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The Affordable Spirit Care Act

Charles Orloski: One snowy day in March, I lost a job that I did not want anymore, and the Company did not want me.

One snowy day in March,
I lost a job that I did not want anymore,
and the Company did not want me.
Returned home, had to break news to wife Carol.
Another life setback,
we must consider employer's mandatory
offer for Cobra family heath care insurance;
cost $1,800.00 a month.
Wished we could afford such coverage,
but at age 62, it was fun merely thinking about
Cobra care and grand possibilities.

Sidewalk covered, six inches snow on ground,
I had little to do but clear path for mailman.
Carol considered manual motion therapeutic,
and besides, the Company Excellus
health care coverage was good 'til March 31st,
so if heart attack comes, I'd have coverage.

Outdoors, 8:15 AM,
a Taylor cop parked across Union Street,
he must have thought I had day off,
Sergeant Roche stared out squad car window,
the Borough enforced a strict road weight limit.
Sarge needed to stop and inspect 18-wheelers,
he might have noticed I dropped fifteen pounds
since New Year, cut back blood pressure meds,
I cleared snow, tossed puffy mounds upon lawn,
snow kept piling up to rear,
it's sweet to work with no worries about weight.

Snow gusts, cop car exhaust smoke,
a brown man on bicycle pedaled west,
did not understand someone cycling in such storm,
I raised shovel, cheered him on.
He stopped, removed dark hood and goggles.
Said he's “Santos,” 27-years-old,
a South Side Scranton resident,
had apartment, three young children,
Santos bound for Metkote Laminating Inc.,
half mile away.
Everyday since All Souls Day,
he rode County of Lackawanna Transit System
bus to Main Street, unloaded bicycle from
lower level storage bin, climbed Union Street,
energetic, smile beamed, Santos said,
“So happy Mister to have good job, I will make
always good for my kids, we get to keep home.”

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Santos understood much more snow coming.
He had some time before punching Metkote time clock,
desired to help complete snow shoveling for me.
Grateful, I began to tell Santos an Ayn Rand story,
how its in America's best interest to continue on way to work.
Even joked, said “And God giveth snow, God taketh snow.”
Santos persisted,
begged permission to do his “good deed for day...,
allow me to shovel your sidewalks, until clean?”
He added, “maybe when I am old, someone help me.”

Now at last, a molested employment statistic,
I could finally tell someone lower than me
to go away, you're fired, not needed any more.
Explained to Santos, “good deed already performed,”
recorded in the only ledger that really counted,
inside silent human spirit.
We shook hands, a weapon-check of long ago,
Santos mounted bike, pedaled west to Metkote,
bike's red reflector light gone dim,
he still needed one good deed for day.
Heard him sing a song until the only other
sound was Sergeant Roche's Japanese engine.
Frost on whiskers, damp feet ached,
I wondered about A.C.A.'s web site...,
were G.O.P. rumors true?
Snow covered bike tire tracks on Union Street,
wife Carol looked out frosted window,
she's re-heating chicken soup, “Jewish Penicillin
and unaffordable Cobra in every pot,” she quipped.

Charles Orloski