Questionnaires

“What are these for?” said Irene, fiddling with the white envelopes and then holding one at arms length and reading. “The Authority, 10001 The City. Why are you giving them to me? Why don’t you take them to the Post Office?”

“There are questionnaires inside the envelopes,” said Mr. Amin. “I’d like you to hand one out to everybody here.”

He could have done it himself, but then what could Irene do? Just sit there doing nothing? As manager of Open Hearts seniors daycare centre he had to be ingenious at all times, which was the only way to keep the place running. “When completed, they should go back in the envelopes and be returned to me. Then I will take them to the Post Office.”

“What are they for?” said Irene. “I’ve filled out enough forms to last me two lifetimes. We all have. What don’t they know about us already? We’re old and we’re dying. What else is there to know?”

“Irene,” said Mr. Amin. “We are regulated by The Authority. There have been bad news stories about care homes recently, and they are a hot topic provincially. The Authority is doing some Quality Control.”

“What’s the point of doing surveys now? It will take them years to analyse results and implement changes. By then we’ll all be dead!”

Mr. Amin knew she was right. The Authority’s capitalist system was based upon dissatisfaction. Do satisfied people feel the need to buy things to prove that “they’re worth it”? Of course not. They stay at home and appreciate simple pleasures. You may as well do what good you could though. He said to Irene, “We’ll be dead anyway, so why not help future generations of oldies?”

“Okay, I will. Why not? What have we got to lose? Don’t blame me for what they write though. They’re not all in the best of moods, or even sane.”

Irene walked over to Gemma. She didn’t want to interrupt her knitting, so stood over her for a while. There was no appreciable slowing of her knitting and purling of purple and white yarns. Irene cleared her throat and said, “Gemma, may I give you something?”

Gemma’s needles slipped. She grimaced to herself, and looked up furiously. “What do you want! Disturbing a woman doing her knitting. You should know better than that! Who the hell do you think you are anyway?”

“I’m sorry Gemma. I tried to get your attention but you were too engrossed. What are you making?”

Gemma was still irritated and said sarcastically, “Can’t you see? It’s the fabric of life. The knit is what should happen to you, and the purl is what does happen.” She jabbed a needle.

Irene said, “I didn’t know that you took it so seriously. I thought it was just a pastime, making bootees for your grandchildren.”

“I don’t have any grandchildren,” she said. “Or any children, for that matter.”

Maybe Gemma was onto something, thought Irene. The yarn was a good analogy. The Two Laws of the Universe did create a kind of fabric. The weft was the Law of Attraction, drawing you along, and the warp was the Law of Karma, pulling you up or down. Us oldies must be getting wise.

Gemma said, “So why are you bothering me? What’s in that envelope?”

“It’s a questionnaire about the Centre. Please complete the questions and return it to Mr. Amin.”

“You must be joking. I was a high school teacher for thirty years. A damned fine one too. I’ve taught every person in Lucerne under forty to add, subtract, multiply and divide, and the smarter ones square roots, squares, integration, and differentiation too. And then they saddled me with so many forms to complete, lesson plans to create, reports to write, key stages to follow, observations to pass, and endless other bureaucracy that I had a nervous breakdown. Can you understand? Someone who could add real and imaginary numbers, divide by irrational ones, and multiply by transcendent ones with her eyes closed, was made to drown in a sea of stupid papers. Idiotic! Vacuous! Pointless! I never recovered and never returned to work. All I’m doing now is waiting to die. The last thing I want to do is complete any more forms.”

Irene told Gemma that she didn’t need to complete the form. She would explain to Mr. Amin, who would understand surely. She handed out forms to others more successfully, and then came to James. She wondered what to do with his form. He sat there all day, unresponsive to everybody – even to her, his one-time soulmate, so many lives ago, but he couldn’t even look back into her loving eyes now. That was life. Or should she say that was lives? She decided to complete the questionnaire for him.

It was a simple system. There were twelve questions, with a choice of responses – Good, OK, or Bad. She looked into his eyes as she asked each question, hoping for a clue to his thoughts. She asked him what he thought of the location of the centre, its facilities, staff, the food, the information they provided, responses to clients’ concerns, the treatment of visitors, their occasional excursions, overall cleanliness, healthy and artistic activities, daily timings, transport. “Anything else?”

He stared blankly ahead throughout her questioning, and gave no indications at all. She ticked OK for all of the questions. Maybe the conditions of his next life would be Good.

Who knew what The Authority would do with the results anyway? Would they reduce services to dissatisfied respondents for being unappreciative? They were just as likely to reduce services to satisfied ones, thinking that they were getting more than they deserved. Why should unproductive members of society be so happy? If everybody felt like that, The Authority’s economic system, based upon perennial dissatisfaction, would fall apart.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: