The medical profession has achieved a worrying level of efficiency in processing and delivering their accounts (in this country, at any rate). I once arrived home from a short visit to the hospital to find the bill already waiting for me in the post box. Conspiracy theorists have postulated that doctors have developed secret Star Trek transporter technology, but I prefer the ‘enslaved army of leprechauns’* explanation.
Why do I mention this? Well, the other day I received a bill from the doctor. Not exactly a ‘Stop The Presses!!!’ moment, but it was a bit unusual, because I thought it was one that had already been paid. I was a bit irked to see the words “NOW DUE” stamped across the page in bold red letters and underlined seventeen times with blue ballpoint ink. “PATIENT RESPONSIBLE FOR PAYMENT” had been also highlighted in neon green and circled twice for good measure – just in case I’d accidentally swallowed both my eyes and happened to be reading the damned thing through my stomach lining.
Anyway, upon closer scrutiny, it turned out that the medical aid had actually paid the account – just not all of it. The amount still owing was a staggering R10.98**. Oh, the guilt! How am I ever going to live with the knowledge that I have allowed the doctor’s children to starve? All I can do now is find a short sword and hope that painful death will be enough to restore my honour…
* It’s a lot more believable than the likelihood of the Post Office getting a letter across town in less than a week
** In United States money, that’s roughly the equivalent of a dollar and seventy-eight cents. It’s also roughly equivalent to the GDP of Zimbabwe, so I shouldn’t sneer TOO much