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Ontario “Services”

The day after my oldest son’s health card expired, an unplanned trip to the doctor’s for him ended with an xray requisition. Off to Ontario Services we go.

We’re in the middle of planning a move for the end of this month and with all the distraction I don’t recall ever getting a renewal form. The woman at the front desk assures me all he needs is two pieces of ID, right after she launches a fireball at me with her eyes for daring to cross the line to ask her the question.

Suffering from what turns out to be an acute case of growing pains (This kid grew to 6 feet so fast he has stretch marks on his back.), Brennan is barely able to stand. I take his place in the winding line. Ten minutes in, one of the cameras used to take ID photos breaks down. Apparently they’re still using the kind of camera that you wind up, where the photographer goes under a little blanket and then a puff of smoke emits. She announces to all that she can only renew license stickers now. No worries there’s still a second agent—I don’t know what you call these people—beside her whose camera is still puffing away.

The last woman to line-up, obviously some sort of people manager in a previous life, pipes up, “Shouldn’t there be two lines then?” She makes some feeble attempt to reorganize everyone. None of us budge because the last thing people who’ve already been standing in line for 10 minutes want to hear is that they need some kind of people management by someone arriving late on the scene. If I was on the Titanic, I’d be throwing this woman overboard when no one was looking before she bossed the pants off of everyone in the lifeboat.

As I hear broken camera agent yell at an elderly man with a cane and his wife, “Would you two come over here so I don’t have to go back and forth?” I devise a plan in my head. At the first sign of discourtesy with me, I’ll rip the poster off the wall that promises, “Courtesy, dignity, and respect,” and wave it in their face.

I get to the front and explain the situation of the misplaced form, quite certain that a valid passport and birth certificate will more than suffice as the two pieces of ID. “I can’t accept that,” declares the agent. “You’re missing the most important thing—his report card.” Right, because a report card is the first thing I think of when I think of valid ID. No stranger to the art of launching fireballs with my own eyes, I make it quite clear that my son requires xrays today and that I’m not leaving there without that temporary card. He accepts the old health card as ID and we move on to discuss our current address.

“We’re moving at the end of the month,” I explain, “so could we just put it under our new address?” By now he’d already learned not to mess with me. “Well the rule is six days before and six days after, but I’ll make an exception.” I wondered what happens after the six days after, but decided not to press my luck by asking.

“I don’t know the postal code of the new address.” I figured I might as well get that piece of news out of the way. “Well I can’t do anything without that.” It sounded like he was giving up on this fudging the rules business and I wasn’t having it. “Do you have Google?” I half sarcastically inquired. “No. We don’t have the internet.” Apparently the government is concerned their employees may be so distracted by Facebook that they’d leave throngs of people to pillage the front desk for license renewal stickers while they update their status with, “Bitch be trying to reorganize the pigeons.” So I pulled out my phone and started searching Google Maps. Then I realized postal codes aren’t listed there or at least I couldn’t find them, so I Google Canada Post and slowly start typing in my new address. By this time, agent guy is sensing the impatience of the masses behind me so he reaches under the desk, pulls out a postal code book and has the postal code in under 30 seconds flat.



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