Friday, May 29, 2015


When you run a business open to the public you come into contact with all sorts of people.

There is one little old lady in town (for all I know she's just same age as I am) who comes every year toward the end of our selling season and spends at least an hour scrutinizing plants, asking prices, poking around looking for something she might consider buying.  The season is not complete until she has made her visit.  Today was her day.

She showed up with two other ladies just like her!  Jim approached one in the greenhouse (our helper S. was busy in the sales building) and asked if he could help her.  With her nose in the air and her mouth pursed she said, "No, I want to have the owner."  Jim went and called S. out to help.

Pretty soon it was time for S.'s lunch hour and she left.  The trio spent about 45 minutes examining plants, poking at pots and asking prices.  Jim answered.  "Our" little old lady said, "That's really expensive!!!"  "Oh yes," said Jim, "VERY expensive."  (He didn't tell me what it was.)  I wonder if she heard the sarcasm in his voice.

Jim came into the house to attend to a few matters and left the ladies to continue looking.  After some time they were finished.  They had two tomato plants and were digging into their change purses to see if they could come up with the right amount, arguing in the meantime about how much the GST would come to.  He rang up the sale: two tomato plants at $4.50 each: $9.00 plus $.45 tax.  To his surprise, "our" old lady took out a twenty dollar bill to pay.

When he told me this tale I commented, "You have to feel a little sorry for old ladies like that."  He said, "If you live to be 120 you could never be like that!"

Actually Alberta, Canada is a pretty good place to be a little old lady, even a little old lady who really does need to pinch pennies.  Everyone in Canada is covered by the universal health care.  When we see a doctor or go to the hospital, we don't get a bill.  The government pays.  How is it funded?  Everyone pays a fee according to their taxable income.  An extremely fair system!

Plus the Canadian government sends seniors a monthly check, again, adjusted according to their taxable income.  The amount I receive each month would be enough for me to buy my groceries (if I were single) and even go out for a meal a few times in the month.

Alberta also helps us by co-paying our prescriptions--for seniors I mean.  For a needful drug, such as my thyroid medication, the most you pay for having a prescription filled is $25.  There is a limit to how much medication you can get at once: a three month supply.  Unless that is, you are a "snowbird"--one of those fortunate people who get to go south to escape some of the Canadian winter.  In that case, the pharmacist may give you enough pills to last until you come back.

There is a limit to how long we can be gone out of country without losing our benefits: it's six months, or seven months, depending on which province you live in.

When we lived in Oregon in the early 80's people spoke about the Canadian system with horror as "socialism."  Well, if that's socialism, a system that takes care of people even when they are poor, I'm for it!

P.S.  When S. came back from her lunch break, she said to Jim, "You can go relax now. The Owner is back!"


  1. Love the story! We get cranky people in health care a LOT, I remember one shift working witha female physician and an extremely cranky man went up to her and told her she better get the doctor to hurry up....she calmly replied...the doctor is busy. When she did go to see him he was speechless.

  2. Oh, that's a good one! She had a sense of humour even in a demanding situation.