Last winter, I was referred to a specialist, a gynecologist, whose office is located at Sherbrooke’s CHUS (Centre hospitalier universitaire de Sherbrooke). The day I went for my appointment was a very cold winter day.
I located the building. It is in Fleurimont, somewhat outside Sherbrooke. It took me a long time to find a parking area that was not reserved for the staff and lanes that were not reserved for buses. Well, I thought, I’m not a royal, so there is no protocol. I made believe my little car was a bus. There was no other way out.
I drove around and found a parking lot the public could use. There was only one space left. I parked the car and walked towards the building.
The CHUS is a large building with a huge lobby, but the lobby was crowded. Several rows of patients were queuing to get to the machines where one pays one’s parking fee. These were new machines and queuing were seniors some of whom had never used a cell phone. They couldn’t pay the parking fee without help.
Suddenly, I remembered my mother. Had she been queuing and attempting to pay the fee by herself, she would have collapsed. I started to cry. What were they doing to my mother? These people had to see a doctor, or a resident, and some had to undergo an invasive test or painful treatment. But however miserable their condition, they had to pay the parking fee.
We’re cattle, I thought, just cattle!
I was lucky. A young man noticed me. When my turn came to pay, he helped me. But I struggled to find my credit card while attempting not to lose my keys. A silver bracelet I had worn every day since 1969 slipped off my arm without my noticing. It’s gone. I thanked the young man who had helped me. He had been a good Samaritan. He rushed away and could not help the gentleman standing behind me.
Let us skip a few episodes…
We are now outdoors and I am looking for my car. Because I had driven in circles, I was disoriented. The car was parked near the entrance, but I could not find it. Fearing I would lose my frozen fingers, I returned to the building and told a gentleman, a policeman I believe, that I could not locate my car.
I gave him my licence plate number and car keys and he returned within minutes, driving my car. I hugged him. He smiled and helped me get into the car. Another good Samaritan. Would that I had remembered to ask him in which direction I would have to turn to go back to Sherbrooke.
There were no signs pointing to Sherbrooke, so I turned in the wrong direction and started driving away from Sherbrooke, in a blinding snow storm. Don’t ask me how I managed to turn around, but I turned around.
By the time I reached home, I was frazzled. It occurred to me that I had spent too many years on planet Earth. I then looked at my cat. Belaud is a beautiful and loving animal and I have promised to look after him forever.
In short, I am telling you that Quebec’s healthcare system is deteriorating.
Quebecers pay higher taxes than other Canadians and I am told that the province is prosperous. Well, it may be prosperous, but at a cost I didn’t like. I had seen several rows of intimidated human beings lined up to pay a parking fee using a silly machine. I am told that the city collects the money and then gives it to a Foundation.
There is nothing wrong with raising money, but, for the most part, the people I saw in long queues were elderly citizens and patients. Some may never have used a cell phone and some are probably living on a tiny pension: $19 000 a year, maybe less.
A few weeks ago, when my memory was tested, I had to deal with the parking fee machine. I could not go through that routine again. So I walked past the machine without making an attempt to pay. When I returned to the car, there was a piece of paper behind a windshield wiper. I had to pay a small fine, which, I supposed, had transformed me into a bit of a criminal.
I dialled the telephone number I saw on the piece of paper and asked to which address I should forward my cheque.
They thought I wanted to protest. I didn’t, because it would have been unpleasant, but I needed an address. They were delighted, which surprised me. The parking fee, they said, is a lower amount of money than the fine. I had therefore contributed more money to the Foundation than people who used the machine and paid the parking fee.
They thanked me.
Love to everyone ♥
© Micheline Walker
12 July 2018