Friday, 25 September 2009

Sub-Standard Services Vs Retail Therapy

Today is my “Work Life Balance” day (or “hippy day” as one friend likes to call it) which means… no work. Aaah, bliss!
Having had an early night, I wake up refreshed at around 8am. The bright autumnal sunlight filters into my boudoir. Life feels good. Although tempted to stay put, I get up and get ready for my day. I have five things to do on my mental “to do” list - pick up a parcel from the local delivery office, go to the hospital for an “open appointment”, take advantage of 20% off at Long Tall Sally (fashion Mecca for any woman over 5’9’’), start my blog (ta-dah!) and go to college.
So, plugged into my handy it-does-everything phone I tune into Amy Winehouse (very “London”) and head out.
The local Royal Mail Delivery Office is surprising quiet - there’s only one person ahead of me in the queue. Result. Optimistically I hand over my “Sorry we missed you” postcard and ID. The man behind the counter disappears to retrieve my package. He looks a little frayed. Poor chap.
Several minutes pass. Poor Chap hasn’t come back yet. A queue is forming behind me. I make impatient noises.
Finally he returns. He has my postcard, but no package. He sighs.
“I’m afraid the person who delivered your parcel was doing overtime so your parcel has been sent back to Bow.”
I blink. This is not the first time my post has gone astray. I remain calm.
“So what happens now?”
Another sigh.
“The best thing I can do is take a copy of this and your number and we’ll give you a call when it gets back here.”
He looks gingerly at me through his bushy eyebrows. He’s clearly nervous.
“Well, what should I do if I don’t hear from you?”
“You can try calling customer services…”
I’m not convinced, but ask for the number anyway. I’ve dealt with their customer services before. It was not a good experience. I ask for a pen to write down the number. Someone in the queue behind me tuts impatiently. I ignore them.
“I’m very sorry about this.”
I do feel for Poor Chap. He has clearly been in this position before. But I can’t let him off completely.
“I know it’s not your fault, but this has happened to me before. And it really is dire.”
I defiantly walk out of the office empty handed. Hmm. Not a great start.
20 minutes later I’m at the hospital reception desk clutching my “open appointment” letter. I’m feeling confident that I will get on better here.
“Hello, I saw your consultant here a few months ago and he told me to come back once I had had some tests done and gave me this letter to bring with me”.
The guy behind the desk takes my letter with an air of scepticism and skims it over. He snorts.
“This doesn’t mean you can see him today, you have to have an appointment.”
“But he gave me an open appointment! He told me to come back any Friday…”
“An open appointment doesn’t mean you can just come in and see someone. You have to phone up to make an appointment!”
It’s my turn to sigh.
“Well… can I make an appointment now?”
He sighs back and logs into his computer. I’m annoyed. He clearly thinks I’m an idiot.
“The doctor did tell me just to come back with this letter you know.”
He glances up at me from his screen, one eyebrow raised.
“Next appointment is 5th February.”
I gasp.
“Isn’t there one before then?”
“Well, that will have to do then.”
He fills in my appointment card whilst I mutter to my self about having to wait another 5 months and it being a good job it isn’t fatal. He gives me my appointment card.
“I’ll destroy this one for you.”
He waves my “open appointment” letter over the bin. He clearly thinks I’m capable of trying to pull this stunt again. Damn it.
“Will I get another appointment letter in the post?”
Satisfied, I march out of the hospital to the tube station in need of some retail therapy. At Baker Street, the sun is shining. I head down to LTS and pick up a mountain of clothes to try on. I ask the shop assistant if she has one of the skirts in the catalogue in. She says she has.
“What size? 10? 12?”
I laugh and tell her at least a 14 and am secretly flattered when she looks back at me surprised. Nothing like a bit of ego stroking to make me flex my credit card!
Several changes later I choose a couple of tops that will do nicely for work. Nothing inspirational, but certainly satisfactory. I am thankful I live relatively close to the store - there’s only a handful in the country. Yet another benefit of living in London.
I walk down Baker Street and pop into Accessorise for a last minute gift. Fighting through a gaggle of tourists I finally get out of the shop and hop on the bus to Euston, where I go to M&S to pick up something for dinner. The concourse is packed with suits grabbing a quick bite to eat and a few rays of September sun. The atmosphere is energetic yet relaxed.
By the time I get home I’m feeling content. A successful shopping trip has balanced the frustrations of this morning. And, as I cross off job number 4 on my “to do” list, I can relax until heading out for college in a couple of hours. Where else in the country are there so many evening courses to choose from, catering for every whim, time table and budget?

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