The man was well dressed and nervous. He was standing on my lawn blocked by barking dogs as I stepped out onto the verandah.
‘Down’ I signalled and both dogs dropped like stones to the ground and went quiet. Well Boo dropped like a leaf but his belly did meet the ground.The dogs both looked at me with their snouts still pointed at the man.
“Yes, I do mind actually,” I said. “We were taught as kids not to take candy from strangers so I see no reason why my dogs should.”
“It is not candy.” the man said helpfully. His car salesman teeth flashed white and pointy.
“No?” I said “What is it then?” His eyebrows shook at each other. “I am sorry I just don’t like strangers feeding my dogs. I hope you don’t mind.” I walked down the steps to meet him. My voice was getting Terribly British. It does when I am annoyed.
“Oh.” the man said, jamming his hand back into his pocket. I had the feeling he had already attempted to give them something, but Ton will never take a treat so this meant that Boo had scoffed the lot. Boo’s head went further down. I stood on the lawn and waited. The image of Ma Clampett and her shotgun running through my head. I was writing while I was making tomato basil jam. Everyone knows I don’t like to be bothered when I write.
“Well.”” he rallied. ” I was in the area and thought I would come and introduce myself.” He pulled a clipboard from the roof of his car and walked forward. Turning slightly so he could show me the page. Boo stretched and tasted his shoe as he passed. The man pointed to my husband’s name on a list.
“Is this you?” he said.
” No. ” I answered. I paused “That is my husband’s name.” I smiled nicely at him knowing full well that he expected me to supply him with my name now and not doing so was just a teensy bit entertaining.
The Big Dog limped around the corner and sniffed at the man’s flash car. The man reached out. Still full of fake bonhomie. “Don’t touch that one.” I said. “He bites.” The mans hand froze in mid air which made Boo think he wanted to play. He didn’t. His pale soft hand went to stroke his goatee, maybe to reassure himself that it had not slipped and gone crooked like his pretend smile. He returned his hand to the clip board. His nails were very clean, trimmed. Ton smiled and rolled onto his back. Boo watched Big Dog pee on the tire then disappear back into the garden.
The man was wearing tan trousers and some kind of sepia casual shirt. His brown shoes fastened with black laces. Divorced, I thought. Dressing country for the bumkins, I thought. What is he selling, I thought.
“Well, as I was saying I was in the area, we are offering folks a good rate this week on heart attack, and stroke insurance.”
“Pardon me?” I said. Surprised. Insurance? We sell health insurance door to door? I thought.
He launched into his patter about how we were some kind of percentage more likely to have hear attacks and strokes nowadays so they had very kindly created an insurance all of its own to cover this. The costs of care were in the thousands and every one needed this extra health insurance or they would go bankrupt.
“But I have health insurance”. I said. He continued with his pitch undeterred. He had to get it all out before he could think on his own, evidently.
” But I have my own health insurance.” I said again. “Would you like to see it?”
He stopped looking confused. Then started again. Our offer, etc etc, blah, blah. I watched Boo try to crawl on his belly across to Ton. “Down”. I said sharply. The man jumped, went silent, his head ducking. Clouds reached across and blocked the sun. It began to darken. He looked up.
“Here.” I said. My voice reaching clipped Kent level. “I will show you my health insurance policy. Come this way. You can put down your clip board.” I told him. “You won’t be needing that. Get in behind!” I called to the dogs. The dogs leapt up, tripping the man in their eagerness to get in behind before him.
He followed me across the lawn, and down the path. We were passed by the four guinea’s hot footing it past us going in the opposite direction. They LOVE black cars and his was extra shiny. City shiny. I did not tell him how much they loved extra shiny black cars, but I could see with a quick glance that Kupa the peacock was already there admiring himself in its reflection.
“Sheila!” I called as we walked, we came to a gate. “Sheila!” A large wet hog shaped rock lay sublime in the wallow hole next to the chook house. Daisy plodded across to see what was going on. ” My milk cow. And over there is a beast we are fattening for beef. You can see the chickens for eggs. Vegetable gardens.” I pointed. “You people have got the wrong end of the stick.” I said. “Health insurance should be all about health. You know what my insurance policy is?” I said to him. ” I exercise and eat well. Pretty simple really. I look after my body. I only put food and wine into it. No chemicals, no additives, no artificial ingredients. To rely on the likes of your company to keep me healthy would be silly wouldn’t it. I am in charge of my health.”
“Well, yes.” He said trying to get a handle on my angle. Marmalade cats began to twist around his legs.
“And you know that they make up the costs of hospital care. They are outrageous.” He nodded. He really could not argue with me on that one.
“You offer people permission to get sick. You tell them that’s Ok we will cover you.” I sighed.” Sheila! The mountain twitched. “I have an idea for you though. Offer a policy that includes people getting healthy for lower premiums. Then you could call it a healthy insurance. At the moment I think I would call it a rip off.”
“Sheila!” I called, the huge dirty rock in the corridor paddock twitched an ear. Hairy MacLairy stuck his vast head through the fence as Ton very gently laid a filthy toy on top of the mans clean shoes. Growling gently at Egoli, Don’t touch. The man looked at the dripping orange toy and moved his foot ever so slightly. Boo reached in, putting a filthy paw on one shoe and whipped the toy off the mans other shoe and the dogs and cats ran off in a tangled pursuit of each other.
“I know it is not for everyone but I prefer to focus on my health, rather than focus on a phantom illness that I have the power to avoid. Can you follow my logic?”
“I think so yes,” he said. “Yes. You are lucky.”
“Yup I am.” I said. “But you can be too. Only shop the outside of the supermarket. Just buy food. The best that you can and less of it. Put that in your policy.”
“Sheila come and say Hullo.” The rock stirred and rose up in slow motion, the mud sucking at her huge body with great messy slurps as she turned her head and looked over. She sat dripping with muck and looked for all the world like a monster. She snorted, snotty mud blowing – a filthy dragon. I am coming, she looked. Still sitting, she stacatto walked her short front legs around, slowly swinging her body in a three point turn, lifted her vast bottom up and proceeded to lumber across the field.
“This farm is my health insurance policy.” I said to the man.” I am in control of my health. If I fail it will be my fault. I haven’t been to a doctor in 25 years.” Sheila reached us and the salesman took a step back as she pushed her flappy ears through the gate for a scratch. Mud dripped off her nose in swathes. She backed up to have a good shake. Pigs shake like dogs. “Oh I’m sorry.” I said ,as little tiny dots of mud appeared on his clean creased trousers. He looked with dismay at his clothes as I wiped mud off my own face with my filthy hands. Oh dear.
He looked for a moment at the little dots of pig muck. Then he laughed out loud. Facades dropping from his face like relief.
“Do you want to see the piglets?” I said.
“Sure.” he said. “I think I like your health insurance.” He laughed again.
“Go quietly though it is nap time.”
I gave him a dozen fresh farm eggs and some tomatoes in a bag, with a couple of zuchinnis and told him to eat well and do me a favour and expunge my name from his list. It was never on there he threw back with a grin. “I know you have to work.” I said. “But I don’t believe in what they tell you to say.” I said.
Thunder rolled in and clapped its hands above our heads. I looked up. “But lightening insurance sounds like a good idea. Do they still call it an Act of God. Tell your boss he is looking at it upside down – if he keeps his clients healthy he will make more money. Money for the hospital is not what they need, they need good food and movement. Add gym memberships and child care and vege boxes and books and running clubs and real health food camps for kids to your policies. Has anyone ever thought of that? You would make millions. More millions.”
He scratched his head and climbed into his car. “Don’t forget your clipboard.” I said as I took it off the bonnet and handed it to him.
I shut the door gently on him. “Sorry about the peacock poo.” I said nodding towards the roof of his car. “Maybe it will rain on your way back to the city. I hope so. The hay paddocks love it! Oh and I am Cecilia by the way! Bye.”
“Get in.” I called to the dogs. And we turned our backs on heart attack and stroke insurance and went back inside.
Poor fellow. I am very sure I will never see him again. Do you think he will tell his boss my idea?
Yesterday my new (made in America) Excalibur dehydrator arrived so I must go and load it with apple slices again. Thank you so much for the idea!
Have lovely day.
your friend, celi.