In the apocalyptic movie “Soylent Green,” Edward G. Robinson’s character goes to a public facility to be euthanized.
Charlton Heston, playing a New York city cop, discovers his friend’s plan too late and can only watch the final moments. He then follows his friend’s remains as they are transported unceremoniously in a dump truck along with dozens of other bodies to a secured and very industrial-looking “processing facility.” In the climactic ending, Heston continues to follow the body and learns that Soylent Pink, the newest food stuff being pushed to the starving masses of the world, is made from those human remains.
More than any other scene from this 1973 movie, the one that remains in my mind’s eye is Robinson’s arrival at the euthanasium where he is greeted with obsequious* smiles and escorted to what will be his final theater.
It is that entrance hall and greeters that haunt me.
That image came to me yesterday when, as much as I and my wife like the medical care, we arrived for our appointments at the Mayo Clinic facilities in Scottsdale. There is a disturbing similarity to the process and especially the demeanor of the escorts as they steer clients away and into what awaits them within.
“Mr. Skinner? Mr. Edward Skinner? How nice to see you. Please, come this way. That’s a very nice shirt you are wearing today, Edward. Now, just through this doorway …”
* Obsequious: 2) Excessively eager to please or to obey all instructions.