Who’s your daddy?

I walk up to the counter at the hospital lab and immediately am asked for my insurance card, my driver’s license and a requisition from my doctor all to ensure that I am not trying to steal medical service and that I am not some needle junkie who gets blood drawn for fun.

I answer personal questions, always asked loudly, and confirm my address and phone number, hoping that the weird-looking guy behind me isn’t a pervert memorizing both.

And then I wait for it, because I know the question is coming:

“What is your marital status?”

I hate this question.

I hate it more than someone asking, “How far along are you?” after I’ve had a big meal or “I like your boots; is that a size 10?” while I’m on a date.

The other irritations are because of a lack of privacy and an over-sensitivity to having big feet.

But this query, in the 21st century, is an affront because it is an independence issue.

I have been responsible for my own care and feeding since I was 21 years old.  I spent four years at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a long, hot summer at the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. learning to be a great journalist so that I could always get a job. I’ve never not worked since my first job at the Greensboro Daily News, where I was hired before I even graduated.

So the question offends me, as does the reason for it:

“Why are you asking about my marital status?”

The young, blonde doing-as-she-has-been-told receptionist says: “It’s to find out who’s responsible for your bills.”

I swallow my frustration at her ignorance and say simply, “I’m responsible for my own bills.”

I hand her my insurance card and my driver’s license, the keys to my personal information.

And I fume.

I am not an overly sensitive person. I’m a newspaper columnist, so it is impossible for me to be.

Yet every time it happens, I get irritated and a little feisty.

And I get upset that the women – and it is usually a woman who asks – never understand why.

My hope is that one day, even without prodding, hospitals, banks and other entities, will finally get that ,sometimes, women are doing it for ourselves.

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