Papers, Please

It is routine, of course, for aliens abroad, even abducted ones,  to carry their documentation about with them, for presentation on demand to any authorities needing to see it.  In most places, this documentation consists of a passport, a thin pocket-sized booklet containing rudimentary information about the bearer (name, age, date of birth, place of birth) and a small portrait photo for identification purposes.

In Cancerland, however, the documentation is different in several significant ways.  First, it is much larger, and much thicker.  It tends in fact to be the size of an eight and a half by eleven manila folder, and to have as many pages in it as a small-town phone book.  Frequently, too, the folder is bristling with color-coded tabs.  And the information in the folder is very far from rudimentary.  The bearer is parsed to a fare-thee-well in the folder’s dozens of charts, lists, inventories, and graphs, down to his or her creatine level during the second Bush Administration.  Indeed, the dossier amounts to a minutely detailed catalog of the bearer’s contents, a kind of cargo manifest that makes it possible for anyone scanning it to see almost at once whether anything is missing, or has been added.

Most curiously of all, there is no photo of the bearer’s face.  Your mug matters not at all in Cancerland.  Instead of a photo of the part by which anyone anywhere else in the world would recognize whoever it is handing the folder over — i.e., his or her kisser — there are depictions of the bearer’s innards, in cross-section.  Thus there may be nice glossy films of the presenting Cancerlander’s pancreas, or liver, or ovary, or brain, or any other organ or bodily system deemed important enough to be singled out.

This explains why, in the usual interchange between minders and menders and the Cancerlanders to whom they’ve been assigned, there is very little mutual eye contact.  Cancerlanders do study the faces of the minders, often very intently indeed,  but for their part the minders nearly always look down, at the folder they are holding open in their hands, and actually seem a bit taken aback if they glance up to discover that there is a face associated with all that data neatly laser-printed on the pages they’ve been studying.

Evidently, we look nothing at all like our hemograms, on which dimples, pimples and worry do not show.

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Published in: on April 1, 2010 at 3:36 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Photographs of your mug show up on your folder when you move into the land of Nursing Homes aka Long Term Care. You really don’t want to go there!

  2. You raise a great point with the photos. I think they should be included on each file for all patients. It might help to ensure that Mr. Smith who is there for heart surgery doesn’t end up getting Mrs. Blackwell’s gall bladder operation.


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