If We Were Having Coffee – August 9/2015

The Secret Document



Welcome to Willow’s weekly coffee and tea garden. My name is Paul; I’ll be your barista today. I’m happy to see you have come for a cuppa and a chat. Please come into the garden and make yourself comfortable. Willow fluffed the cushions on the chairs and set the tables in the garden so we can have a cuppa and chat as we soak up the sun and enjoy the beautiful plants. As usual, I’d be pleased to bring a pot of whatever beverage you prefer – we have a wide range of teas and coffees to satisfy our world-wide readership. Also available is a large selection of spirits for addition to your cuppa or in its place. We can relax amongst the flowers while we discuss the affairs of the week both personal and/or worldwide. How has your week been?

Government Health Card

Canadian Driver’s Liecence

So, I finally had to bite the bullet this week and brave the halls of government to change my address officially on my Health Card and Driver’s License. I’ve been putting this off since I moved because I always feel inadequate or don’t have a document that is absolutely required. Quite honestly (and don’t rat me out) I’ve sometimes gone years without changing addresses officially. What’s different this time, you ask? Weeeeell, I got a notification (at the wrong address) that I had only 60 days to reapply for my government prescription coverage for 2015 or I would be ineligible for the entire year. And it is tied to my Health Card – the information on which is required to be accurate.

Yikes! So, I bundled up the appropriate paperwork along with tax information from lastyear (they use this to determine deductible) and stuffed it all in an addressed envelope, ready to mail. But, of course, I didn’t have a stamp, so I’d been carrying the envelope around for about a week waiting for a stamp to enter my life. I mean, who wants to make a special trip for one stamp? Surely I would visit a store or be close to a post office (many are in drug stores here – I believe they are called chemists in England) or somesuch where I could pick up a stamp.

The provincial government has centralized all their documentation services under one department called ServiceOntario – often spelled without the space between the two words. They did this with an eye to making it more efficient and more easily accessible for the public. They have offices scattered around the province, including one in Ottawa City Hall – a short ride from my place. They also have an online service to change addresses and a phone service. Being essentially lazy, I called first but it was a holiday here Monday and there was no service. So, I opened up the website and started through the process of answering their questions but there was a trick question – isn’t there always? Since 911 most documentation has to be based on what I call “root” documents- birth certificate, passport, citizenship documents, or a few other primary documents. When I originally applied for my Health Card I used one of these documents for the application, and I have no clue which one. Well, the website insisted that I give it the last four digits of the document I had used decades ago to originally apply for my Health Card. Sigh. I tried a couple that I could think of and then…. It quite pertly told me that I was now ineligible to apply for an address change online. I found out later that it has a “two strikes and you are out” policy – it does not take kindly to guessing.

Would you like another cuppa? A sweet perhaps? Having bombed out permanently at the online option, I waited until the next day and then called ServiceOntario. Of course, I got straight through with no waiting and I am sure you can guess why. It turns out that they know when applicants have been guessing on their website and no, I can’t guess further on the phone. I was told very politely with a slight tone of apology that I would have to visit one of their many offices to make the necessary changes. So, I called up my transport and made the necessary arrangements for the next day to visit our charming city hall – still not sure what document I was missing. This being a new twist on the missing document problem – not only am I missing one but I don’t know which one and they won’t tell me – it’s a secret. Ha!



Fingers crossed, I bundled up all the paperwork I had and boarded my bus to city hall. It is a beautiful building and I was greeted with large signs on the door saying that I was welcome to breast feed my baby anywhere and anytime in this facility – and private rooms were available if I preferred. This is good to know. I located the ServiceOntario area – and it is a large area – and stood in line to get a number to sit in line. The gentleman who gave me my number – A95 – also gave me the address change form that I requested. I had a seat and watched the LED number display – Now Serving A72. The form was straight forward and, amazingly, did not ask me for the secret document that I didn’t have or at least didn’t know if I had or not. I watched the numbers change and noticed there were also “B” numbers and “D” numbers. Apparently there were also Service Canada and Service Ottawa services here as well – I found out later. Hmmm.



After about 30 minutes of waiting my number came up and I proceeded to the teller indicated – there were about 25 tellers. There a cheerful woman greeted me and asked how she could help. I explained what I wanted and I passed her the completed address change form and my Health Card and Driver’s License. I waited with bated breathe for the request for the secret document – but no request came. The agent worked smilingly on her computer. She glanced down at the two picture cards in front of her and I felt obliged to mention that I had grown considerable facial hair since the pictures were taken. I expected at least a frown but no, she lightly quipped: “Beards are becoming more popular lately.” Again the smile. Still typing away on the computer. Still feeling like I might be mistaken for someone trying to pass fake ID, I told her that I did some guest posting on blogs and had received a number of compliments on the beard – and that all I needed now was an unheated room over a bakery where I could pour my angst onto the screen and I would be a real writer. I realized that I was babbling and stopped while I was ahead. The woman smiled and gave a small laugh at my comment.

Within a few minutes she returned my cards to me and slid two more documents across the counter. She explained that a new driver’s license would be mailed within 60 days and that my Health Card address was changed in the data base. The two documents attested to the fact that I had braved the system and had made the necessary changes as required by law. If at any time I was asked by any official if and when I had made the changes, I would be required to produce these documents, so please keep them in a safe place. Ha! So, the process was now complete and I had more documents but still had no idea what the secret document was. So, I had to ask: “Can you tell me what the base document was that I originally used to apply for my Health Card?” And, still smiling she obliged: “It was your Nova Scotia Birth Certificate.” Ahhh, I seem to have misplaced that document, so I would never have guessed right. Should I order a new one?


Having addressed all my needs and wanting to impress upon me that this was a full service government facility that dearly wanted to fulfill my every desire, she had to ask: “Is there anything else I can help you with?” Being sarcastic and trying to be funny, I produced the stampless envelope and said:”I have this application for prescription coverage, can I give this to you?” She reached out and took the envelope, looked at the address and replied “Sure, I can take care of that for you.” The corners of the flap were a bit loose and she was busy taping them down when I stuttered: “But there’s no stamp on it.” She smiled: “That’s fine, we have inter-departmental mail and this is a provincial prescription service.” Wow. I thanked her very much, complimented her on the service and with a cheery “Good-bye” headed out.

On that note, that’s about all we have room for this week, so it’s time to settle in with another cuppa and enjoy the garden. Sweets anyone? Please join me in thanking Willow for her invitation to tea. We are all honored that you dropped by today to visit. I hope you’ve enjoyed yourself and the conversation and please look around at Willow’s other posts while you’re here. Willow is over there serving her guests and chatting it up. Let’s go see how she is today. Have a great week. We look forward to seeing you back here forsweets and beverages of your choice again next week.

 And of course  the


over at Part Time  Monster  and Gene’O’s


35 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Paul
    Aug 09, 2015 @ 10:06:24

    Thanks so much for the opportunity to guest post Willow. I hope all is well with you and your family. Have a great week!


  2. willowdot21
    Aug 09, 2015 @ 12:01:05

    Great post Paul! I am so glad that you can breast feed in public or private at City Hall!! 🙂 Well they certainly made you jump through hoops to get your little cards sorted! But as ever you valiantly soldiered on and wrote an interesting and entertaining account of the whole process. Sorry about the photos but I think they are okay now. I am cooking dinner for the mother in law who comes over most Sunday. XXXXXX


  3. Paul
    Aug 09, 2015 @ 12:09:24



  4. cordeliasmom2012
    Aug 09, 2015 @ 13:54:01

    Dealing with government entities is always so much fun. Very soon, I will be doing a post on my site about my experience with our Social Security Administration. Sorry to say, my experience wasn’t as good as yours. But that’s a story you’ll just have to wait for.


  5. tesscol
    Aug 09, 2015 @ 19:23:51

    Well Paul You certainly had to be determined and patient to get your prescription paperwork in order.
    I have not had a good week as I always feel lonely when my family are out of the country. 3 of 4 were in various parts of the world and I miss being able to speak with them on the phone. Our youngest (who is a youthful 50) lives in UK but couple of hours drive away, and is often busy as he is a musician and ‘gigs’ at weekends.
    Would you believe after 55 years of marriage we have no friends to socialise with. We just socialise with family. This is because my partner is not very good at making friends or joining social activities. I find this hard as I am naturally gregarious and love being in company. I have to do lots of activities on my own.
    Thanks for your offer of coffee and cake! I will be enjoying more tomorrow morning as my local Mother’s Union group will be entertaining visitors and raising money to help others less fortunate than ourselves.
    Talking of which you have no doubt heard about the worrying situation in France at the Channel Tunnel where many desperate people are trying to get into the UK.
    Goodness knows what can be done to solve the problem. People traffickers are at the bottom of it, as well as the dreadful situation in Syria. There are so many looking for a better life.Greece, Italy and Germany are having to cope with the problem too.
    Well I had better get off my soapbox and thank you for your hospitality.


    • willowdot21
      Aug 09, 2015 @ 19:38:14

      Have a hug from me while you wait for Pau! xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


    • Paul
      Aug 09, 2015 @ 20:01:01

      Hi Tesscol! So pleased to have you drop by for a chat and a cuppa and cake. Yes it must be hard when your family is all away like that. Could you perhaps skype them? It is wonderful that your Mother’s Union is raising money like that for the less fortunate. Such kind folks.

      I was just reading about the immigrant issue at the Chunnel. That’s a stickler. The French don’t want to press charges and yet they continue to allow it to happen. Britain has no authority to intervene until after the fact. Tough one. I hope they get it figured out soon but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

      It is hard to turn back people who would die if they went back home. On the other hand integrating refugees is very difficult and seldom successful. There don’t seem to be any easy answers to this one Tess.

      Well, I hope your week goes well and that the Mother’s Union raises lots for the less fortunate. I am honored to have you drop in for a chat and a cuppa with cake. Please come again.


  6. Alex Hurst
    Aug 10, 2015 @ 12:45:57

    Its great when what looks like it will be a chore turns out to be a very pleasant thing. I’m glad you got a teller who was chipper and kind!


    • willowdot21
      Aug 10, 2015 @ 12:54:19

      Hi Alex have a cuppa and something to eat Paul will be with you shortly!


    • Paul
      Aug 10, 2015 @ 13:52:51

      Thank you for dropping by for a visit Alex. I must say I agree – it was a very pleasant surprise when I spoke with the agent. The customer service has surely improved considerably over the years. It’s nice when things go smoother than anticipated. It is a pleasure to have you here Alex, please come by again.


  7. socialbridge
    Aug 10, 2015 @ 22:46:47

    Paul, it sounds like you must have Irish blood with all that charm and blarney. Glad you got sorted.


  8. ~ Sadie ~
    Aug 18, 2015 @ 02:04:54

    Hey Paul! So glad your errand went well, sometimes things are easy! Had to laugh at the breast-feeding signs!! As far as the birth certificate goes, if you can’t find it, I would get one, but here in the U.S. seems like we are having to show them more frequently then in the past, especially if hiring on for a new job, and particularly if the job requires any kind of a background check. Thanks again, Willow! As usual – enjoyed the sweets and the libation 🙂


    • Paul
      Aug 18, 2015 @ 09:30:06

      Hey Sadie! Thanks so much for dropping by. We are often asked for one of the “base” documents, but I just use my passport. I’m an ugly old bastard – no one questions that I am who I say I am = after all who would choose to look this way? Ha! Surprisingly (and amusingly) as you get older people are less suspicious of you.

      So glad you came for a visit, a cuppa and sweets. Please drop by again.


  9. Barry
    Sep 20, 2015 @ 00:35:40

    Ah… Post Offices. Haven’t seen one of those since the 1980s when the service was privatised. Today we have more than 25 Registered Postal Operators, two of which provide end to end nationwide coverage: NZ Post (the former Post Office) runs Post Shops in larger cities, and has outlets through a franchised bookshop network everywhere else. DX Mail operates through a nationwide courier company.Almost every town will have posting facilities for both companies so you need to have your wits about you to ensure letters go into the post box for the appropriate postage stamp.

    One of the nice things about our health service is that it involves no paperwork for its users – it’s all handled by the providers, unless you consider the carrying a prescription from the doctor to a pharmacy paperwork.

    If you’re making coffee, then I’d like a Flat White please. But not like one of those pale imitations that Starbucks produce. The genuine original Kiwi version (or at a push, the Aussie copy).


    • willowdot21
      Sep 20, 2015 @ 05:44:26

      I hope Paul will be here asap have another cuppa 🙂


    • Paul
      Sep 20, 2015 @ 05:57:01

      One NZ Flat White coming up! Thanks so much for dropping by Barry. We privatized the post office here in Canada some years ago. It still goes by the same name and runs a similar system but it is privately owned. In fact the woman – Moya Greene -who was in charge when it was done, was hired by British Royal Post a few years ago and we waved bye-bye as she flew to England to work her magic. Ms Greene was a mentor of my wife’;s – a current director at Canada Post. She is still chief executive officer of Royal Post – so, if you happen to see Ms. Greene wandering around London Willow, please say hello from her fellow Canadians. 😀

      Thanks again for the visit Barry and please drop by again.


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