People I meet: Enrique.
This is a series of articles about the people I meet year in and year out. I travel—on average—twenty times a year and the most valuable thing I take, over the miles, the layovers, crappy hotels, faulty A/C and stale cookies, is the people.
I met Enrique in the U.S. in 2011 when I visited San Diego for training. He was a thick man with a bushy moustache, eyeglasses and gray hair. We instantly clicked as both us used sense of humor to cope with everyday life. The thing was, his everyday life was completely different from mine.
It was after meeting him that my perception of the medical industry changed.
Enrique had been working for IC Medical for fifteen years already. When the recession hit in 2008, IC Medical had to cut costs and it meant milking the living crap out of every single one of IC Medical’s tech minions, Enrique included. The manufacturing shifts—in which he was included—went from the normal 9 hours to a 13-hour permanent overtime shift. But the salaries didn’t proportionally. IC Medical claimed a lack of income as the sole reason.
Granted, it was a problem that hit all of the U.S. and the world. But, if it only had been that their lives were the same, with just a bit more work then there’d be no problem. But Enrique’s wasn’t.
His wife had suffered an accident, displacing three vertebrae on her back and, ironically, needed the equipment IC Medical sold to fix her condition.
Given that healthcare in the U.S. doesn’t use a socialist basis, Enrique could only afford certain hospitals. Hospitals, by the way, which were not willing to use IC Medical’s products to cure her, because the hospitals were “married” with other companies. Enrique was left with an alternative: either dig and burrow through his house for more money or turn to his employer for support.
So he turned to IC Medical. If his own company could pay for a hospital that did use the products, then his wife would make it. IC Medical didn’t even flinch. At the moment, providing the products for free was out of the question. I’m talking about two or three consumables and one machine: a cost of about 1000$.
So, as he told me this, whispering of course, I started thinking about all that I’ve done throughout the years. I’ve sold to doctors just because they want something cheaper, I’ve sold to doctors just because the brands I distribute are prestigious and I’ve sold to doctors just because their employers bought our brands. And in all three cases, I’ve wondered if they’d even flinch when I ask them for help.
Just like IC Medical with one of its own employees. A veteran nonetheless.
I kept in touch with Enrique after the training. I send him emails every once in a while and the most recent email I got was that his wife is now permanently disabled. IC Medical offered to pay for a percentage of the insurance required to have her home all day. But nothing else. Enrique is still being milked for every last drop of effort he can get. And I still sell IC Medical.
Why? Because I have to. Because Enrique has to. Or else, we f***ed.