When I am annoyed, with either an individual or an organisation, or the service provided by that individual or organisation; I write. I email. Stridently, bluntly, I speak of my annoyance, and of the sheer un-professionalism exhibited, in so many areas, when the service or goods provided fall way, way short of advertised provisions or expectations. In past decades, one wrote a letter, or phoned, and attempted, usually without much success, to express your frustrations with a faulty appliance, or the aftermath of product delivered with a fault; but now, with virtually instant communications, you can target and vent your annoyance so much more effectively.
I took on my local County Council by email after a mid-level office-bound bureaucrat decided that my application for equipment designed to make my illness-stricken wife’s life easier could not be completed without a stainless-steel ramp outside my back door, to carry my wife’s wheelchair down from the kitchen to my driveway. As I already had a ramp, strongly built of wood, designed and built by my own hands, and completed at a price less than one-twentieth of that which was proposed; I sent off a series of stinging email to as many senior people as I could find addresses for at the County Council. The end result, my ramp is still there, the office-bound clown was fired.
If you reach a targeted senior management level, so much the better. Back in the day, working south of Johannesburg, I contacted the managing director of a very large engineering company in South Africa, and enquired if they had a service sector availability to service a Rolls Royce-powered railway engine. When he replied “Oh yes, our service division is immediately available,” I then countered with the remark “You could have fooled me!”. As I was calling to ask why my complete service had been cancelled four times in a row, with virtually no notice at all, he was, understandably annoyed: so much so that, the very next day, four Toyota pick-up loads of technicians arrived at my site near Johannesburg; literally panting to commence a much-overdue engine, transmission and undercarriage service. The senior technician took me aside, and seriously begged me not to call his ultimate boss again, as the head of maintenance had been summarily dismissed because he was treating valued customers like crap.
So, last Saturday very, very early in the morning, I was sick as a dog; vomit, loose bowels, head feeling as though as I was about to perish: the lot. No, I don’t drink, it was some sort of a bug. After about two-odd hours of traipsing between the toilet and the sink, I called the NHS helpline on 111; stuttered my way through the interminable questions, all read from a screen by an ‘operator’ (IQ probably in the low 60’s, from his voice and attitude) and eventually progressed to a real qualified nurse, who proceeded to establish what my symptoms were, with of course no small help, from my own description of my ‘feeling really shit’: and reassured me that help would be forthcoming. I was contacted within five minutes by a call-out doctor, who appeared about fifteen minutes later. He gave me a quick check-through, blood-pressure, stethoscope,, asked a few pertinent questions, gave a couple of words of advice, drink lots of fluids, etc., stuck an antiemetic injection into me to stop the vomiting, shook my hand and disappeared. I felt as though I had been hit by a truck for most of the day, but a good night’s sleep brought me back to life, and all seemed well.
As I am from the ‘old school’ who was taught not only how to spell ‘courtesy’ but the true meaning of that (now) truly old-fashioned word, I looked up the contact email address for the North-East NHS 111 service: and shovelled off a small ‘thank-you’ message; just stating how grateful I was for the speedy intercession from their service, signed off and sent it, and thought no more about an action which, to me, was second nature.
Surprise. Received a return message asking me if I would ‘COMPLETE A CONSENT FORM’ (attached), so my small message of commendation might be transmitted to a second group according to the NHS rules on privacy and digital compliance? Can’t they just accept the ‘gratitude’ for doing their jobs well enough to have engendered a message, and leave it at that? I was only surprised that I wasn’t also asked if I considered myself to be Afro-Caribbean/Irish, and how twisted did I consider my sexuality to be?