I`ve been involved in a few minor incidents in the past week. All small things, all fairly trivial….but they all have one thing linking them. I`ll come to the link later, but first….the Post Office.
I`d watched the Post Office van pull up, watched the driver come to my door, then drive away again. I`d been waiting for a parcel you see, and the sender had promised I`d receive it today. But….no parcel. Some hours later, I checked the mailbox…and there was a card the driver had left…`You were out, blah blah`.So, slightly peeved, I walked the mile to the collections office….and there it began.
`I.D?` I handed over my bank card. `This says A. Sabrewulfe…the parcel is addressed J. Sabrewulfe`
Indeed, J.Sabrewulfe is my wife., but she is sick in bed.
`This parcel has to be signed for, and only the addressee can sign ` I looked at the card. The `To be signed for` box was unchecked.
Well, can`t I sign for it? `Nope, the rules state that it must be the addressee.`
I pulled out my photo card driving licence. I show him it. pointing out my name, my photo, and most importantly, my address. I pulled out an electricity bill. Not good enough…has to be the addressee,
`But`,I said` Yuu can see I live there. It’s obvious that the parcel is for someone in my household`
I pointed out that, had the driver bothered to ring the doorbell, I would have taken, and signed for, the parcel. `Yes`, said the imbecile behind the desk `because we would know you lived there`
But you know I live there…I`ve just proved it to you. `Unfortunately sir, the rules state that only the addressee can sign.`
I bit my tongue, and asked them if they thought I had broken into my own house and stolen the delivery card ,so I could fraudulently claim the parcel. `No, sir, but it’s the rules….`
I repeat that she is sick, and can`t come herself. `Well, sir, if you bring an item with her ID on it, you can sign and collect the parcel`
That would have to e later, though, they were closing for lunch. As soon as they re-opened, I was there. I showed them her bank card, signed the sheet and took the parcel.
`Just a thought` I asked `How do you know that card belongs to my wife, or if she knows I have her card? It could be my mother’s card, as she has the same name, or I could have stolen it from my wife`
The drone behind the desk blinked, twice. `Don`t blame me, sir, its the rules`
Then there was the doctor’s appointment.
4 or so months ago, I went to see my GP. Unfortunately, she was away. so I had to see another doctor at the practice. Things didn`t go well from the start. He asked me about my chest pain, and if the tablets were working.
`I don`t have chest pain, and I`m certainly not on any tablets for it.` He looked puzzled, and asked me if I still had bouts of dizziness. `No-o-o, I said, `I`m not suffering from dizziness.`
He tapped on his computer, scrolled through various screens, and asked me about my medications `Interferon, ribavirin and Citalopram` I said. `There`s nothing on here about those, he said`
I looked at his computer screen. `Ermmm…my name isn`t Ayodele Onyejekwe…and I wasn`t born in 1934` He`d got the wrong patients notes on the screen. He just laughed…I had a sinking feeling and swore, silently, before explaining why I, A.Sabrewulfe, was there. Eembarrassing as it is, I was starting to develop the symptoms of a hyper-active bladder, ie, when I wanted to go…I HAD to go…immediately, if you see what I mean. (I`m trying to be delicate here) He gives me a urine pot, a request for some blood tests, and tells me to go the hospital and come back in a weeks time for the results. A week later, I came to see him again. `Good news`, he tells me `You`re not diabetic`
`I know I`m not,` I said `but what about my bladder?` `Oh, are you having problems with your bladder?` he asked
I told him I was fine, and left.
That was 4 months ago. A month ago, the practice rang me. Evidently the same GP wanted me to repeat the blood test. For Diabetes. I explained that I didn`t HAVE diabetes. `I know, said the receptionist,`but the doctor wants to confirm that you still don`t`. I couldn`t help myself. I pointed out that I also didn`t have Lassa Fever, Rabies or Tuberculosis, so maybe I should be tested to confirm I didn`t have them either. There was a long pause.`So shall I send you the forms, or will you come in and collect them?`
Two weeks ago, I went to see my own GP about the bladder problem. Now, I won`t have a word said against her. She`s one of the best GP`s I`ve ever had. So I didn`t mind when she gave me a urine pot a blood test request form, and told me to make an appointment to see one of the male GP`s, `just to check my prostate`.
So I went to the receptionist, and asked for an appointment with one of the males.
`OK,the doctor`s list is full today, so if you could ring at 8.30 tomorrow morning……`
`But, I said, your sign says I can make an appointment for tomorrow`
`Yes, you can make an appointment for today, next day or next week.`
OK, I`d like to make an appointment now, for tomorrow`
`Yes, she patiently explained` If you could ring tomorrow morning….`
You just said I can make an appointment for `next-day`. Oh forget it. Can I make an appointment for next week, please?`
`Yes`, she said` Just ring at 8.3 on the day you want to come and…...`
I gave up. There was no point in arguing, It was painfully obvious that I wasn`t going to win.
`Is there anything else I can help you with?` she asked.
Which brings me to the Hospital, and the bus ride there..
It was early, and the bus was packed. Luckily, I`d managed to get a seat near the front of the bus, so I had a clear view of the woman who later got on with a child in a buggy. But there was a problem. Evidently she didn`t have enough on her Oyster card. She rummaged through her purse, but was 10p short. She did have a £20 note, but the driver wouldn`t accept it, he `wasn`t allowed` to give that much change. She asked if she could just pay the £2.20 she had, `it was only 10p short`…the bus driver ordered her off. I gave her the 10p, and finally the bus moved.
At the hospital out-patients, I took my ticket and vainly looked for a seat. They had changed the system. In the `old days`, you tore a ticket off the roll on the wall and waited for a pre-recorded voice to call your number, and in you went. Now, you pushed a button on a shiny box on the wall, the ticket (same style, colour, print) is issued and you wait for a pre-recorded voice to call your number, PLUS, the number is shown on a new, shiny monitor, along with the `estimated waiting time`. There were 98 people in front of me. The monitor told me that there was `currently a waiting time of 28 minutes….` After an hour, with still 52 people in front of me, I went and spoke to one of the staff. I showed her my professional ID and suggested that they gave me the requisite vials, and I would take my own blood. She didn`t think that was allowed, asked me to take a (non-existent) seat…as`It won`t be long now` I pointed out that the hospital were quite happy with me injecting myself every 7 days…so what was the difference? Thy would have one less `client` (or is it customer… service user, maybe?) and I could get away quicker. Win-win situation, I thought. She blinked, then asked me to take a seat before rushing off. I finally left out-patients at 11.35. I had entered at 09.15. Two hours and twenty minutes…just for a blood-test.
And that’s it. Various small incidents in my life over the last few months. And what, Dear Reader, links them?…apart from me, obviously.
It’s this. They all had a little sign or notice on the wall. Sometimes with different words, but all saying the same thing……`Aggressive behaviour will not be tolerated`
But that’s not what it’s saying at all. What it’s really saying is…..
`We will give you a sloppy, 3rd-rate service. You will wait in line for hours. You will fill in unnecessary forms, be treated like a child, sneered at, and be treated with disdain. We will deal with you in an, at most, cursory manner and we will consider you to be an intrusion into our lives. You will accept all this, without a word of complaint, or we will withdraw our service completely. Now shut up and do as you`re told`
Now, I`m not an idiot. Sometimes there`s breakdowns in communication, or a mistake is made, things take longer than expected. At those times, a simple `Sorry`, with a quick explanation of why things have changed, and all is fine (usually). But these notices aren`t that. The implication is that the public WILL get angry…. And WHY would you expect the public to get angry? Because of the piss-poor service, maybe?
Well, I`ve had enough. I`m going to get some cards printed, with just few lies of text. It will read
`I expect an adequate level of service. I expect to get the service that I paid for. I expect to be treated as an intelligent human being. If you treat me as anything less, I reserve the right to lean over the counter and smack you in the mouth. Your co-operation is appreciated`