You would think that in these Covid days people would try to be compassionate and helpful; that despite the illegal raves which inexplicably still occur, despite the crowded beaches and the selfishness of the maskless, paid staff would be going out of their way to be helpful. Such has been my experience in general: supermarket staff, whilst shielding themselves, have welcomed me to the store and stood armed with sanitising sprays and gels should I wish to avail myself thereof. They have been chatty and ready to direct me to any aisle I wish. Likewise NHS staff; though tired and overworked, they have been generally friendly, helpful and apologetic about not letting visitors onto the wards.
Not so yesterday. I got the call about midday to pick up a friend from the Royal as they were being discharged. So after a hasty lunch I jumped in the car and put the satnav app on my phone as Leicester seems to change its road systems on a weekly basis. Half a mile down the road there were a couple of insistent phone calls from said friend so I pulled over to phone them back. A nurse told me not to go to the main entrance but to Gate 9 which is just before it. Fine. No problem. I put the phone down again and set off. A few yards later there was a thunk and my phone had disappeared. I pulled in again to look for it. Nope, it was invisible. Not on the seat, not on the floor, not in my bag. I got out, pulled back both seats and ferreted about underneath. Nothing. Curiouser and curiouser, I thought. Well, there was nothing for it but to drive on. I put the car in gear and pulled out, enshrouded in a sense of deep mystery. Where the hell was my phone? Where could it have gone? Half a mile later a slightly muffled voice proceeding from the depths of the car told me ‘at the roundabout, take the second exit onto A6.’ How are you doing this? I yelled at it. Where are you? But answer came there none. At the next traffic lights I heard it again and finally located it wedged in the tiniest gap between the seat and the handbrake. How the hell had it managed that?
I arrived in Leicester and in the middle of doing one of the twiddly bits needed to get to the hospital I let someone pull out in front. I immediately regretted this as the person then drove at fifteen miles per hour, slowing down frequently and giving no indication of what the hell they were up to. A theme was emerging to the day and a sense of doom began to settle in my stomach. I found the right road: good. I finally managed to get past the ditherer in front; better. But could I find Gate 9? I could not. So I pulled into the main car park and set off to find it on foot. The good news: I found it. The bad news: I’d have to go round the block again. This I did, and finally pulled into Gate 9. But even though this is where I’d been told to come all the bays were either disabled or ambulance. What to do? Eventually I decided that since the person I was collecting had mobility problems I was probably OK in a disabled space. I got out of the car feeling somewhat frazzled only to be accosted by a man in a mask. ‘Didn’t you see the sign?’ he demanded, pointing to a sign that said ‘staff only.’ I explained that I was here to pick up a disabled patient and that I’d been told to come here. ‘Who told you?’ he demanded. ‘A nurse,’ I replied, feeling somewhat hot under the collar at all this hostility. ‘Nurses! They don’t know anything!’ he retorted, at which I began to walk off, seriously hoping my friend would be ready and waiting so I wouldn’t have to deal with any more of this. Fortunately he was, but the guy didn’t stop. ‘You’ll get a ticket,’ he warned me. ‘What should I do then?’ I demanded. ‘Back up into one of the other spaces?’
‘I’m not going to be responsible for you backing up,’ he said belligerently. By this time I’d had enough; I wanted to get my friend in the car and get out of there. But he wasn’t done. Having spotted my friend with a couple of nurses he strode over to give them a hard time as well, presumably telling them they had no business asking me to park there. If I’d had any presence of mind I’d have got his name and job title; then I’d have put in a complaint. But as it is…(cue fanfare)
…the 2020 Jobsworth Award for the least helpful and most bureaucratic member of NHS staff goes to… Man in Car Park at Gate 9, LRI. Whoever you are, Man in Car Park, you made a difficult day harder and upset a volunteer driver and two hardworking nurses. Get a life.
Gosh, that feels better.