marathon?” Then, she took down some personal information. When she saw my birth date, she said, “So, we have a Leo here, haven't we?”
A doctor arrived soon after. “Sorry! Not to worry! The nurse will send your information to Physio.” That's when I got nervous. “But, I’m not an English citizen, doctor.”
He smiled. “We can't worry about that, can we, eh?”
He examined, x-rayed and later set my foot in a bandage to keep it in line. He advised me to use the other foot to go up a step and pull the other after me. The nurse who wheeled me out whispered, “Just apply an ice pack or a pack of frozen peas and you'll be fine in no time.”
At the hotel, I waited for a bill. It was later explained to me that I wouldn't get a bill.
England, I learned was a country with socialized medicine, a word that is anathema in the U.S. I thought back to a history book I once read that depicted life in the early 19th century, where kids about 11 or 12 years old stood before a loom in a cotton mill in a windowless factory in Lawrence, Massachusetts and worked in many other places in the U.S., including in the coal mines. No schooling or play grounds, not much food, either. Their parents needed the money because they weren't making much, either in those same places or elsewhere. In that same century, the Democrats put forth a bill to end child labor, send the underage children to school but the Republicans voted against.it. Then, in the 20th century when the same bill was presented before Congress, it passed due to the widespread protesting and fair-minded senators and president. Of course, it was too late for so many children who were terminally ill with tuberculosis and malnutrition. Certainly, too late for those who had died from ailments they contracted while working in factories and mines.
That bill and others like health care and overtime pay, the 8-hour work day, sick leave, weekends and holidays off, all children must attend school, were proposed by Socialists, all are socialist proposals. And Socialism works beautifully in Denmark, another country I visited. (There goes that vile word again). I only want to stress that when the time comes for Nicole Malliotakis to retire, I beg – plead that she not collect Social Security. It would be the height of hypocrisy on her part. Social Security is Socialism in progress.
Phyllis ‘Kiki’ Sembos