Ugh. My Piper's in some kind of Customs quarantine, where he'll sit and rot for the next forty days (did you know, by the way, that the word "quarantine" comes from the Latin for "forty?"). They took him off the plane at LAX, claiming he had some kind of infectious tropical disease.
I had thought, at first, that the feds were just hassling us again (see "Stupid $@* No-Fly List", Dec. 2, 2005). But PePe called me from a pay phone it's like an old dormitory, where they've placed him, with a community coin-op telephone in the hallway and said he really does have typhoid fever. He says everyone in the facility is friendly. The food is good, they show second-run movies in the auditorium, and the medical care is more than adequate. Not a bit like Guantanamo, which is a relief.
Here's the thing, though: sitting in quarantine with typhoid fever really sucks, and this was an avoidable event. Phutatorius & Co. has contracted with Aetna to provide health care benefits to the staff, and you would think a stitch in time being worth a pound of cure, as they say that the coverage would extend to immunizations. But when PePe went down to the travel clinic before the trip to Papua New Guinea, they told him Aetna doesn't pay for the shots.
(You know what I think it is? They're cheap bastards, for sure. They're an insurance company. But it's more than that: they're based in like Texas or Oklahoma or something, and they just don't want anybody to leave the country. You know, because there's nothing worthwhile that's not in the U.S. of A. That's Aetna for you.)
So PePe had to go into the middle of the diseased South Pacific wilderness without any vaccines. Not on vacation, not for his own pleasure or broadening of experience: it was a trip for work. An assignment: he had no choice. And wouldn't you know it? Bam! Typhoid. Flared up on the plane. Something ugly, too, as I hear from Dead Eye, who rode home next to him. She was scared to death, scrubbing herself with Purell the whole time. Flayed off half her skin with that stuff.
Now there would be some justice here, if Aetna then had to pay for all the expensive treatments you need to get rid of frickin' typhoid. It might be worth PePe getting typhoid, to make the point to these jerks that they should it's better for everyone if they pay for prevention, rather than cure. But nooooooo. This one's on the federal government, because he's in quarantine.
And Aetna skates. The pricks.