April 2018

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Angels and Devils

When I got the flu my first year of teaching at a Dallas private school, my substitute was an older woman with a bee-hive hairdo and horn-rimmed glasses. She terrified my students.

Her first day subbing, she walked into the room and announced, "I am the demon of your worst nightmare." My students came to believe her.

This substitute taught at another time for an English teacher who was out for a semester. The demon, as she called herself, divided his students into angels and devils. The angels sat in seats closest to her and could hear her lessons when she whispered, so they got good grades. The devils sat in the back and didn't fare so well. Other students were in purgatory in the middle rows. They got Bs and Cs.

I have worked with three insurance companies this year (it's been a rough year), and, like the sub with her students, I was labeling the companies as angels and devils.

Our home and auto insurance are through Pemco, an angel. When I had to be cut out of my car and raced to the trauma center's emergency room last June, Pemco covered my costs and dealt with the other driver (and I presume his ambulance-chasing lawyer), who sued me (wrongly, I believe.)

When thieves broke into our home and stole a laptop and family jewelry, Pemco reimbursed us quickly. Agents were always kind and professional.

I thought my health insurance organization was an angel, too. Their doctors saved my life and communicate easily with one another. Billing and test results have been timely and accurate. Though they didn't provide medical massage when it seemed clear that I needed it, their halo was only slightly tarnished. Even angels aren't perfect.

I thought my disability insurance company was a devil. The representative I worked with when applying for part time leave didn't return calls and sent me threatening letters. I think he's the only person I've ever yelled at on the phone.

I was beginning to feel bullied by the next representative, with whom I'm working for full-time disability from my job in high schools. Though I filled out requested paperwork and signed forms for the hospital where I have my health insurance to release information, my representative kept calling me to say that the hospital was not releasing my records.

She threatened to evaluate my application for full-time disability without medical records (which is the same as saying that my application would be denied.) I suspected that the disabilty insurance company was trying to frustrate me so that I would give up on my application. I felt bullied.

Milton's story about Lucifer as a fallen angel, however, should remind me that most of us are neither full time angel nor full-time devil, but are a mix of heaven and hell. Even Lucifer, according to Milton, was once an angel.

My hospital seems to have some glitches in its system, so it turns out that my health care system isn't so angelic and the disability insurance company is not so demonic after all. The disability insurance representative initiated phone conversations between the two of them since I wasn't doing to well as the middle-woman. It seems now that neither the health insurance organization nor the disability insurance company are full-time angels or devils. They're tweeners.

Maybe each of us, maybe even our organizations and businesses, is part angel and part demon. Part saint and part sinner. "Created half to rise and half to fall" (that's Pope, the poet not the pope.) A tweener.

And me, I'm a tweener, too.

P.S. I like to write too much to spend the whole summer reposting old posts that folks liked, so I'm writing new posts most of the month and I'll repost once a month.


  1. "They're tweeners." Gotta love it, Mary. How you always find a way to strike balance is an inspiration to me. And your stick-to-it-iveness is amazing, as well.

  2. This is so true, we are all part angel and part devil. Good days are when the angel's voice speaks the loudest.

  3. I'm relating to this post really well right now, as my inner demon is trying to take over. I think it's winning. I'm not kidding, either.

  4. I am relating to this post REALLY WELL right now, as my inner demon has apparently staged a take-over! I'm not kidding. It's not fun to deal with the demon in yourself.

  5. I can't believe you blew this perfect opportunity to use the word "agathokakological" -- what a shame!!


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