Disclaimer. Contains a picture that some people might find disturbing. Forewarned is forearmed!
One of my workers comes into the sales office this morning. I’m sitting with my feet up staring into space waiting for the caffeine to start infusing itself into my system and halfheartedly stuffing a second ‘Vetkoek*’ into my mouth. He has this dirty bandage on his wrist. It briefly reminds me of a dressing one might find in a zombie apocalypse movie. I give him an arched eyebrow. ‘Bra Jo’ he says in greeting. He seems quite cheerful. ‘I wanted to ask you, do you think I need to go to the hospital?’
*a Vetkoek… is a South Africa institution. Its… well… its basically a big lump of dough that has been fried in oil (of questionable hygienic quality with a carcinogenic factor of 10x) in our case bought from a vendor at the side of the road. These are probably twice the size of a krispy kreme doughnut… and cost a whopping R2 each. Which at the current exchange rate is about $0.13 per serving of happiness. Friday is usually Vetkoek-friday and I sponsor breakfast for everyone…
I take another sip of coffee. ‘Why whats wrong with you I say?’ He unfurls the bandage and I suck air through clenched teeth. Ahhhh…
‘Yes’, I say after a brief moment of contemplation, ‘I think you should go to the hospital’. ‘What happened?’
Apparently he burnt himself on his paraffin stove this morning getting ready for work. He has no power at home. And like a lot South Africans uses paraffin for cooking, heating and maybe even illumination.
Of course this now spawns Joeys own personal ethical dilemma. (because this is all about me)
- I could say he got injured at work while on the job. This requires some paper work on my side and I have to fill out an Accident report plus some other forms. BUT then I can take him to a private hospital where he will get decent treatment and my insurance will foot the bill. Downside… well, I’d be committing fraud and there is always the slim possibility that I could be visited by the Department of Labor. Which… well… I’d obviously prefer this not to happen.
- OR I could drop him off at the public hospital nearby. This could go either way for him. If he’s lucky, after sitting in the waiting room (rife with multi-drug resistant TB and Hepatitis) for six hours he could potentially be seen by a final year medical student in which case he’ll get decent treatment and a clean dressing and maybe (if they have stock) some paracetamol to take home. Or… you know he could get Sepsis and die.
After some internal mental grappling (which gives me time to finish my coffee and take a picture) I eventually decide I don’t like him that much… and I’m about to drop him off at the public hospital…
‘Seriously, hold your arm up, if you get bloody pus on my seat you’re walking’
I end up taking him to my GP. Who… I think… actually kinda enjoyed doing something that wasn’t flu or prescribing blood pressure meds. Anyways, he gets a fancy dressing and some decent painkillers. Maybe even some antibiotics. I wasn’t really listening.
This feels like my good deed for the month.