Before I came over to Paris, several people told me to expect tons of paperwork and bureaucracy. They didn’t lie. This will be my fourth week here, and, each week, I am getting contacted by someone to do something for someone else.
This morning I had an appointment at the medical controller’s office. I essentially had to be screened to ensure I don’t have TB and am otherwise healthy enough to be employed in France.
When I arrived for my 8:30 appointment, I thought it was going to be a proper doctor’s office. Instead I joined a sea of other immigrants (strange, I am an immigrant now), waiting outside the building. At 8:30 on the nose, the door was unlocked and we were all herded under the sad florescent lighting, through the sad, linoleum hallways that are universal fixtures at government offices. Then it was a lot of sitting around, waiting.
It was probably about 9 o’clock before the doctors arrived. The first check-in was just your basic height and weight recording and eye exam. But it was classic: I was wearing my tall boots, which did not come off for either the height or weight measurement. The doctor just looked down and eyeballed how tall the heel was. The eye exam was equally quick and sloppy. I wore my glasses.
More waiting, and then a chest x-ray. As I waited, I had the opportunity to familiarize myself with my Blackberry, which was a good thing since I never received any sort of manual or explanation to go with it. I discovered it has a camera.
More waiting and then a review of the x-ray with another doctor. He told me I have a small heart. A small heart!? I took this personally. I always considered myself to be big-hearted. Then he took my pulse—twice—because he didn’t believe my heart rate. My (small) heart beats only 47 times a minute. He was impressed and assured me this was a good thing. The average beats 60 times a minute. The doctor’s own beats 53 times a minute.
Then it was more waiting to be told what to do next (go down the hall to the next office) and then even more waiting there to be told what to do next (fax my forms to the police department).
Two hours out of my life and now I know that I don’t have TB but I do have a small, slow heart.