Freeze. Panic. Lie.
When confronted with a situation where telling the truth will hurt or simply embarrass me, it's what I do. The good news is, my conscience hardly ever allows it to continue and I have to come clean immediately. Which is how I accidentally almost committed fraud against the State of Minnesota a couple of weeks ago.
You see, I got this great idea after filing my taxes and seeing that my adjusted gross income for 2011 was only $4040: I decided to take advantage of any low-income Doctor's visit benefits I could since I haven't had any checkups since I was working with health insurance benefits a few years back. I googled "minnesota sliding scale gynecology" and found Planned Parenthood. I called and explained that I had no health insurance and they told me to bring my last year's tax return. They made me feel at ease when they said most women pay nothing for their checkup.
The next paragraph serves only to set you up for the reason I told a big lie to the State of Minnesota:
In real life, my business is mortgage, where I calculate people's income all day long and I always always always use the most conservative approach. So, if I were applying for a mortgage, I wouldn't use my current income because there is no guarantee that it will continue. In fact, I would need to be on my job for a minimum of six months before I would even be able to consider that income. A two-year average over 2011 and 2010 would give a better picture of my actual income, however since I no longer hold any of those jobs, I would have to use a big. fat. zero. and I wouldn't qualify. Isn't my job interesting? ha!
I brought my tax return and my "zero-income mentality" into Planned Parenthood where I was asked straight out, "Are you currently working?"
I didn't expect this question. But I knew where she was going. In that split second, I had a crisis of conscience. Why should I be penalized and miss out on free health care just because I DO currently have a very temporary, very medium-paying job? Don't they know that any money I make in the next three months is going to have to last me for the next twelve? Don't they know I am a vagabond by choice and I don't want to spend my money on Doctors and groceries and car tire repair because I'd rather be padding my savings account for my next great adventure? Don't they know I used to responsible and trustworthy and employed and paid taxes for a good decade which probably covered hundreds of exams for the less fortunate?
What did I do? I froze. I panicked. I lied.
"NO!" I said, nervously, shaking. As the word escaped my mouth, I immediately felt my cheeks flush. Lying is bad! And of course it just snowballed from there as she made me FILL OUT A FORM stating that I had $0 income. I tried to make it better by averaging $4040 over 12 months which is exactly how I would have calculated my income at work. I told myself I wasn't lying, and that I knew better how to calculate income than the State of Minnesota Department of Health. But I also knew I was lying. Making it right would mean coming clean to the receptionist by admitting to her face that I had lied. I couldn't do it. I signed the form with the fraudulent information and went back to the exam room, stripped down, put my legs in the stirrups and talked to my Maker about what I had just done and how I was going to make it right. FYI I'm pretty sure it was He who made me have to fart at the exact moment the Nurse Practitioner was taking her look-see.
With legs spreadeagle, I decided the best way to make the whole thing go away would be to go back out to the front and tell them that although I wasn't working (lie) I had money in savings (true) and that I could afford to pay for the visit (true) so could we just forget the whole form? I certainly wouldn't want to burden the poor taxpayers in Minnesota with my gynecological needs (lie).
So that's what I did.
For the second time the receptionist totally blindsided me by saying, "well if it's all the same to you, we'd rather get the funding because it's better for us. But if you have money and would like to make a donation for somebody else who can't afford it, we'd be glad to accept it."
My jaw dropped to the floor as I left my body, hovered above and watched myself NOT tell her the truth. We continued the check-out process and I hoped she'd forget about the donation bit, but of course she didn't. "Would you like to put your donation on your VISA?"
"Yes." I said, and donated $50. For my penance.
I drove out of the lot and called Summer. She could barely understand me as I wailed, "I'm going to prison!"
She told me not to panic and to call the Department of Health to withdraw my application in a few days, explain myself and then at least I wouldn't have to worry about the face-to-face aspect that made it so impossible for me to just admit the truth.
Which is what I did.
What did this ridiculous lie cost me? $280 for the doctor's visit, $50 for a donation I didn't really care to make, the squeezing to prevent the fart (which I'm hoping she took as timidity), 20 minutes hold time with the Minnesota Department of Health and some further embarrassment when a bill from Planned Parenthood will shortly arrive in the mail at the O'Connell's. Addressed to me.