By Chana Jenny Weisberg
I’ve been a member of the same health fund for 22 years, and I’ve been very happy with it in almost every way. But this past Thursday, something happened that made me so furious that Josh and I seriously considered moving our business elsewhere.
For the last two months, I noticed that my family’s monthly charge from the health fund has more than doubled. So, I called up the health fund’s phone hotline to find out why. But when the woman on the hotline finally answered after half an hour on hold, she told me she could not give me this information, only my husband. What?!
I told her that I had received similar information regarding billing from the phone center on several occasions. What had changed all of a sudden?
“Your husband is the head of your family’s health-fund account; since the bank account we take the monthly charge from is under his name, so I can only give this information to him.”
“That’s not true. My husband and I have had a joint bank account for the last 20 years. And I have always handled all matters connected to the health fund.”
When the woman refused to budge, I asked to speak to her supervisor. But after 20 more minutes on hold for the supervisor, the woman told me that the supervisor was refusing to speak to me; she would only speak with my husband.
I am not the kind of person who usually screams at others, but, oh, did I scream at her!
When I got off the phone, I was shaking. It was so frustrating, to know that I was right, and that I had a valid complaint, but nobody was willing to listen to me. For hours afterward, I was upset about it; feeling so stuck. I sent a fax to my health fund’s complaint department, but who knew when they would respond, if ever.
And then I remembered a story from Henny Machlis’s biography, in which she shares a story she heard from her rabbi, Rabbi Usher Freund. Henny taught: Rav Usher’s four-year-old daughter had been eating chocolate yogurt and she had it all over her face and all over her blouse. He took her to the mirror. He asked her, ‘What do you see on that girl?’ His daughter replied, ‘That girl has chocolate all over her face and all over her blouse.’ Rav Usher asked her, ‘And how are we going to clean up that girl?’ She said, ‘I am going to wash my face, and I am going to clean my blouse. Then I will be clean, and that girl will be clean.’ And, Henny explained, what do we learn from that? If you ever see a fault in someone else, the fault is [probably] in you. The best way to clean up the other person is to clean up yourself.
And I thought of this story, and I thought of the woman I had screamed at. And within a few seconds, I completely understood. The woman at the phone center and her supervisor were unwilling to listen to my complaint, but I, too, am unwilling to listen to complaints – from my children. As soon as my kids start complaining about just about anything, I tune them out. I might nod and say “Ah-hah” as though I’m kind-of listening, but I’m totally not.
So, I decided to improve that aspect of my mothering, since I had learned on the phone that day what an utterly awful feeling it is to have a heartfelt complaint and to have it be ignored and belittled. And that is how I make my kids feel all too often.
Yesterday, I called my local health-fund branch and was able to fill out a form that would allow me to receive information on our account. It took me exactly 11 seconds, and the problem was thereby solved, lickety split.
Chana Jenny Weisberg, the creator of JewishMom.com, is a stay-home mother of 8 children living in Jerusalem with her husband, Rabbi Joshua Weisberg. Originally from Baltimore, Chana Jenny has devoted her non-mom time over the past decade to providing inspiration and encouragement for other Jewish moms through her popular books Expecting Miracles and One Baby Step at a Time.