in which this writer asks “whattup with karma?”

So I was feeling quite pleased with myself before I went to bed, at the naive age of 46.  Forty-seven was going to be awesome!  I was going to make people happy! I would be crafty, and athletic, and doing all these little mitvahs, making the world a better place. This was going to be fun.

And the sun rose on day 1 of being 47, and after a steamy 5.2 mile run, I was off to the dentist.

And the office manager remarked how kind it was of me to take care of my work intern’s tooth, and that she’d put through the remaining charges this afternoon.

(here’s the backstory.  We have the most awesome of interns at my work.  And she makes squat for money, like most interns do. And way back in January, she showed up in my office, whiter than white, in so much pain from her tooth you could see it on her face.  I got her into my dentist and they discovered a cracked root and it was infected.  My dentist referred her to an oral surgeon for the emergency extraction.  This cost beaucoup bucks, which shellshocked this badly-insured intern.  Yes, she had insurance, but not very much. She will basically be paying off this surgery for the rest of her life. I called my dentist and offered to pay for the fake tooth she would be getting before she got her new implant/crown. It was about $250.)

When the office manager mentioned the “remaining” charges, I said “what remaining charges?” And she said, “oh for the implant and crown.  The intern’s insurance doesn’t cover any of that and it costs around $2500.  I’ll put the charges through this afternoon.”

Yep, an awesome start to a birthday.  $2500 in the hole.

I told explained the misunderstanding.  And I know she’s thinking how the hell are they going to get paid–there’s equipment and materials and staff time, etc. that they’re already  out of pocket on.  I told her I needed to talk with the Mister before I could authorize payment.

I’ll be perfectly honest here.  I was in tears the entire way back to work.  I can be generous with $250. I don’t have the wiggle-room for $2500.  Not with 3 Things, and college on the horizon, and camp to pay for next week, and groceries, and a newly hiked up property tax bill.

And then I was upset with myself, because this is part of those 47 things.  Grin and bear it. I have more access to capital than the intern.  I could make arrangements with my dentist and it would be taken care of…eventually. And a sooner eventually than the intern could make happen.

And this is about paying it forward.  I’m about to launch Thing 1 into the world, and there sure as hell better be some adult in his near future that steps up to the plate and goes to bat for him because he’s far from home and needs help.

And then I’m angry with myself for being stingy.  The Mister and I have been saving for our 20th wedding anniversary–we never took a honeymoon (too many out of town and out of country visitors to cut out on them) and we want to go to Europe next spring.  That savings could pay for this tooth. And we’ll see our 21st wedding anniversary.  What’s a year? (although then I’d have to get the Mister’s buy in on this new expense, as part of the savings belongs to him).

And then I started to get a bit pissy at this whole system of interns and insurances.  Our interns are worked hard.  In this case, our intern is paid and insured by the organization that places her with us.  Why don’t they offer these kids better insurance options?  This is an organization connected and affiliated with a major christian denomination.  The interns should get the same insurances that the clergy and laity are offered.  Why the hell aren’t they?

I still don’t know what to do.  This is not a burden the intern needs to shoulder.  But even though it would be less of a burden for me, it would still negatively impact my family.

All I can say is that if I end up forking over $2500 for the intern’s tooth, I’m counting that as mitvahs 1-47.   And I’m totally re-thinking what I’ll do when I turn 48. In 364 days. Which can’t come soon enough.


  1. Oh wow. That is a TON of $$$$. That you paid for the $250 is awesome and super generous. But … the next $2500? Why would they even have thought you were paying that? At least should they not have laid ALL of it out? Sheesh.

    I do not know what you will do. (I do not know what I would do either!) … but that you are even still thinking of paying this …WOW Paige.

    So … if you and the Mister decide this is not a burden you can take on …you HAVE TO TELL YOURSELF….do not feel bad ok. You should still feel good about helping out with what you can.


    Stupid misunderstanding. I am STILL wishing you a HAPPY BIRTHDAY

    *huuuugggss again*

  2. What a dilemma, poor you, I wish you luck with that but can offer no advice. That intern is very lucky whatever your decision.
    Happy 47th.

  3. Paige – that is a dilemma and I really admire you for being so generous in the first place, but $2500 is a BIG donation . Think the set up has taken advantage of you, albeit unintentionally, and wonder if you should try and contact the company that places the interns, or try and get some contribution from somewhere?
    Alternatively – move to Europe where we have a different system of healthcare ( although not for this kind of dental work probably ) , but that is a whole different story.
    On the upside – getting this grin and bear it news on day 1 of your 47 birthday means hopefully Karma will make all the other 46 better – if you get my drift 🙂

  4. Er, move to Europe, by all means, but not Ireland. At least, not for affordable healthcare! Though yes! for scenery, great food, lovely countryside, and generally friendly natives.
    Yep, you`re a fab woman to fork out €250. Surely the intern herself knows there`s a much bigger cost involved. And surely doesn`t expect you to pay it. I`m thinking of loans, her parents and yes, I know she works hard and for nothing but you`ve given her huge help as it is.
    Happy birthday to you! The thing about getting older is that we get smarter about figuring out stuff and knowing the stuff that really matters. You will figure a way around this. Enjoy your day!

  5. I’m still trying to understand what the 47 things are, but when I read this post, I know all too well the feeling when generosity gets me in over my head. Through my business, I tried to help a neighbor out on a tax bill so he wouldn’t lose his house, and unbeknownst to me it put me on the hook for $6,000 dollars that put me in a bind for a few months. In the year since, I have many times wished I had that money back, and am hopeful that karma will turn a kind eye my way come Powerball time. I try to tell myself its only money, but that isn’t the easiest pill to swallow sometimes.


    • The 47 Things are my attempt in my 47th year to learn, make and/or do 47 things new and different–not all mitzvahs, but also mundane stuff like learning to sew in a zipper. Basically it’s all about reaching beyond my comfort zone. It didn’t start off so well, but now that things have settled down (and the dental drama has been taken care of), I’m in finding my groove. I totally agree about the karma bit–and swallowing that money pill.

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