How many licks does it take?

It’s 5 a.m. Monday and there I am in the emergency room, busted beak and all, left with just the dull, aching pain in the center of my head, the dubious distraction of my own forced alliteration and nothing else to console myself but this single question: Which is harder to navigate, the criminal justice system or the U.S. healthcare system?

I am also instantly reminded of that old TV commercial about the animated owl that’s trying to figure out how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. If there were any justice in this world, that thieving owl would have busted his own beak biting down on the poor kid’s lollipop he stole for his sick little experiment.

It could just be that I sustained a pretty good blow to the head—actually two of them. Without getting into too many unnecessary details here, let’s just say that some borderline-psychopath whose mere existence upon this planet disgraces not only his family but is an insult to the broad concept of motherhood in general, attacked your narrator this past weekend at a sporting event. It seems he, the aforementioned piece of garbage, had taken exception with my asking him to quiet down after the better part of three hours of spit-screaming into the back of my wife’s neck.

That had to be it I guess—either that or when I told him that he didn’t scare me. I can’t be sure, you see, because it was about 10 seconds later, with my my back to him, that he decided to channel the inner coward his father clearly raised him to be and sucker-punched me, not once but twice, before running off into the night.

I say all this quite freely for a couple of reasons. First, I believe that cowards can’t hide and shouldn’t be allowed to—not even from themselves—and the police currently are looking for this loser. Second, it gave me the opportunity to distract myself with a simple sociological experiment that is actually extremely relevant in today’s world. Given the amount of violence at sporting events in America—not in the field so much as in the stands, a problem Europe has been battling unsuccessfully for decades now—and the present state of health care here in the United States, which is easier to navigate for the average person, justice or health care?

I will find out in the coming days, I am sure. But my money is on the cops. You see, by the time you read this, they may have been able to arrest this piece of garbage. With today’s sophisticated surveillance technology, you can’t reasonably believe that you can just commit Class-A felony assault and battery and vanish into the ether in a stadium filled with 60,000 people. They’ve got cameras set up everywhere.

Also, as I understand it from his idiot tirade, the coward that hit me and ran is a season ticket holder; the seats have been in his family for more than 25 years. This weekend, when he is arrested at halftime, will be the last time he or his family will ever sit there.

On the other hand, I am not so sure that I will have heard back from my doctor’s office as to whether my insurance will authorize a CT scan that has been prescribed for me. They never did X-ray my head. And while it is unlikely, it is still possible that my injuries extend beyond my busted beak.

Luckily, from what I understand, my life insurance pays out a lot quicker—just in case it takes a while to get that authorization. After all, there are other patient authorizations ahead of me, as the nice, gum-cracking secretary has reminded me every day this week when I have called to find out when my CT scan appointment would be.

Still, it likely will be a bit longer before I find out for sure which is easier to navigate, the justice system or health care in America. In defense of pharmacy, this has been the only easy part of the process. I have needed three different prescriptions since all of this nonsense started. The only thing I can be certain of through all of this is that I can get in and out of my local drug store with the medications I need, at the copay I expect to pay, in 15 minutes or less.

The irony is that the one piece of American health care that seems to be working correctly is community pharmacy, despite the many attempts by various special-interest groups in this country who would seek to blacken the eye of the profession and rob it of its role in delivering patient care. If pharmacy moved at the speed of the rest of the healthcare system; if it were not right there in the community, where it is easily accessible to those who need it, I would be in awful pain right now and I likely would be battling a pretty nasty infection.

So how many licks does it take to get to the center of what’s wrong with health care in America? I don’t know, but I sure hope that guy who hit me gets his own beak busted one day soon and has to find out for himself.

If he does, make sure it takes him just a little bit longer to get his meds. I’ll owe you one.