I had the powerfully annoying and mind-dulling experience of dealing with three separate government institutions over the past couple of weeks (feel free to send sympathy cards): The Driver License division of the DMV, the County Court system (umm, yes, because I had the extraordinary good luck of getting pulled over ON MY WAY to the DMV to get my license renewed!), and the U.S. Postal Service (The word Service being a euphemism for massive inconvenience.) —Mind you, I’m not talking about the post office window at our little grocery, where friendly faces know us by name and skillfully take our packages. I’m talking about the big, scary government headquarters where you have to go to deal with bigger issues (Like how the mailman refuses to deliver any mail on your street because the neighbor's dog was out. Or how I went in to pick up a package of prescription meds, but they had already sent it back to the pharmacy...on the same day I tried to pick it up.) THAT post office.
In dealing with all three departments I encountered a similar experience: Big, depressing, dusty, gray buildings. Unnecessarily long and plodding lines, understaffed counters manned by incompetent people with sour dispositions (except for one pleasant man at the post office--at the end of the other line) and endless forms to be filled out. Each entity seemed to have a secret agenda to impede progress at all costs. Each was its own brand of purgatory.
Despite my somewhat liberal leanings, I couldn’t help but ask myself what healthcare might literally be like if the government were allowed to run it. And the thought horrified me...
Big, depressing, dusty, gray buildings. Long, slow-moving lines to see overbooked primary care physicians. Not enough medical personnel employed in order to meet the needs of all the people in line. Grumpy nurses, cantankerous doctors, control-freak secretaries, all performing their tasks perfunctorily while carefully watching the clock. an obsession with Policy. And of course endless forms, endless paperwork, endless red tape, resulting in surgeries and other necessary-but-costly treatments being endlessly stalled. (If they're lucky we'll die first, in order to cut costs!)
Fortunately, I also went to In-N-Out Burger. Twice. In as many weeks. And it was the complete opposite experience: Bright, clean, well-lit and well-designed spaces. Short, fast-moving lines. Plenty of cheerful, helpful, efficient people who are well-trained and eager to serve. Everything sparkling clean, well organized. An emphasis on Quality. Not a single form to fill out, and they take your order information in record time. The whole place fairly beams with freshness, vitality, and progress-in-the-making. The palm trees in their branding even smack of paradise.
So? It’s obvious. I hereby make a move (and a plea to President Obama) to put In-N-Out Burgers in charge of healthcare reform.