London -- Keeping passengers happy during the now super-long waits at the check-in desk can be a challenge. Managers at London's Heathrow may have solved the problem, they say, by filling the frustrating enduro-time wasted on line with the offering of what they describe as "health screenings."
In conjunction with the National Health Service (NHS), the airport will offer free pelvic (female) and prostate (male) exams. The While-U-Wait program has been designed by a group calling itself Doctors Without Good Boundaries.
Heathrow management tossed around various other ideas to ease the tension and boredom induced by mega-waits. Such offerings as free tea, soft drinks, snacks, TV and video games, while discussed vigorously, were rejected as further time-wasters.
Bernard E. Willsson, Assistant Associate Vice Vice-Manager, discussed the usefulness of combining health exams with airport line-holding. "Our thought was that queueing after a bomb threat would produce high anxiety and thoughts of one's own mortality. It was apparent to us that ordinary screenings would not allay that fear well enough. After all, screening for cholesterol and taking blood pressures are stiflingly boring. Fear of crashing mid-Atlantic in a fiery blaze could only be countered effectively with ANOTHER, equally strong fear. Since most people dislike, not to say fear, intrusive medical exams, they are a perfect complement, rather, counterbalance in this instance"
Willsson was terribly excited by the program. "The NHS is always looking for ways to keep people out of the health offices - they're awfully crowded, aren't they? Long waits there, longer than here, what? (laughs), and this is the full-on opportunity of a lifetime. Our biggest problem is finding physicians to perform the prostate exams - there's already a gargantuan waiting list for the pelvics."
The costs will be minimal. Funds that would typically be dedicated to clinics and health offices will be shunted to this program. "We can't get people to come in regularly for either of these exams in any case," says Willsson. "Now we'll have them dead to rights!"
Physicians who signed up for the program would not speak on record, but one unnamed physician told this reporter: "If I don't get on the Gyne list, I'm going to drop out. Cor! I'm strictly a ladies' man!"
The question of the lack of volunteers for this unique program was posed to Willsson: "Well. We're thinking of making them mandatory citizens, if you receive my meaning, should be willing to make certain sacrifices in a time of war. Am I wrong?"