The next morning I made breakfast for the Nurse and me. The Nurse asked: Do you want somebody nice for the weekend?
Before I could say yes, the Nurse gave me a small pile of white clothes. Today you are the Nurse and I am the Doctor.
I put the clothes on, white tunic, white trousers, white shoes (How did she know my size?) and the Doctor explained in the car what I had to do. We drove to a building with a big sign “Job Exchange”, though under the word Job I could see the word Labour.
We marched into the building – the Doctor was looking for something. She found it, near the entrance, a seminar room and a small room without windows next to it.
I hung two big posters in the corridor:
“FREE MEDICAL EXAMINATION – anonymous – no names – no cost”
“FIT TO WORK? free medical examination – GET FIT TO WORK”
I was pleased that “wellness” was not on the posters. Soon people came into the room, I gave them a form to fill out, and took them one by one to the Doctor in the other room.
When I say a form to fill out, it was simple, no names, no words to write, just tick boxes and a few numbers. “your father/mother has/had diabetes/cancer/Psittacosis” Easy really. I helped some of people. “Oh, I've forgotten my glasses.” means “I can't read.” I had to be very polite.
On the back of the form was the recommendation “Please register with your local doctor, general practitioner or polyclinic; and have a checkup at least once a year. Please have your teeth and eyes checked by your dentist and eye doctor once a year.” There was space for the Doctor's results too.
We had lots of pamphlets too: “personal hygiene”, “varied diet”, “safer sex”, “politicians – how to remove them” and so on.
The Doctor examined each man or woman for about ten minutes. Very quick, though I know that she likes to take hours. I think that I would like to try examining, but only the women.
Then the Doctor sat down with them, no desk just two chairs, and told them what she had found. She wrote it on the back of the form too – perhaps one day or year she will finish examining me and tell me something, perhaps.
“You are healthy, but a bit run down. You need to get a job, get your self-respect back, and you will be back to normal. And don't forget to visit your doctor at least once a year.” That was the normal line.
But one had diabetes “Go to your doctor for a blood sugar test. And do it today!” One had multicoloured blotches on his shoulders, I saw the Doctor's mouth drop open for half a second. She examined him as usual and asked:
Do you work out-of-doors? Like sunbathing?
Oh, yes, I do like to be brown.
I want you to go to your doctor or skin specialist today! Right now!
No! Right now!
I asked the Doctor what was wrong with him.
Why didn't you tell him that? He would have gone straight to a skin doctor.
No! He would have gone and stood in front of the next bus!
The next one was a real nice looking girl, I mean, Nice Looking Young Lady. But the one after was a pain.
Why do I have to fill out this form?
Oh, you don't have to fill out the form, only if you want a free medical. I had to be very polite.
Why do I have to have a medical? Then? I mean, I have my rights!
It is your choice. I had to be very polite.
What's this form? I know you people. You're going to use my data and screw me, lose the data or sell it to a foreign company. I've seen it on TV.
Oh, no! The form is anonymous – no names. And you get to keep the form – no copies. I had to be very polite.
What's this then? A number – you've got me numbered. I'm on your database. I want to see the Doctor. I'm getting to the bottom of this.
He moved to the door to the examination room. The Doctor has to explain, and right now!
No! You can't enter. There is someone else in examination at the moment. A bit of privacy, please!
I blocked the way. I really did want to say that he was a pain and that I would have liked to examine him with a broken chair leg.
Please wait here and I will talk to the Doctor.
He wasn't happy, but he waited.
I entered the small room, the Nice Looking Young Lady was just putting her clothes back on, the Doctor had finished the examination.
This is the Nurse.
Nice to meet you, Nurse, said the Nice Looking Young Lady.
Nice to meet you, Nice Looking Young Lady, said I.
This Nice Looking Young Lady has unfortunately lost her job, lost her boyfriend, lost her self-respect and has no one for the weekend. I told her that you were free.
I picked up the Nice Looking Young Lady and carried her on my shoulder. The three of us left the building by another door.