The Power Of A Potato

, , , , , , | Hopeless | October 16, 2017

I’m sharing this, not to show off about how generous I am, but how broken the system is, and how easily well-meaning people can fall through the cracks. This is a message to encourage people to keep an eye out and try to be helpful where you can.

Recently, my wife was admitted to a National Health Service hospital with pneumonia. She’s also eight months pregnant, so it’s all a bit stressful, and we’re hoping the baby hasn’t been affected in any way by the pneumonia, or by its treatment. I visit her after work to take her a few items from home and to speak to her doctor. She’s going to be in for a few days, at least. We also discuss whether she should transfer to a private hospital, as we have private medical insurance.

By the time we decide on what’s happening, it’s nearly 9:00 pm, and I’ve not eaten since midday. My wife sends me down to the cafeteria to get some dinner before they close. In the line behind me is a boy of no more than 11, wearing the uniform of a local primary school, who is doing the same thing. He chooses a cheap sandwich, and looks enviously at my jacket potato with chicken curry. I pay, and move to sit down, but hear behind me that the card the boy is trying to pay with has been declined. It’s at this point I notice there’s only one other table occupied in the cafeteria, by a group of off-duty nurses. This kid is on his own.

He reaches into his pocket to look for change. He has about fifteen pence. By the time he goes to find his parents and comes back, the cafeteria will be shut. Of course, I offer to pay. The poor kid is crying, trying to refuse. The lady running the cafeteria only cares about closing up. I ask if there’s any chance of a cheap jacket potato for the lad, as they’re only going to be thrown out anyway.

“The prices are up there,” she says, pointing at the menu board.

“Fine,” I say to the lady. I turn to the boy and ask, “Chicken curry, or beans and cheese?”

“Beans and cheese, I guess,” he mumbles, tears clearing.

Of course, he’s wary of strangers, as he should be, but I ask him to sit with me. I guess I’m feeling helpless, not being able to do anything for my wife and unborn child, so I’m trying to help in any way I can. After a few bites of potato and a gulp of soda, he tells me that his mum is in the hospital for a second night in a row. None of the family that were supposed to help look after him have turned up, so he’ll be sleeping in the chair by her bed again, and going to school in a dirty uniform again. And of course, he’s worried sick about his mum. This is ridiculous.

I go back with the boy to the ward his mother is on. She is worried, as she just sent him down to grab a sandwich, and he’s been gone about half an hour. I explain what happened, and she tries to pay me back, almost ripping her IV cannula out as she stretches around looking for her purse.

“No need, no need, please!” I protest. She eventually relents, and looks drained from the effort. I have no idea what’s wrong with her, and don’t want to ask. Given the ward she’s on, I doubt it’s life-threatening, but it doesn’t look like fun, in any case. I convince her to make social services aware of her son’s predicament, and ask the ward sister why they hadn’t done so already. They blame shift changes, foreign and new staff not knowing procedures etc.

Eventually, they contact the out-of-hours social services, who promise to send someone home with the boy to get a clean uniform, and to chase up the family for somewhere for him to stay. I tried calling to find out what happened, but of course they couldn’t discuss it with me. I hope it all worked out okay for them.

And in case you’re interested, yes, my wife and baby were fine. A beautiful girl, induced a few days later, and a few weeks early, but absolutely perfect.

My Relationship With This Bank Is Over(Draft)

, , , , | Working | October 16, 2017

(Due to a bank error, an incorrectly charged fee, I have an overdraft fee on my account. They reverse the incorrect fee they charged, but not the overdraft. I call to have that fixed.)

Employee: “Well, if you had more money, it wouldn’t have been an issue in the first place.”

(She eventually reversed it, but I still went in a few days later to close out the account. I’m not going to deal with a bank or its employees who seem to think overdraft fees for their errors are okay.)

Fifty Proof Leads To Fifty Dollars

, , , , , | Right | October 11, 2017

(A patient is getting ready for discharge and needs prescriptions. A bunch of us call and make sure we can find the cheapest prices in town. This is not an easy task, as there are quite a lot of them. While at the nurses’ station, I hear this exchange:)

Nurse: “Ma’am, this is your discharge paperwork. Here are the prescriptions your doctor talked to you about. We found them cheapest at [Pharmacy] for you; it should only run you about $50. Do you have any questions?”

Patient: “I can’t afford no $50.”

(Everyone looks dumbfounded, because her extremely expensive alcoholism is what brought her in in the first place.)

Nurse: “Well, that’s the cheapest they come, and if you don’t take them, you may end up back in the hospital.”

Patient: “That don’t matter; the government will pay for that.”

Nurse: “Still, it’s not good for your health.”

Patient: *now yelling at all the nurses present* “Y’all can’t all just pitch in and give me the $50?”

(She stayed at the nurses station for an hour until one of the nurses nearly wrote her a check out of annoyance. That poor woman. Eventually, security had to be called.)

A Penny Dreadful

, , , , | Right | October 11, 2017

(I work in a campsite general store. A camper comes in and picks up a quarter-pound of loose-leaf tea and brings it to the counter.)

Me: “That will be £1.11.”

Customer: “£1.11! It’s 95 pence where I come from!”

Me: “Well, you should have stayed there.”

Divorcing Yourself From The Blame

, , , | Working | October 11, 2017

(It’s Monday morning and I ring my boss.)

Me: “Morning, [Boss]. I just wanted to let you know we’re running very low on change.”

Boss: “I thought there was about £120 in the till?”

Me: “There is, but £100 is in twenties, and the rest in small silver. No pound coins, no fives, no tens; I can’t give change.”

Boss: *furious* “How did this happen? Why was it left like this? Why wasn’t I told?!”

Me: “No idea, I’ve been on holiday for the past week. This is my first day back.”

Boss: *even more cross* “I should have been informed; this shouldn’t have happened!! Who worked the last shift?!”

Me: “Your wife…”

Boss: *pause* “Okay, tell me what you need.”

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