recently i was in a doctor's office and was asked by the nurse if i knew how much i weighed.
i looked at the nurse and gave my answer and she twisted her face in a confused and somewhat surprised manner. you see, i gave her my weight in America's POUNDS, while the nurse was mentally working in the metric system, which is KILOGRAMS, not pounds. in fact, she had no clue what a pound was, it seemed. this meant i had given her a number more than twice what it is in kilograms. adding to the confusion, the British also use a measurement i had never heard of before moving here called a "stone." a STONE is equivalent to 14 pounds, which means my weight in STONES is even less. now, i can certainly get used to weighing a lower number, but what i can't get used to is remembering what each measurement means. i'm just going to ask to get on a scale from now on.
while i'm thinking of my trip to the doctor's office i'd also like to compliment the National Health Service of England. perhaps you don't know, but Great Britain has the NHS -- free national health care. that's right. FREE. the doctor's visit is free, the tests you may need are administered for free, even the surgery you could need is entirely free. the only thing you pay for is medication prescriptions at a pharmacy (if you require it) and even then, any prescription no matter what medicine it is costs just £7.10 (that's about $14 for you Americans).
pretty damn good deal, eh?
now i wonder... why can't America get itself a national health care program going? in every presidential election at least one candidate speaks of reforming health care and making it accessible and free (or low-cost) to all. but it never, ever happens. Americans spend thousands of dollars on insurance coverage and still pay out-of-pocket money on top of that. why is it that one of the largest, most powerful nations in the modern world can't organize a nationalized health care system like the one England's had in place since the 1960s?
it's a real shame.
i'm not being a turn-coat here, but i'd also like to give props to the people i've encountered who work within London's health care system. they have consistently proven to be kind, pleasant and attentive -- a far cry from what most Americans would get in the same situation.
come on, America. step up.