My brother works for the U.S. Postal Service in Maryland. He has a walking route. In December he will turn 65. Delivering mail on foot for over 15 years takes its toll on a person’s feet, so recently Donnie has become what is known in sports journalism as oft injured, which is how Miles Austin is almost universally described, as in, Miles Austin, the talented but oft injured wide receiver for the Cowboys.
Lately, it’s been his left foot. He’s missed some time trying to determine the cause of the sharp pains that stab through it every time he takes a step. While the pains in his foot have been difficult, they pale in comparison to the pain of navigating the mind numbing, sand pounding stupidity of filing a Workman’s Compensation claim. So far, four weeks of filling out paperwork has netted my brother absolutely nothing except a corresponding new pain in his #$%@!!
So, the other night we had a phone conversation that went something like this:
Me: So, how’s the foot?
Donnie: It was getting a bit better until yesterday when my good foot started to hurt.
Me: Oh, great!
Donnie: Yeah, but the worst part is, in order to qualify for the right kind of treatment, I’m going to need a new Workman’s Comp. claim number, and you remember what I went through trying to get the first one.
Me: Did you ever get a claim number the first time?
Donnie: Well, not exactly, but I’m told that it will be any day now.
Me: Whoa, wait just a minute! This is ridiculous. Hey, aren’t you a member of a union?
Donnie: Well, yeah. They take $500 out of my check every month, so I suppose I am.
Me: Well, that’s your answer then. File a grievance with your union.
Donnie: No! I hate unions. I am philosophically opposed to them, and resent being forced to join. I could have retired by now if I could have invested all my union dues they’ve confiscated from me.
Me: Listen to me Donnie. I’m no union fan either, but the fact is, you’re a dues paying member and now is your chance to collect. What’s the biggest benefit of union membership?
Donnie: ummm….the really cool coffee mugs?
Me: No! Access to muscle, it’s time for you to call in some union thugs. I’ll guarantee you that there’s somebody down at the union hall who handles this sort of thing.
Donnie: Oh, you mean Guido?
Me: Of course I mean Guido!
Donnie: I don’t know Doug, I’ve heard stories about Guido.
Me: Yes, and I bet they go something like this…some guy knows a guy, who knows another guy down at the union hall who specializes in workman’s comp. It’s funny, but he doesn’t look like a lawyer. I mean, most lawyers aren’t 6’5”, 270, wear warm-up suits and have a toothpick hanging out of their mouth, but every time old Guido shows up with his Louisville Slugger, negotiations go surprisingly well.
Donnie: Yeah, that’s him.
I fully expect a much smoother claims process for Donnie this time around. Get better, bro!