Saturday, December 30, 2006

December 29, 2006 - Becoming a Statistic

Today, riffling through a pile of accumulated mail, I come upon a terse letter from someone who works for the Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). It reads as follows:

"I am in receipt of your application for Optional Death Benefits. I regret to inform you that you do not meet the medical underwriting requirements and are, therefore, ineligible for participation in the program at this time. This decision was based on the information provided on your medical statement."

So, I've been rejected for supplementary term life insurance. I can't say I'm terribly surprised, but it is disappointing. I'd been hopeful that my in-remission status, combined with the power of the relatively healthy group that are my colleagues in ministry, could put me over the top.

Evidently, it was not to be. The medical underwriters took one look at the words "Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma" on my application, and concluded they don't like the odds of my living another ten or fifteen years.

I suppose that makes me, officially, a statistic.

Usually, when we hear that someone has "become a statistic," it means they've already bought the farm. The car's wrapped around the telephone pole, upping the county's annual death-by-auto total by one. It's an oddly dehumanizing negation of a life, that expression.

The teenage driver laid out in the casket in the funeral home is obviously so much more than a statistic. The teary-eyed family members – eager to reminisce, as though spinning tales would bring their loved one back to life – know that very well. Yet, to some anonymous actuary running his or her finger down a long column of numbers, that makes little difference. Do the numbers breathe? Do they laugh? Do they cry?

Oh, come on. They're just numbers...


Oh, well. I'll just have to prove the underwriters wrong, I guess.

(Just to spite them, of course...)

1 comment:

Rain said...

I'm sorry you felt treated like a statistic. I see in your profile that you like Young Frankenstein. I hope you own a copy, laugh and enjoy it.