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WILD COOT: Male menopause

Harry Russell

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I HAVE BEEN going through some horrors lately. I wonder if we are ranked best in the Caribbean in regard to honesty, probity and efficiency, what the others must be like.
First of all, I went to get my driver’s licence renewed the other day because I have gone over three score and ten – not my fault. Since I knew they would require a certificate to show that I was fit to drive, I went to a certain doctor, who happened to be an ophthalmologist. He readily gave me a certificate. His letterhead advertised that he was an optical specialist.
When my turn came to be served at the Licensing Authority in the Pine, I waited another five minutes watching the attendant fix other matters on her desk. I was tempted to say, “Lady, the customer in front of you comes first”, but I held my tongue. When she took a look at the doctor’s certificate that said that I had been examined and am fit to drive in Barbados, in a very polite way she gave it back to me, saying: “We do not accept certificates from eye clinics.”
I pointed out that the certificate had been signed by a doctor who also happened to be an eye specialist, but that did not help matters when it was referred to a female supervisor. I managed to get the doctor to identify himself on the telephone and to speak to the supervisor. That did not help either.
I believed that because the doctor had only signed his name, that I would get the stamp of his office that showed his credentials. Back I went to the doctor’s office and got his medical appellations that were as long as Broad Street. When I gave it again to the young attendant she once more referred it to her supervisor. She gave it a cursory examination and I believed that since the matter had already been referred, God had spoken – or his deputy.
I was told to see a senior supervisor in another part of the compound. He took a look at the certificate and said: “Show that to the chief.”
While I waited for the chief, a very courteous young man tried to find the words of the relevant section of law by which, presumably, my certificate had been refused. We eventually found Cap 55 section 66 of the Licensing Laws of Barbados that required a certification that the person should be mentally, physically and visually fit to drive. Could not the female supervisor whom I saw first or the senior supervisor have told me that, and I quote, “the above named patient was examined today and has met the criteria for driving in Barbados” does not mean “physically, mentally and visually able to drive in Barbados”, or so they think.
The second incident concerns a bank. What are the banks increasing their charges for? I mean for what are the banks increasing their charges? Improved customer service? I thought that banks would be glad for customers to make use of the ATM (Automatic Teller Machine). Do not ATMs relieve the stress of cashiers and shorten the long lines? Anyway, do they not train their staff or can they not afford to train them?
Simple thing! Witnessing the signing of a will! Very senior officers were afraid to oblige the customer with something that the messenger could have witnessed. And the customer had been dealing with the bank for over 30 years. I was not annoyed, just sad to realize the fear that now permeates the banks.
Lastly, and I have to say that this happened to a friend. “Man, I just saved myself $11 000. I have not licensed nor insured my truck for the past five years. So far I have saved myself over $40 000.”
“If the police catch you, your behind dark,” I rejoined. “Police catch who? No way! If I have an accident, it may only cost two or three thousand dollars to fix the vehicles and I am still ahead of the game. My argument is that if the other fellow were to call the police, then the matter goes to court and I face the consequences. The other fellow gets the satisfaction of seeing me go to jail, fined or have my licence confiscated for a while, but he get nothing unless he is comprehensively insured.” Even if he is comprehensively insured I pay the estimated damages of his vehicle and mine.”
I said: “Good for you. That is why Barbados is ranked seventeenth overall and the least corrupt country in South America.” I really am suffering from menopause.   
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