An Example of ZoBabe Being Lost for Words

On May 7th 2011, a day after The Illustrious Estranged gave a speech on grass roots organization, and his struggles to help people from his village overcome poverty, our daughter developed a sudden ear ache. I’m normally one to eschew doctors, and go with home remedies for minor ailments. But heating pads and peppermint oil just weren’t cutting it, and the poor child was in pain.

It’s been a longstanding arrangement with The Illustrious Estranged that he generally takes her to the doctor, mostly because I’ve been very resistant to driving and am just now getting comfortable on a small motorbike. Still, the local clinic where she usually goes, and which has her records, is a bit out of my comfort range. However, The Illustrious Estranged was at the airport retrieving a guest, so time to bite the bullet.

This is when I was reminded of the other reason we usually leave it to the Illustrious Estranged to handle medical issues. “White people tax.”

It’s not something that makes me see red, like some people I know. But I have been living in Bali for a long time. I do not have a huge income, and day to day expenses have often been a struggle. At the doctor’s office we spoke only Indonesian, and my daughter even showed off some of her Balinese language skills. She explained that her father is Balinese, and told him about our neighborhood and her school.

He was very charming and friendly.

As we were getting ready to leave his office for the pharmacy, to get our prescription and settle our bill, I saw him make a notation on the prescription paper of “300,000” just before passing it to the nurse.

My heart fell a little. I knew he was putting a notation to the cashier to charge me “white people price,” approximately three to four times the amount a Balinese parent would pay. However, I was too shy to say anything. Me being shy about anything might come as a shock to some people, but he had been very polite thus far, and hadn’t actually said anything to me about the price.

To raise a ruckus then and there seemed to be a height of rude I wasn’t willing to scale.

The amount of money in question is hardly a bank breaker by American standards, but it is enough to discourage me from taking my little girl to the doctor’s office myself if The Illustrious Estranged could do it, and that makes me sad.

The Illustrious Estranged actually asked me to write this story down for his file, as he is now gathering material for writing projects of his own. He also advised me, though in different words of course, to “grow a pair,” and stand up to people when things like this occur.

Good advice, to be sure.

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