The things we take for granted

Trailer for As Good As It Gets

I’d heard about the movie As Good as it Gets long before I ever saw it. Back then it was often cited in screenwriting classes as a good example of screenwriting. I don’t know if it still is. When I finally did see it, I enjoyed it. It’s a film about an obsessive-compulsive romance author (Melvin) who falls in love with Carol, a waitress at the café he goes to every day. He’s the type who has to sit at the same table every day, too, right down to glaring unpleasantly if someone is in his seat, until they move.

Carol has an ill son, and she spends a lot of time looking after the boy.

Even thought I enjoyed the movie, one thing I never understood was why she didn’t take him to a doctor and get him tested.

I mean, I knew in a subliminal way, that it was expensive going to the doctor or to a hospital in the US, and that health insurance is tied to many people’s jobs, but knowing that and realising the consequences can be two different things.

It wasn’t until the introduction of Obamacare—and its attempted dismantling by the current US government—and then the onset of COVID-19, when we started to hear lots and lots of stories about the impact lack of medical care has on US citizens, that I finally got it.

We take for granted that those of us who live in Western cultures have similar lifestyles. And we do, mostly. But we assume everything is the same when it’s not. Here in Australia Carol’s son would have undergone a battery of tests by now, and given she was on a low wage, it most likely wouldn’t have cost her much.

We judge others by our experiences, particularly when they seem to be exactly like us.

In many ways, this can be more of a problem than someone in a completely alien situation. The things we take for granted are often the things we understand the least.

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