My son doesn’t get very much mail, partly because he doesn’t write a lot of letters and partly because he’s 3. So I found it odd a few months ago when he received an envelope from the Insurance Company, addressed to him, a child who not only can’t read his last name but also has never heard of the Insurance Company. That’s one reason I’m super-envious of him. (Reason No. 2: Daily naps. Reason No. 3: Being able to eat squeezable applesauce without everyone else on the plane looking at you.)

The letter confused me, and I spent some time mulling it while I sipped my applesauce. First, it seemed unlikely that the Insurance Company didn’t know whom they were addressing. I don’t know much about insurance companies, joyfully, but I’m pretty sure that in the vast store of knowledge they’ve amassed about my family’s medical history, Social Security information, genetic markers, pre-existing medical conditions and Singulair orders there’s probably a little box marked “age.” And in that category there’s probably a littler box marked “0-5,” or at least a Juniors division. This organization is largely responsible for deciding which medications my child can and can’t ingest, so I can’t understand how no one’s written code that can prevent them from addressing someone who’s batting about .400 on the whole pee-pee in the potty thing.

The letter concerned a broken arm my son sustained on the school playground several months prior, an episode involving monkey bars and gravity. Nobody actually saw him fall, which was a little off-putting, but, in an effort to keep perspective I attributed that to the fact that playgrounds are full of children climbing on bad ideas. He got X-rays, he got a cast, he got some ice cream. The bills came, and we paid them. And he’s spent the months since investigating other playground equipment from which he could plummet (it’s early, but a current favorite seems to be that big metal slide).

The letter actually didn’t come until months after the incident. It addressed my son as “Mr.” — again, this particular Mister recently came into possession of a stuffed kitten he named Taco — before asking him to fill out a questionnaire to help determine whether the treatment he received was the result of an injury or accident for which someone else may have been responsible.

This confused me too, so I backed up. First, it’s a broken arm, and I’m pretty sure the Insurance Company had access to that information. So yes, that’s an injury. Second, and I don’t mean to be presumptuous, but if I didn’t know what genial, trustworthy organizations insurance companies were I’d suspect they were seeing if they could get out of paying for my kid’s purple cast somehow?

I had my doubts, but the letter was not addressed to me. So in the interest of fairness, I read it to my son over dinner (during which he ate 20 pieces of bacon; one day I’ll be dealing with the Insurance Company about his cholesterol meds). And to be honest, he was exceedingly unhelpful, and answered most of the questions by opening his mouth wide to show off some chewed-up bacon, a response I generally took as a “no.” (He also spilled chocolate milk on it.) But thanks to the questions, I did manage to determine that: 1. He is not a sole proprietor, 2. He was not driving at the time and 3. He hasn’t hired an attorney (which is good, as we can’t afford one unless we sell Taco).

But once dinner was over, I found myself at a loss. I was unsure what to do with the letter, other than think of ways to broadcast its implicit commentary on about 6,000 things wrong with America. So while I cleaned up, I left the letter on the counter, where my son grabbed it and, with a red marker, scribbled all over it, leaving a severe-looking and totally intractable mess, one I plan to mail back to the Insurance Company first thing tomorrow.

You can find Jeff Vrabel, a writer, @jeffvrabel and on jeffvrabel.com.

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