I caught mine on a bus ride in New Zealand. The couple behind me hacked, coughed and spewed spray and germs over me for five continuous hours. Well not quite continuously. At our two rest stops they got off the bus and smoked like chimneys.

After a few miserable days in Christchurch, I found the airport and flew on to Oztralia.

I already had my ticket to the Sydney Opera House, but this head cold did a number on my already somewhat dicey hearing. [I’d intentionally bought my seat on house right, to compensate.] Anyway, I could barely hear a thing in either ear, and my head was overfull of whatever liquid fills your head before it drips out your nose and down your throat.

I found a corner doc-in-a-box and walked in, ready to pay whatever they overcharged me as a non-citizen, just so I could return to somewhat normal functioning. In effect, “treat me like a football player and relieve the symptoms. My body will cure itself later. Oh, and by the way, I’m going to the opera tomorrow night. Will I be able to hear it?”

After no more than a couple of minutes filling out forms and less than another five or so minutes in the waiting room, I was ushered into an exam room. Five minutes later [yes that’s right, just five short minutes!] a doctor walked in. Without looking at his clipboard, he introduced himself and called me by name, even asking how I pronounced it. I told him how, and then told him my problem. He proceeded to ask me about New Zealand and my plans for Australia. He also asked me about the Michael Moore movie, Sicko. I answered his questions and told him of my experiences with the American lack-of-healthcare system. He said that it pretty much confirmed what he already knew. He also gave me advice on some must-see places while I was still in Sydney.

Anyway, after 10-15 minutes of chatting, occasionally punctuated by his examining my head and its orifices, he gave me a prescription and told me I’d be fine for the next night. I filled the prescription at a counter in the same office.

Then I went to pay, expecting the worst, since I was a non-citizen without any ties to Australian insurance or healthcare. The total? When I factored in the exchange rate, less than US$20 for both the exam and the prescription. If I’d been back in the USofA, this would have been less than half of my co-pay.

And The Barber of Seville was wonderful. By itself. And in bringing back memories of all the public domain music that enriched our Saturday mornings listening to What’s Up Doc? and other Looney Toons.

That’s all folks!

Unless you want to watch The Rabbit of Seville on youtube.