Walk Down Misery Street

The dentist took x-rays and delivered his verdict: He needed to do a root canal and put in a crown. Yet the x-ray also discovered that the maxillary bone had started to decay. I would need surgery.

However, the medical aspect of the problem frightened me far less than the financial. As soon as the dentist announced the price, my tooth stopped aching immediately. But, alas, not for long.

We were provided with medical insurance at work, but it wasn’t very good, nor did it cover non-routine dental procedures.

Now, I sat in my tiny half-basement apartment, on the edge of the Capital of the World. I sat with my puffy left cheek, swallowing aspirin and sulkily calculating how much time it would take to save enough money to pay for the root canal, crown, and surgery.

What was good about Francesca was her unusual sense of fairness. None of our colleagues would be given an exception—all were exploited equally. She extracted as much as she could from everyone and paid us the minimum she could get away with. The staff grumbled and threatened to go elsewhere for better pay. But of the ten counselors who worked there, Bob was the only one who actually left.5

Oh, how dreadful it is to go to your boss for such an awful matter! Don’t bother them!

Don’t spoil their life! You know how their faces will sink and what kind of deathly gloom will appear in their eyes when you ask them for a raise. Who on Earth is less happy than they are at that moment?

I politely reminded Francesca about the conditions of my employment. When we signed the employment contract, we agreed to an annual review and subsequent raise. Since then, as I reminded her, almost two years had passed and it was time to discuss this very delicate issue.

Franchi stared at me, wobbling her head which sported a freshly styled haircut. Her dark violet blouse perfectly matched the color and design of her dark jacket. Her eyes were clouded by sincere sadness: