What is the value of a l(w)ife?
An acquaintance went to a life insurance salesman and requested a policy with an $800,000 payout to her family in case of her untimely death. To gage her insurability, the examiner asked a few routine questions:
"How old are you?"
"How many children?"
"How would you rate your health?"
"Mental or physical?"
"Physically, excellent. My mental health fluctuates, depending on the situation and the day, but I'm not dangerous to myself or others. I sometimes raise my voice and flail my arms, that's all."
The insurance salesman nodded his head, made a check mark at certifiably crazy and forged ahead, "Your occupation?"
"Housewife and full-time mom."
He erased the check mark next to certifiably crazy and put it next to mentally challenged. Then he said, "Ma'am, you don't need a policy this big."
"Yes, I do," Christie insisted. "No Ma'am, you don't. Only people who add value to a family need life insurance in this amount."
Christie sat there, stunned. She could feel her chest flushing and red splotches spreading up her neck to her cheeks. Flustered, she got up to leave, but stopped. She turned around to face the guy, now shuffling papers on his desk. "Let me tell you my value," she said.
Before he could protest, she began: "My work day starts at 5:30 a.m. I crack eggs and make coffee. In my head, I keep track of which child eats his bagel with jelly and no butter, which has a bagel with butter and no jelly, who likes it with cream cheese and grape, but not apple, jam, and who wants one with peanut butter on the side.
"I scramble the eggs not too soft and not too hard with three pieces of cheese in half the eggs and one piece in the other half.
"I put my John Hancock on folders, notes, papers and planners for my school-age children, prepare individualized lunches, stuff backpacks and hustle everyone out to the car. After dropping two children off at elementary school, I return home to dress the others.
"Then I get back in the car and take the preschooler to his class, drive home again and change the youngest's diaper.
"Four loads of clothes, eight puzzles, 40 toddler's questions and two clean bathrooms later, it's noon and I retrieve the four-year-old. We return home, where I make more child-specific lunches, eat three potato chips myself and put the kids down for a nap.
"I do additional laundry, clean the kitchen, mop the floor, plan a menu, write a grocery list and make dentist appointments. Then I juggle money, pay bills and wake up pit vipers from deep sleep so I can get the other two from school.
"We go to the post office, the drycleaners' and the grocery store. I haul four children in and out of the car, shopping carts and display racks. Back at home, I unload the car, put the groceries away, supervise homework, break up fights, and concoct a meal in which no two single food items touch each other."
Here, Christie inhaled, preparing to continue her rant.
Mr. Insurance Man saw his opening, "Your husband is a very lucky man to have a wife who takes such good care of him."
"Oh," said Christie, "Would you like to know what I do for my husband?"
Not wanting to go there, the man granted my friend her insurance policy. He also erased the check mark next to mentally challenged and put it next to thinks outside the box.
(Lucy Adams is a syndicated columnist, freelance writer, and the author of If Mama Don't Laugh, It Ain't Funny. She lives in Thomson. Lucy invites readers to e-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and to visit her web site, www.IfMama.com.)