“The Pre-Existents,” by scifiguy3553. Shakespir. Copyright @ 2017.
Like most Americans, Jaimie Manuel is mandated to get into the healthcare system. Jaimie is one of the awakened ones. He sees that it is now the Insurance Industry that has power over the citizens’ lives; not the State.
But he is not alone…
San Antonio, Texas; USA. Present Day…
“There it is,” Jaimie said out loud to himself as he rounded the dense, downtown city block and spotted the entryway of the building he was heading to. Since it was a mundane Wednesday afternoon, there was a fair amount of pedestrians strutting their way to lunch in their business-casual attire. Most either on their phone-devices or in a small group; chatting and laughing.
The medium-sized edifice was festooned with artistic, pendant-type flags that read “The Downtown Atrium.” Jaimie had worked at that very facility many years before when he was a teenager. The city of San Antonio had changed quite a bit since then, and so did the former telecommunications firm’s offices. After its bankruptcy during the Great Recession, The Atrium would replace it several years later. Which was why Jaimie was surprised, earlier yesterday, when he read the address to where he needed to go for his required health-screen. What in the world did a staid real estate facility have to do with his health-screening? He wondered about that even more as he passed a couple of real estate agents as they walked out from the lobby and onto the city block.
He still remembered the layout of the building, so Jaimie knew to take the escalator to the lower level. More empty spaces as he looked around the lower portion of the lobby from atop the escalator. The lower lobby was very square in structure and filled with unused floor-space. There were more potted plants in the lobby than there were people!
That is, until his escalator ride got closer and closer to the bottom of his ride…
There were no banners, signs, nor any other designation for the suite. Nor for what the purpose of the worksite was. The two large, glass doors were propped open and Jaimie could see several utilitarian chairs radiating out from a line of tables that had people stationed there. As Jaimie walked up to the tables, he was surprised to see so many other workers scurrying about as they worked with other ‘civilians.’ This was something Jaimie guested, given that the workers all wore some casual tan slacks and matching polo shirts—again, with no emblem nor any other means of identifying who these people were and what, exactly, was the business.
“Hi,” said a latter-middle-aged woman as Jaimie reached the table, “are you here for the screening?”
“Yeah,” he said as he took one more, quick look around the expansive, open-floor space. “Jaimie Manuel…actually, that’s with a ‘J.’ ”
“Oops, I see it now,” the affable worker said as she worked the touch-screen of the small computer. “I’m sure a lot of people spell it with an ‘H’ when you go through secured locations, don’t they?” Next to her, there was someone else arriving and started her process with another worker, just as Jaimie was.
As the worker continued to type a few nuggets of information, Jaimie saw the chance. “Say, ma’am…how long have you guys been here? I used to work here a few years ago, and I don’t remember seeing anything like this down here before. I mean, I know it’s the lower level, but usually you see traffic even from here!”
“Was it before it closed after the Recession?”
“Well, yeah…but I’ve passed this building all the time doing errands downtown for years.” Jaimie took another glance at the digs; which was sparse, like the rest of the facility. Yet, clean; efficient…almost like a –
“There you go, Jaimie,” the worker said; beaming at him as she pointed toward his next destination. “They’ll start the process at One for you!”
It took a mere few seconds to reach station One. A woman with gray hair—white, perhaps?—with a child in a baby stroller were already seated before Jaimie had gotten there. There were several other civilians much farther along in the process then even her, so he would have to go after the woman with the child.
Upon a closer look at the woman, Jaimie, furtively, noticed that the woman looked a bit younger in the face than what her hair had advertised. Otherwise, he assumed she was the child’s grandmother…perhaps not?
A couple of minutes later, another middle-ager joined in the seating section of station One. Jaimie looked around again. Between not only the workers, but the civilians as well, Jaimie was, by far, the youngest person in the entire suite! Aside from the toddler, of course. Mid-thirties are considered at the oldest range of being a Millennial, by popular culture standards. Jaimie was used to being one of the elders in his peer group at his job as an IT specialist in San Antonio. He felt a bit discomfort seeing so many older people. Worse yet, he felt guilty about it!
“Hi, I can see you over here, sir,” a friendly, yet professional, middle-aged man said to Jaimie finally.
Jaimie walked over to station One, the name-sake on a simple placard raised above so it was easily seen. The station had a few tables—similar to the ones at the sign-in section. There was a light-weight tarp separating the six different stations. There was a kind of improvised look to it, but maybe that was because the health-screening was for a required procedure for millions throughout the United States for a new system of governing healthcare. The facility, most likely, didn’t receive much money from the government and the workers had to quickly put together the screening…no doubt, Jaimie reasoned, this was going on all over America.
The middle-aged man swabbed one of Jaimie’s fingers with an alcohol wipe and then pricked it with a tiny device. The worker then collected the blood drop onto a plexiglass or glass-slide similar to what one would see in a lab for microscopes. Only, this was a bit more secured and was slid into a high-tech reading machine of some sort. Jaimie, then, noticed the male worker wait for whatever reading that came up, then slid the glass of Jaimie’s blood out of the machine and placed it into a container that was filled with a large load of others’ blood samples.
“Excuse me, sir,” Jaimie said as he half-stood from his chair; taking great notice in what the male worker was doing with his blood sample. “What’s that you’re doing with my sample?”
“Oh, we just do the basics—checking for cholesterol levels, any risks of diabetes, check for pathogens…”
Jaimie froze. “I know you guys have to screen us, but it’s not like we’re donating our blood! What do you guys do with the results and where do you send them? To our state human services lab, or do they go to those insurance companies?”
Of course, Jaimie was being sarcastic. There were many in the United States who were not happy with the high levels of influence that the insurance industry had in government policies. Especially those in Washington, D.C. But it seemed to take the male worker a few seconds longer than it should have to get Jaimie’s quip.
“They’ll take care of you at station Two,” the worker said through a forced-laugh. He had already started working with the next person behind Jaimie by the time Jaimie had walked off toward the second station.
At station Two, they checked citizens’ height and at the same time weighed everyone there. And because of that, the section was a bit secluded, should it get a bit uncomfortable for some citizens to publicly discuss their weight. But before they did, everyone had to take their shoes off. Sweaters or jackets and everything else was a choice for the civilian, on whether or not to remove them. The second station was moving along pretty fast until the other male worker told Jaimie that he could step off the scale and take a look at the height-indicator.
“Ugh, I couldn’t have already shrunk,” Jaimie lamented as he peered at the top of the notch of the scale. “I thought that’s supposed to happen when you get into your forties!”
The tiniest of a look from the other male worker. “What were you expecting your height to be?”
“Five-eleven…I think I used to be right at six-foot, but when I hurt my back years ago at one of my jobs, it caused my lower-spine to curve just slightly.”
Now that same worker had a bit of an alarmed look! Jaimie fought to clarify. “But I think that was just because of that job at the time…I was a janitor trying to move a very heavy table. It’s not like scoliosis or anything…”
The second male worker then took on a relieved face. Noticing this, Jaimie, ever the smart-ass, had to throw something his way.
“Why, is my insurance company worried I’ve been a pre-existing condition all this time and they didn’t know it?”
The worker froze for several seconds this time. Jaimie thought he was going to call security on him, but then this second male worker leaned in toward Jaimie. “Mr. Manuel, I really would watch saying that if I were you, sir…” The worker’s eyes then shifted toward the greater area of the suite, with all the civilians and enigmatic workers with all their khakis pants and polo shirts.
At first, Jaimie thought the worker was trying to play off of Jaimie’s terse remark. But after watching the middle-aged man for several seconds, it was clear to Jaimie that the required health-screen was a lot more to it than a simple actuarial procedure to collect data on their subjects—that is, the insurance industry’s customers.
“Look around you, Mr. Manuel,” this second male worker said to him; stepping closer and lowering his voice, “noticed how everyone in this room is at least fifty-years old? I’ve met a couple of older women—and I’m talking about in their forties or so, Mr. Manuel, that are mothers who have been rejected by every insurance provider in the nation…like with you, Mr. Manuel, because of the weighing area being cornered off for privacy, it’s allowed me to have the time to actually talk with the people.
“Those same women have high degrees from universities, Mr. Manuel. But because of them being women, and especially middle-aged women who’ve already had children a bit late in life due to their careers, they have now been weeded out of the system.”
The two men just looked at each other. There were two more people behind Jaimie, but this male worker obviously felt compelled to tell Jaimie what he knew!
“That’s what all this is about, Mr. Manuel…we’re sifting machines! We’re scattered all over America; cloaked as some program that’s facilitated by our state governments, but the levers and pullies are actually controlled by the insurance industry!”
Jaimie looked at this male worker for a while; thinking. “How do I know you’re telling the truth? More to the point, why the hell are you working here if—“
“I don’t, Mr. Manuel…I’m one of the civilians! I grew suspicious after I went through the process; just like you! I figured out how to get into their employment system, and, now, my mission is to spread the word…will you help me, Mr. Manuel? It’s not every day I run into one of the awakened!”
Jaimie, again, looked out at all the Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers troggling along in that system…that Sifting Machine!
“What did you need me to do?”
The male worker jutted his chin toward station Three. “Just finish the whole process…don’t let them catch on to us. Then, if you feel sure you can do this, ask to go online to the jobs-site so you can try for a job with them. That’s what I did.”
“You mean the jobs-site for the state of Texas,” Jaimie asked as he finished tying his shoes and stood up.
“No…the insurance company.”
- ISBN: 9781370142798
- Author: scifiguy3553
- Published: 2017-05-11 03:05:16
- Words: 2032