Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Britney's Mascara

Oops, I ...

We went to Comedy Camp last night, mostly to see Ida Barr, although my Lovely Husband™ had to leave before she came on. However, we did very much enjoy the first three acts together, and then I made friends with a couple of nice ladies at the bar for the rest of the evening, so I didn't feel like Norman No Mates.

That was just some background for a rather embarrassing incident. I was at the bar trying to get served during one of the intervals. There was a very pretty girl next to me, and it looked like her mascara had run. Ever the friendly, helpful person that I like to be, I pointed this out to her. Whereupon she explained that it was a birthmark. Oh, the ground could have opened up and swallowed me hole. And the rest of me. I apologised, and said that I now felt really bad for having said anything. She said that she is used to it. She often gets women coming up to her in the toilets and trying to wipe it off for her. I apologised again, and said I just thought she had been laughing so much that it had run.

You know, you try to do a good deed, and sometimes it just comes back and bites you on the bum.

And on that very subject ...

At The Magic Circle this week, Ali Bongo mentioned a request he had received for volunteers to perform at a Christmas party for HIV/AIDS patients and their families and friends at one of the big London hospitals. I promptly put myself forward, and gave the organiser a call yesterday morning. He asked if it would be possible for me to come in some time and meet him and his colleagues, and since I have a lot of time on my hands at the moment, I arranged it for that very afternoon.

So, off I toddle at the appointed hour. Get there, have the meeting, discuss how I perform, what the composition of the audience will be, what kind of material will be suitable, etc. All in all, it went very well. I think they're delighted at the prospect of having a gay magician to perform for them. Obviously, I did a couple of effects to show them what I do.

I left feeling very happy, and decided to pay a visit to the cardiac outpatients part of the hospital. My family has a congenital heart condition (dilated cardiomyopathy), and we have been part of a long-term study of the condition for a number of years. Since most of my family live in Scotland, a team from the hospital have travelled up to Glasgow and carried out tests there. Since I was living in London at the time, I've been along to the hospital several times to have tests. All okay, I hasten to add. Anyway, there was a recent round of tests on members of my family, and I had been meaning to ring the hospital to find out whether I should be arranging to come in and have a seeing to. I thought, and not unreasonably, that it would make sense to pop in and find out.

Along the way, a very helpful staff member gave me directions because she thought I looked a bit lost. Already, I'm developing a strong sense of a well-organised, service-oriented organisation.

Then I got to the reception desk for cardiac outpatients, and that impression was destroyed.

There were two women behind the desk. I approached. One of them looked up, so I smiled. She said, "It's no good smiling at me, it's her you want to talk to" (indicating the other women).

So I approached the other women. I explained that my family had been having tests and I wanted to find out whether I should make an appointment to come in for some, too.

"You can't just walk in here and make an appointment, you know. It doesn't work like that."

I explained that I appreciated that, but that my family were having tests, and I'd come in to the hospital several time before.

"You know, if you can't even tell me the name of who is doing these tests, then there is nothing I can do."

I explained that they were tests for dilated cardiomyopathy, and reiterated that my family was in the process of being tested, and that I had been for the tests at the hospital before, expecting that she would ask for my name, look up my details on the computer, and sort something out. Indeed, she was tapping away on her computer. For several minutes. Whilst I stood there. Waiting.

Twice, people approached the desk, and she looked up, "Can I help you?" and dealt with them. She never once even glanced at me, and I was standing right in front of her. After four or five minutes of being pointedly ignored, I walked away, fuming.

I'm sorry, but that woman should not have that job. There was no point arguing the toss with her there, because those kind of people know that if you lose the rag with them, they win. They make me sick.

So what I'm going to do instead is to write a very strong letter of complaint. And if I do get to see the professor who runs the study into my family's condition, I will complain to him, too. It might also help that one of the directors of the hospital also used to be a director of the first company I worked for, so I could reasonably CC my letter of complaint to her. I want to take that receptionist down!

You may ask what I expected. I expect to be treated like a human being. I was well-mannered and friendly in my approach when I spoke to the woman. I expect the same courtesy in return. I didn't receive it. She is a receptionist. I expect, therefore, that if someone comes in who doesn't have the full detail necessary to progress their request, that the receptionist should do what they can to help - look up records on the computer, ask questions to help find either useful information or to identify someone who can help (what is the study about, when did you last get tested). Instead, I was met with a work-shy, jobsworth disdain. How very dare she!


Jay said...

I think you should most definitely lodge a formal complaint. Of course, it's quite likely that nothing will come out of it - people like that usually only behave that way because they know they can get away with it - but at least someone will be aware of it.

You should have lit up one of your business cards and set her hair on fire.

First Nations said...

oh yes. do exactly that, and good for you!

seconding the flaming business card suggestion as well. fire is fun.

frobisher said...

Yes, get the bitch sacked. Mind you I do feel sorry for people that have to deal with the public for their job, the majority of whom are scum.

The Lady Muck said...

grrrrr bloody jobsworths. I take it she didn't realise that you were taking part in a medical trial - the kind that is usually geared towards finding things that help people stay out of hospital. Silly moo.

Dan Project 76 said...

One of these days a bereaved relative is going to knock the hospital bitch out.

Qenny said...

jay: I hope I still have enough anger left by Friday to write a complaining letter. I won't get a chance before then.

She'd have gone up like a roman candle if I'd done a flaming business card at her. I got a serious whiff of Silvikrin.

first nations: Fire is fun. I have to be careful, otherwise my lust for it would consume me. Back in my teenage years, I used to set huge fires of toilet tissue, and then flush and watch it all disappear, lauhing like a maniac at the power I had over such a strong elemental force. Or summat.

frobisher: I feel sorry for people who have to deal with unpleasant members of the public. What really gets me is that I'm unfailingly polite and friendly in such circumstances, so being met with such contempt is all the more difficult to stomach.

the lady muck: I tried explaining that, but her mind was so closed. It was as if I had to say the correct combination of words to make her open up. And I didn't know them. And she wasn't in any hurry to help me find them.

dan project 76: Or she herself will be diagnosed with my family's heart condition, and will then repent of having turned away a possible source of insight into how to deal with it. Bwahahahah!

Sorry, the maniacal laughter wasn't stricly necessary, but it felt good.

Da Nator said...

Maniacal laughter is quite possibly even more fun than than fire.

Incidentally, terrible service is quite the plague in most doctor's offices and hospitals in the US. I think because of the high operating costs they will only pay so much to the office staff, and thus end up hiring the mentally instable and deficient. Most clinics one goes to are staffed by very snotty teenagers and/or cranky hags, and at the gay clinic they're vicious drama queens, to boot. (As you may be able to tell, I have some experience, here). The level of treatment you get corresponds directly with the amount of money you can pay. I am personally fortunate that rather good insurance has allowed me to see top doctors for my recent surgery, at least.

Blah, blah, blah... I'm sorry for what happened and go hit her with a stick!

Hanuman1960 said...

Get her Qenny dahling!!!

Keep us posted if you get a reply!

BEAST said...

Its such a shame more of us dont live in london , as we could pop in and beseige the miserable trollop with inceasingly wierd requests.
You need to get one of those turds in a box they used to sell in the private eye ads , that has a card stuck in it saying 'somebody somewhere thinks your a shit'

JP said...

It's enough to give you a heart complaint!

Megan said...

I like your picture jp.
Recepitonist at doctors ask confusing questions and expect you to know.