Wednesday, December 7, 2011

{Ottawa Doula} A World Without Coffee

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I was in a big rush, as usual. It was 8:50am, and I was determined to get my morning coffee at Starbucks, a 10 minute walk from the main campus of The Ottawa Hospital - despite having a meeting at 9am. Cafeteria coffee sucks, and Tim Horton's has long lineups. Plus, the walking does me good.

As I waited to use the creamer machine, a man ahead of me was dumping an enormous amount of cream into his coffee. My first reaction was judgemental ("who puts that much cream in their coffee?") and my next reaction was impatience ("would he hurry up already!")

Before I could set my coffee down on the counter, he hurried to get some napkins and clean up a spill he had made. He apologized. As we stirred our coffees simultaneously, he joked about how the Canadian government would fall if our country suddenly ran out of coffee. This made me chuckle - I could just imagine it now: rioting and looting, people shaking and crying in the streets. Caffeine withdrawal is a messy thing.

"The thing I can't understand," he said, "is why all you Canadians - with your fancy machines, and recently purchased coffee - leave your homes every morning to stand in lineups at Tim Horton's."

"Where are you from?" I asked.

"Zimbabwe" he replied.

He introduced himself as Paul from Africa. We stood and talked for a moment, and I learned that he had been a doctor in Zimbabwe, and came to Canada as a refugee 8 years ago. He's still trying to practice as a doctor here. He works at CHEO (Children's Hospital in Eastern Ontario), alongside men and women as qualified he is. But instead of picking up the tools of the trade and saving lives, his work includes menial tasks that could be done by someone with a high school diploma.

"What astonishes me the most," he said, "is the beautiful posters the Canadian government uses to attract skilled people like us to move to your country. They make it seem easy."

Eight years doesn't sound very easy.

We said our goodbyes, and I was on my way, hurrying again to get to my meeting. I was late...but you know what? I didn't even care.

Today as I sip my homemade coffee, I suddenly feel a sense of shame. We live in (supposedly) one of the greatest countries in the world, and yet Paul can't work as a doctor and up North, children are dying from a lack of proper health care.

A world without coffee? Good! Let the government fall, and replace it with people who know what they're doing.

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