Another official blue envelope arrived yesterday – that makes three this year! (To read about my husband’s run-ins with the criminal justice system in the past 10 months, check out “Framed” and “Blue Envelopes”.) Unfortunately, this time it was addressed to me and the sender was the District Courthouse. My mind immediately started racing – what have I done? Can’t be speeding (again) because that would be a police thing and come in a white envelope. Can’t be jury duty because I am not a citizen and that would be from the Provincial Courts. My residence permit is still valid and I got my tax returns in on time (and with two hours to spare!) so . . . is this about some doggie-do in my driveway that I forgot to remove? Did the mean neighbor lady make an anonymous complaint?
Believe it or not – that is allowed in this country. The first time I heard about it my jaw dropped. I would understand such a thing being possible if someone were, let’s say, whistle-blowing on the Mafia, but all the instances I have heard of so far were just petty neighbor disputes. “The leaves from his tree are falling on my lawn” – that sort of thing. My husband got an anonymous complaint lodged against him once when he went orienteering with students in the forest. The secret plaintiff said they were bothering the deer. Since it is a small town with a finite number of hunters, everyone knew within 10 minutes who had made the accusation. The police talked to my husband for 5 minutes and then dropped the case.
But back to my transgression. I stared at the unopened envelope and thought about all the rules I had bent or broken recently. I threw a glass of disgusting moldy jam in the regular trash unopened rather than washing it out and putting it in the recycling bin. I rescheduled my university course with the students directly rather than going through the main office. I lied about my smoking to a market researcher in a telephone interview. (Yes, I agree to do those sometimes.) I left my car unlocked everywhere I parked it despite the law saying I have to lock it (“subornation of theft”). I gave a school kid a Secret Santa gift that cost more than 1 Euro. . . . Boy! I bet if I gave it another 10 minutes I could probably come up with lots more examples. Whatever was in that envelope, I was probably guilty.
I ripped open the envelope and scanned the three pages of legalese gobbledygook. The bank transfer form included put my mind strangely at ease. To make a long story short, my health insurance provider wants its 150 Bucks and they are tired of asking me for it so they are bringing on the heavy artillery. It seems a few envelopes escaped my notice when I ordered all my mail and financial papers last month. I scoured the house, inspecting all the usual mail dumping spots and . . . sure enough . . . there it was. A small pile of mostly unopened advertisements that included three letters: the original bill, the polite first reminder, and the slightly ominous second reminder including a small penalty. The third and final indignant “we warned you!” reminder (including “court costs”) had arrived simultaneously with the blue envelope.
I hadn’t opened my mail. I was guilty.
But there is a silver lining.
The original bill from the insurance company wasn’t for co-payments – the fees have nothing to do with how often I go to a doctor or what treatments I have. They are just contribution adjustments based on my income. I know that because I didn’t see a doctor once in the whole time period of this bill – despite the fact that my insurance would have covered 100% of the costs.
I really should go to doctors more often.
I’ve been meaning to schedule a complete physical for a while – blood work, thyroid check-up, gynecologist, internist, dentist, the whole shebang. Now might be a good time for that.