Thursday, July 8, 2010


I shouldn't have any problems with the Medical Examination.I'm in good health, no sickness, no accidents, no conditions, no allergies, don't smoke, don't drink, not depressive, fine hearing, all my limbs move correctly, all organs in their proper places, so on. Average height and weight. A bit myopic, but I already knew that. Nope, no problems at all.

If I could just schedule the damn thing.

Living in a country with no US Military Bases, I was referred to the US Embassy. I have to schedule the examination with an Embassy Physician, ask for help scheduling it with some other physician in this country's military base, or pay a private physician. In that order of preference. This country has no military, consequently, no military bases. The private physician is the absolute last option because this place already has an Embassy. There's no excuse for going somewhere else. What, is the Embassy not good enough for you?

It does have an Embassy. A singularly unresponsive one. Two phone calls and one e-mail later, and no human contact at all. Actually, they're probably busy. It is tourist season (no, you can't get a license to hunt them).

I left messages both times I called, although one time the machine told me I could press (some number) for assistance or hold and leave a message. I should have pressed, but since they speakthisfast and you have to dial NOW! Too late, please leave a message after the tone. BEEP. You're still wondering whether you should supersize that before you realize you're being recorded.

Also, the phone operators, who send you across this wide expanse of wires, putting you on hold often, don't listen so much to your explanation as much as they do to key words. I could just have said "Medical examination, medical review board, service academy application" and ended up at the same place instead of giving my whole explanation, because that's what they hear anyway.

I know this because as I was explaining all this to a person, the second I said the keyword: "Medical review board" I was transferred with nary a word from my listener. One second I was saying "... board to schedule an..." to actual flesh and blood and the next some cold, toneless voice was interrupting to tell me to leave a message while I tried to explain my plight. There's no telling where they'll send you, either, the first time I was welcomed to the Health Department (or something like that) and the next there was nothing at all. I can only assume the sent me to some abandoned phone in a cellar used to receive calls no one knows what to do with. No doubt it's checked periodically to make sure it can still take calls, but they remain there unheard, unattended, until they have to be erased to make room for more.

Really, though, it seems as though it all went into a black hole. I'll call again tomorrow, and if I don't get through to someone who can schedule that appointment, I'm going in person. Where no doubt I'll be placed in a small featureless room with piped music and eventually told to leave a message with the secretary.

Oh, bureaucracy.

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