Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ten Magic Digits

We have finally received our personal numbers. Well, I shouldn't say finally because there is always a chance it couldn't have happened at all and when it did it was supposed to take 6-8 weeks--we have gotten ours in a record three.

So, we are now residents. Supposedly I can now operate with ease. I can now open bank accounts, get library cards, movie store memberships, go to the doctor and whatever else requiring the number. Actually, we've already done the above without too much hassle. Except getting the movie store membership. That was a little dicey.

The first movie rental store turned us down. We asked if they could keep our credit card on file. Nope, gotta have the personnumber. Maybe my thinking is a little off base but doesn't a personal number really just tell you I'd have a really large chance of really only being a liability and a credit card, at least, give you something to bill against if I never show back up to return the merchandise? But, hey, why let logic interfere with policy?

So, we shuffled off to the next video store where they gave us a membership, no problem. The bank wasn't too much of an issue either. Sweden is big on having people physically go places and give their assurances that you are who you claim to be and are an all around OK guy. Basically, that was what we had to do in that instance.

The library was a piece of cake. The librarian was extremely helpful. Again another instance of Swedish graciousness to annoying foreigners. The German's would never have given me a library card. Then again the German's would never have personnummers for reasons that are obvious.

I am very interested in actually using the medical system so I can give a first hand assessment. I have found out, though, that contrary to popular opinion doctor's visits are not free. What? All this time I have been told, it is free, free, free. Turns out there is a co-pay of anywhere from about $15-$25. Turns out too, a lot of stuff isn't covered and a lot of stuff is billed to the employer rather than the state. Gets more interesting, the more I find out.

I did use the German medical system and I was quite pleased with it but I was a private payer. My son was born there. What was nice was that my doctor had an ultrasound in his office and for the first four months he gave me an ultrasound included in my $50 co-pay. I think an ultrasound on the states would cost you at least $1500. I had about six of them.

In the hospital, when my son was born, because I was private pay, I had a huge double room all to myself. I almost felt bad that the German women were cramped 3 to a room while I had a this huge double room. Almost. But, that's what private paying will buy you and what the state will buy you. My Russian nurse kept telling me 'Erste klasse", meaning I had first class accommodations.

I got the distinct impression she didn't like me because of the room. Leftover baggage from the Soviet era was my guess. It didn't help our relationship along when she asked me if I liked Germany or the United States better and I promptly, without the slightest bit of hesitation, answered the United States. She cooled considerably after that.

Let's face it after six long days, we were working on a relationship of sorts. I do not know when, if ever, they planned to discharge me. I finally had to had to call in my husband and have him demand to have me be let out of there.

Back to my personnummer, if I only had a real, paying job, I could break a nail and collect some sort of worker's compensation for 12 weeks at 100% pay and another 27 weeks at 80% pay. Ok, those are not the real numbers but I'd bet they are close.

Actually, the excuse du jour is stress. Writing this blog does carry with it a fair amount of stress. The deadlines are tough.

There is some sort of starving artist state subsidy I could qualify for. (for a moment I ask you to dismiss the fact that the 80s are way over) Recently a heavy metal band member claimed that his heavy metal lifestyle was causing him to miss work to go to his gigs. He argued this was causing him to lose jobs and he HAD to rely on welfare handouts.

He won some sort of income supplement. I am thinking, writing this blog could possibly be construed a creating art. I am so entrenched in the internet/blog lifestyle it is causing me problems actually finding work? Yeah?

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