Saturday, September 10, 2011

Tickets Please

I was invited for a blood test yesterday by our Kupat Holim (Medical Coverage Provider). A nice lady called me during the week and told me that it was time for me to have my cholesterol, blood pressure and BMI checked as part of their regular maintenance program.  I was told to come to the lab (on the second floor) on Friday any time between 9 and 10:30am. Oh, and I needed to fast for 10-12 hours before the test.

I arrived at the lab at exactly 8:58am only to find 5 or 6 people already sitting and waiting.  I went over to the number giving machine and swiped my card to be told that I could only get a number for an ultrasound.  So I went back to the lab waiting area and noticed a roll of paper numbers on a chair near the entrance.  So I took a number and sat down on the chair next to the roll.  Soon more people showed up.  Each person came into the lab waiting area, looked around, saw the growing crowd, walked out and tried to get a number from the usual automatic number giving machine. They would then come back in, look confused, and stand by the door. Clearly dazed after the 12 hour fast and lack of coffee. So I took the initiative and started handing out numbers.  Out of the blue Kate showed up, she had come to get a new card, but sadly the offices are closed on a Friday, so she sat down next to me and we started to take the whole issue of handing out numbers seriously.

People did not trust us. They would go back and forth between the automatic number giving machine in the lobby and the lab waiting room and ask again "are you sure these are the numbers for the lab?".  It was almost as if they thought I was giving out fake numbers, all the while selling the real numbers on the black market.  A lively conversation started up about the whole number issue and my unappreciated good Samaritan role and the general lack opf trust in today's society. Then my number came up and into the lab I went.

I dutifully informed the nice lady taking blood that the fact that there is no explanation associated with the roll of numbers laying on the chair by the door makes the natives very nervous.  She explained that on Fridays the central number assigning computer is not operational (obviously preparing for the Shabbat meal) and therefore there are no computerized numbers allocated.  She was quite proud of her ad-hoc solution of the paper number roll.  I suggested the addition of a simple sign explaining the situation would go far to improving moral and general dis-ease with the situation.

This story illustrates how far we in Israel have come.  Just a few years back there would be general mayhem, pushing and jostling for the place at the front of the queue which would be wedged shaped like rock music fans squeezing through tiny exits after a crowded show. Today we expect technology to provide answers.  We want automated numbers, unencumbered by preference or protectckia.  The people are not even happy with paper numbers - at least in Raanana they aren't.

No comments: