An elderly lady smiled and gestured me to come in. As I followed, she remained silent, a sign that she spoke no English. If someone doesn’t know “hello” comprehension is generally poor.
“Portuguese.” she said. “Speak Spanish?”
When I shook my head, she took up her cell phone. The first number didn’t answer. The second, after a short conversation in Portuguese, proved unfruitful. She continued dialing. She was Brazilian, and most South American travelers have travel insurance. If I phone the insurance agency’s 800 number, someone will interpret. Unfortunately, my call hadn’t come from a travel insurer but a national housecall service, Expressdoc. When Expressdoc needs a housecall in Los Angeles, it calls me.
I could phone Expressdoc and ask for the agency’s number, but that makes them uncomfortable. I sympathize; housecalls is a viciously competitive business.
The lady finally found a multilingual friend, and we proceeded with the consultation, passing the phone back and forth. As usual, delivering medical care was the easiest part of the housecall. She had broken her glasses. She complained of a headache, but I suspected she wanted a doctor’s note so insurance would pay for a replacement.