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.