Kafka’s Accident Insurance Ad by Rachel Miles


As Kafka actually worked in accident insurance, I wondered what it would be like if he was forced to do one of those tedious adverts on television. According to his friends, he was incapable of lying. So in my mind, it came out something like this:

KAFKA: (Shuffling about on his feet and not looking directly at the camera) Had an accident at work that’s not your fault? Here at the Worker’s Accident Insurance Institute, we stand up for your rights. Well, if you’re believed. Well… I say that, because sometimes people are brushed off… A little. If you come to me, up on the fourth floor, then, of course, I will help you. If I’m given the right file… because… sometimes, the files get a little mixed up. Just last week, I held in my hand a file for an elderly man with burns and standing in front of me was a young woman missing an arm. It just… (ahem) happens sometimes. However, of course, I will do my utmost to see that you get seen; I’ll believe you. But they sometimes don’t believe me, I mean… I can see many things wrong with a person, but they tell me I’m being a hypochondriac on their behalf. “I’m not a hypochondriac,” I say. “There are many things wrong with me and I can see those perfectly.”
So yes, we will make sure you see someone immediately. (Pauses) Initially. But not necessarily the right person. With the amount of corridors, rooms, and floors in the building, people are often sent to the wrong room. “We don’t do that here, go to room 104,” they say, but room 104 turns out to be the broom closet. Then the broom closet doesn’t give any advice, so you’re stuck wandering the corridors.
Then sometimes, if you’re actually given the time of day, you’re analysed by a group of doctors, who look over you like a piece of meat. You’re standing there – sometimes in the nude! – and every part of your body is talked about so as to ascertain whether you are actually injured, despite the fact you no longer have a left hand. Then, possibly, you get to the tribunal, where your case is spoken about – if you get past the week-long queues outside the room. Even when you wait day after day, at the end of each one you are sent away amongst all the others, and you leave like a bewildered herd. You are desperate for a look in your direction, anything that says you may be seen. All the while you and your family are starving because you can no longer work due to your injury, and your wife has been thinking about leaving you anyway but this just about settles it.
And, I sit in my office, unable to change anything in this vast and impenetrable bureaucracy, and some days I come to the conclusion that the only means of escape is insanity.
(Clears throat) So that name again… Is the Worker’s Accident Insurance Institute… for fairness and quick results.

Picture: bbc.co.uk

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