Saturday, October 15, 2005

The mortgage adviser said, ‘Just look at the three of us sitting here. Statistically one of us is going to develop some form of cancer by the time we are thirty five.’ and continued to play with his pen while nodding his head a few times with widened eyes for extra confirmation in case we had any doubts. I just did a silly smile and raised my eyebrows. I instantly regretted that as I did not want him to think that I was making fun of him.
‘Do you know anyone who has had cancer?’ he asked.
‘Yes I know a couple of people.’ I said.
‘What about you sir, do you know anyone who has developed cancer?’
‘Yes’ Said Kamyar, ‘a close friend of mine.’
‘Me too’ he said jubilantly (as if he had just worked out that we all went to the same kindergarten), ‘my aunt’ he added tapping himself on the chest excitedly I’m guessing to let us know that by ‘my aunt’ he meant his aunt and not some person called ‘Myaunt’. I did the smile and the eyebrow raise again.
He put both elbows on the desk and leaning forward rested his chin on his hands, smiling. He was clearly very pleased about this cancer bond between the three of us. ‘You see what I mean?’ he said, ‘Cancer is all around us, isn’t it?’ We nodded. He continued, ‘And it’s a horrible thing isn’t it?’ with a sort of everyone-else-lies-to-you-but-I’m-gonna-be-honest-and-just-come-out-and-say-that-cancer-is-no-walk-in-the-park attitude.
‘Now say one of you develops cancer. I’m sure you would both be devastated but with our bank’s ‘Critical illness Cover’ you can at least feel safe in the knowledge that your mortgage will be paid for.’
‘All of it?’ I asked.
‘Yes your entire mortgage will be paid off.’
I threw a sideways, not-a-bad-deal glance at Kamyar to see what his reaction was. He too seemed interested. ‘How much would that be monthly then?’ he asked. ‘Let me just calculate that for you.’ He said tapping numbers into his calculator. ‘Yes the critical illness cover for both of you will be a mere 64 pounds a month.’
‘64 pounds a month?!!’ Even ten pounds a month would have been too much for us. ‘That’s a bit steep isn’t it?’
‘Yes’ he said ‘but it’s a small price to pay.’ He drew a little imaginary triangle with his finger with each of us being at each corner of it, ‘One in three.’ He said leaning back in his chair with both hands raised up in front of his chest in an I-rest-my-case manner. ‘That’s all I’m saying.’


amanda kay said...

i don't understand people who traffic in fear. it's a side effect of capitalism, just like sexism. of course, i work for a company that sells 250,000 dollar cars, so i guess i don't have much room to talk philosophically there.

i think the fear here has nothing to do with your mortgage. it has to do with sickness or death and nothing really to do with your mortgage at all. maybe that's something to ponder (ps this is what life insurance is for). or better yet, if you can afford 5 extras pounds a month put it in the bank or even under your mattress instead of paying it to this guy,

i had the same thing happen to me once. someone tried to sell me that catastrophic insurance. i let the woman talk to me for a bit, and being the proud bearer of genetic coding that predisposes me to an early and sudden death (the most disturbing part of this is the fact that i paid thousands of dollars to get the testing that proved that this is the case), i listened patiently and much like your brilliant description here shirin, very pensively to the woman as she said in her pitch to sell me this 'the funny thing is, how many people say no to this, and then right afterwards, something will happen to them...' i then was overcome with a sickening creepy feeling that a human being would say something something like that, almost threateningly, to another human being, that it really put things in perspective, and made me realize that the desperation i felt about my potential fate was nothing compared to this woman (or your mortgage guy's) desperation to make a sale.

buying that insurance won't prevent any tragic thing from happening to you, and don't let them convince you that it will, and trust me, when you think about it, if god forbid something like cancer were to happen to you or kamyar, your mortgage being paid off would be a slight consolation indeed.

linda said...

Yeah probably when the cancer hit, god forbid, they will go like :" But we don't cover this type.. we only cover the type that is....."
Don't buy into those insurance schemes..

Negar said...

first of all, I love this piece. I love the details. I could see the guy trying to sell ME a Critical Illness Cover!
besides, that's just sick. I mean I know it might become handy when someone has a "critical illness" but it also might make people wish they had cancer or something when they're writing their mortgage check.

GazanKhan said...

We all must be real careful with these insurance guys and the contract that they put in front of us. most of the time after you paid them for some years, after you paid them the price of at least two,say, lung cancer and if you are lucky enough to get cancer at all and do it before your insurance expires, after all this, when you walk proudly into their office and put all the documents that confirm you've managed to get a deadly cancer at last , THEN, ofcourse only then, they show you that tiny short sentence among those tiny typing at the end of your contract, that you have never seen because they were simply invisible till now, anyhow, they give you a magnifying glass and point the setense to you with the a long needle, the article which says: We are joking of course. Who on earth's gonna pay for your hospital bills? You're just kiddin, don't you?!
Sorry Shirin, it wasn't suppose to become this long, it just ran out of hand, out of finger to be precise.

GazanKhan said...

By the way, it did it again after some time: asked for U.N. and P.W. I don't know why you say you have to do this every time?

Dr O2 said...

fantastic description... I had been studying math while in highschool but now I am a medicine guy & therefore can't be supporting statistics ;-) according to medicine & ok statistics also that's just the possibility. It might be 0 or maybe all there!! well it's like an unsaturable cinema where many or no one can get to buy tickets to watch it :-)

P.S: Don know how you've got to the point of describing me as you did on my blog but it is somewhat true!!! pretty scarey ;-)

Shirin said...

Hi AKg what that woman said to you about so many people going out of here and then catching some horrible disease and being miffed because they hadn’t got the insurance, is just hilarious. This is basically their tactic isn’t it? Scaring people into thinking now if I get censer I will not only have to deal with all the horrors of that, but have to spend all my time feeling like a right idiot too because instead of being a proud homeowner/cancer victim, I am now just a cancer victim whose home is about to be repossessed!

(Negar) Linda and Gazankhan you’re right. That is probably what happens at the end. This whole insurance thing was just hilarious. I keep remembering parts of it and it cracks me up. For example at one point Kamyar asked if this insurance would cover accidents as well that led to something really horrid happening to us. The guy thought about it for a while and then said, ‘Yes I suppose if the accident resulted in you having to have a leg or an arm amputated’ a little smile and you-win-again look, ‘why not?’ so Negar I guess that’s another thing that people can wish for when they write their mortgage check, leg amputation! Or arm! ;-) This could very easily be turned into a comedy sketch I think.

Hi Dr O2 thanks for visiting. :-) It’s funny with statistics isn’t it? as you said it doesn’t really mean anything and it can go up to the total extremes of Everyone or even No one at all. But the funny thing is that a lot of people actually take this very literary and so say if there are three friends and one of them gets cancer, the other two will feel a bit safer in the knowledge that they are allegedly out of harm’s way now! How weird is that? I’ve in fact heard a lot of people say this!

Dr O2 said...

well that is just true! people (including even me ;-)) take statistics seriously. It is sometimes hard to feel the untouchable things like statistics.

Nasser Shojania said...

Your insurence agent said a half-truth about cancer, which is twice a lie.

I know cancer and cancer knows me. I have been disgnosing it for 40 years, and I know the real chances of getting it. For example regarding smoking and Cancer it is said that if a man smokes 20 cigrarets per day for 20 years his chance of getting lung cancer is 14 times that of a man who never smoked a single cigraret. This is true. Such an association does exist between cigaret smokeing and developing lung cancer, but most people misundrestand this statistics to mean 14 per cent, that is from every 100 men who smoke 20 cigarets for 20 years 14 of them will get lung cancer. To undrestand this properly one has to remeber what is the chance of a nonsmoker man getting lung cancer, then multiply that by number 14. For example, if the insidence of non-smokers developing lung cancer is 1 per 10,000 (I don't have the exact incidence, but it won't be more than that)the chance of that smoking man getting lung cancer would be 14 per 10,000.

Also, let me tell you that cancers that are due to environmental factors such as pollution or smoking, are does related, that is the more you smoke the more you have the chance of getting it.

It is interesing to recall how they discovered this asociation between lung cncer and cigaret smoking:

In 1964 they gathered statistics about the number of lung cancers per year in developed countries and plotted them against the number of per capita cigraret consumption of that country 20 years earlier (Becasue cnacer takes time to develop). The curve showed a straight line indicating that every country that had a high per capita cigaret smoke had also more cancer of lung in it. Every country showed this positive correlation except the Great Britain. In G.B. the number of lung cancer was more than the number of per capita consumprion of cigrrets. To solve this puzzeling finding, they sent several men to New Yourk and London and asked them to collect numerous cigaret butts fallen on the sidewalks of those two cities. They noticed that not only the New York butts were mostly filtered cigarets, they were also much longer than the butts found in London. This confirmed that it is true that it is dose related becasue if the number of cigarets consumed in London were lower than thos in New Yort, the Londoners smoked more of each cigaret.

Another way to assertain that Cancer does not kill as many as the insurence men say is to remeber the deads in one's extended family and see how many of them died of cancer. Very few.

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