Craig J. Cantoni
had been five years since Winston had been to the doctor. The last time was in January, 2009, the month
before the Stimulus Bill was passed.
Although he was doubled over in pain from whatever ailed
his digestive tract, Winston spent two hours standing on a packed public bus to
get to the doctor’s office. He could no
longer afford gas for his car, because gas was selling for $8 a gallon, due to
hyperinflation from the Stimulus Bill and to global warming restrictions on oil
drilling and production.
Strangely, as Party officials passed the bus in their
chauffeured Chevy Suburbans, the exhausted, resigned expressions on the faces of
his fellow passengers didn’t change. They showed no sign of anger at the brazen hypocrisy. Many still wore their Obama Hope & Change
buttons, like a drowning man refusing to take off a heavy overcoat that is
pulling him under the water.
line to the doctor’s office snaked down the hallway and out the door of the
office building, which, like most office buildings, was now owned by the
government and inhabited by Party apparatchiks and businesses controlled by the
Party. The formerly pristine building
had turned grimy and shabby, resembling buildings in East Germany
before the Berlin Wall had been torn down.
After a three-hour wait, Winston was finally shoved into
an examining room. “Take your clothes
off and sit here,” said the gruff nurse in the soiled scrubs as she pointed to a
blood-spattered examination table. Above
the table was a large poster of the new Health & Human Services
Commissar. The caption read, “Big
Brother is watching your doctor for your good.”
nurse turned on the wall-mounted telescreen on the way out of the examining
room. A smiling face of Tom Daschle
appeared on the screen. At that moment,
Dr. Weinstein walked in, carrying a stopwatch and wearing a Hope & Change
Dr. Weinstein,” Winston said as he simultaneously smiled and grimaced in
pain. “It’s been a long
Getting a blank stare in return, Winston continued: “Don’t you remember me? We used to be active together in the
don’t know what you’re talking about,” Dr. Weinstein stammered as he glanced up
at the telescreen, with fear spreading over his face. “Look, I’ve been allotted five minutes by the
National Coordinator of Health Information Technology to examine you, so stop
wasting time with small-talk.”
“What’s the National Coordinator of Health Information
Technology?” Winston asked.
that, the image of Tom Daschle began speaking from the telescreen. “The National Coordinator of Health
Information Technology was a provision put into the Stimulus Bill of 2009, based
on an idea of mine to improve medical outcomes and reduce healthcare costs by
taking judgment and the profit motive away from doctors. As with all doctors, Dr. Weinstein has to
follow strict procedures and protocols in order to protect your privacy and
health. Remember, eavesdropping ensures
privacy, and inflexibility ensures good care.”
minutes left,” said Dr. Weinstein as he looked at his stopwatch.
After Winston hurriedly described his symptoms, Dr.
Weinstein typed some information into the telescreen. A few seconds later, a bottle of medicine
wrapped in brown paper dropped from a pneumatic tube into a bin.
Looking at the telescreen, Dr. Weinstein s spoke loudly,
“It’s wonderful how efficient healthcare has become. No paperwork. No middlemen. No greedy pharmaceutical companies.” Handing the bottle to Winston, he said,
“Here, take a tablespoon of this once a day.”
the way home on the bus, Winston tore the paper wrapper off the bottle. The label read, “Soylent Green.”
author and columnist, Mr. Cantoni has been having severe abdominal pains from
ingesting too much hope and change. He
can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.