My trip to the clinic: Why it’s NOT okay to get sick on the McGill/Royal Commission contract

I felt pretty bad that Monday, but I went into class anyway and taught. Late that night, though, I emailed my bosses, Anthony and Edwin, because I lost my voice. The next morning, Tuesday, my voice was still gone, so I confirmed with Anthony and Edwin that I wasn’t going to be able to teach.

That morning, barely able to swallow water, I created a lesson plan and a review/practice midterm for my class. I knew my students and the teacher who covered would need the help for the upcoming exam.

After that, I called Shabir, our trusty taxi guy. He had one of his drivers take me to the Huwaylat Clinic.

I arrived shortly before 2:00pm, but they weren’t open. I called our tech guy, Hayden, because he’s helped with information before, even though it’s not his job. He checked the clinic’s website and found out they wouldn’t open until 3:30pm.


So I waited. I waited until 3:30. But at 3:30, they still weren’t open.

I called Hayden again around 4:00. He talked to Jeff, the next level up in command. Hayden said Jeff said to try another 15 minutes and then just come back to the compound. The fun continues, I thought.

Around 4:10, a Saudi came to the door where I was waiting, looked confused, and then called someone. I asked him if he knew if the clinic would open. He said we needed to go to the other entrance, and the clinic would open in about 10 minutes. Sure enough, 10 minutes later, I was able to get in.

From there, I tried to open my health file but had trouble because I don’t have my health card. Of course, we’re never going to get these from McGill or the Royal Commission.

The receptionist, an unnaturally blue-eyed, Saudi woman, told me to talk to one of the directors. The director had me scan my passport and then directed me to a doctor. The doctor checked me over, including the pain that had been bothering my side for about a week, and then prescribed some medicine to help with my throat, my cough, and that pain around my ribs.

After roughly four hours of process time, the actual visit turned out all right.

It turned out all right until the end. When I was leaving, Hayden said to ask for a referral to the RC hospital so I could get a sick note. So back in I went.

The doctor said he’s not related to the RC hospital so he could only send me over there if it’s an emergency.

“I just need a note to show that I couldn’t go to work today,” I said.

He said he’d already given me a prescription so there’s nothing more the hospital could do. Then he wrote me one of those “he visited the clinic” notes.

At that point, I called Hayden yet again and told him I was just heading back to the compound to rest. I was sick. I was tired. And I was running around doing all this and getting even sicker and tireder. We could sort it out later.

The next day, I went to work. I still had a cough and didn’t feel great, but my fever had broken. It was just a quiz day, so I managed to hang through it. It wasn’t worth going through all the hassle of the phone calls and taxis and clinics and doctors and notes and lameness that surrounded the day before.

Thankfully, my bosses are cool. That, or they forgot. They didn’t take money out of my paycheck even though I never technically got the proper sick note.

It’s never great to get sick, but even with the pay, it’s definitely not okay to get sick with this McGill/Royal Commission contract.