Thursday, 16 June 2011

Bad letter day…

My Postman is as blind as a f**king Bat and although his misreading of envelope addresses has never caused me a direct problem in seven years, last week this Elysium all changed and the effect has been affective, to say the least. It all started when I became aware I hadn’t received any mail through my letterbox for nearly a week and yet, I knew my quarterly bills should have arrived and added to my current money woes. Now, whether it’s my latest six-page BT bill full of hidden charges or it happens to be British Gas’ reams of electrical extortion matters not one iota: the simple fact is my personal expenditure is processed and sent out to me on paper, in order for moi to settle the debts as these monopolising conglomerates expect their pound(s) of flesh, regardless of excuses.

So, while I ruminated over the above mentioned Shylocks, I continued about my everyday business and kept up to date with the wayward bills by checking the balances online. Over last weekend just gone, I’d had to pop out to a local supermarket and it was during the picking-up of a basket that I felt a prod in my shoulder from behind. Rising upwards in a surprised jolt, which snapped me from humming along to Electronics’ Get the Message my MP3 player was nosily pumping into my aural canals, I came face-to-face with one of my elderly neighbours, a man of eighty-three called Ted.

‘Alright Ted,’ I said a little louder than usual, due to him being partially deaf and me still fumbling at the MP3 earplugs. ‘Everything okay, is it?’

Smiling at me, Ted started to speak. ‘I’m just letting you know that our Postman has dropped a bullock with your letters,’ came out of his mouth and I immediately found myself trying not to laugh at the colourful language from a bygone age. ‘I caught the bugger trying to force a packet through my letterbox, so I opened the door and when he gave me the packet, it had your name on the outside, it did that!’ was accompanied with a bemused smile and shake of Ted’s head to emphasis the idiocy of the Postman in question.

I nodded back in agreement as I spoke, ‘Has he done it again? I had to chase him last week because he’d put a letter through my door which was meant to be delivered to someone in Chadderton and not Royton! I think he’s a bit long-sighted, Ted, that’s why he wears those half-moon glasses for reading the letters’ writing,’ I said, thankful to actually find out there was a problem with my mail all along.

‘”A bit long-sighted” you say? He’s a blind pillock, that’s what he is!’ was uttered by Ted with enough venom for me to release this may have happened on more than one occasion. ‘Anyhow, just thought I’d let you know I’ve got that packet at my house for you, okay?’ I nodded at this and made ready to make my excuses and get to buy some daily gruel with my pittance when Ted delivered the icing on the postage cake, ‘but when I told him you lived in the next block, the bloody fool shook his head and said, “Shit! I’ve just posted another couple of letters through next door which were meant for him then!”’

I squinted at this statement as I realised the package Ted had of mine was a TV aerial I’d bought off eBay and the other letters must be another two things from eBay as well. ‘Er, well why was he trying to push my package through your door then if he’d already put another two of my letters through your neighbour’s door?!’ I said as I felt my shopping trip slip into a hiatus.

Ted laughed as he spoke, ‘You’ll like this one, he said “I was only pushing the package through your door because your neighbour wasn’t in and I thought it was her package to begin with!” We both stared at each other, trying to fathom the logic in the Postman’s illogical statement.

After a couple of seconds analysing this utterance, I stated the most obvious fact: ‘But if he couldn’t get my package through her letterbox, why was he trying to force it through and into your flat?’

‘Well, it makes you think, doesn’t it? Why? Because he’s a bleeding moron, that’s why?!’ Ted took great pleasure in saying this and we both laughed together as we pictured this poor unfortunate Postman, whose whole job relied upon his failing eyesight. ‘So, I’ve got your package at mine but there’s still the couple of letters he’s posted through Betty’s flat next door,’ and I nodded to Ted as I recognised Betty’s name, sure this wouldn’t be too much of a problem to rectify. That over-confident thought was proved wrong in a nanosecond. ‘The trouble now, see, is that Betty’s moved out of her flat and moved into her new house with her new bloke Jim.’ said Ted, staring at me for an indication of what to do next.

‘I’ll give the Council a bell and someone will have to pop around with the spare set of keys before they let it back out, yeah?’ left my mouth and immediately Ted was already shaking his head.

‘Betty owned the flat, it’s private and it’s now up for sale, so it’s standing empty with no-one in it,’ and with this, a light bulb went off in my mind: I remembered seeing the ‘For Sale’ sign being erected just the other day on the main road and wondering to myself which idiot had paid their own money to buy their Council flat in my block. Now I knew the answer and the answer was proving to be detrimental to my personal wellbeing.

‘Oh... that’s er... Shit!’ left my mouth as it slowly dawn upon me that I may be in for a long wait for the arrival of my other two eBay items and it may even be quicker to buy them again in the interim. ‘Look, thanks for letting me know, Ted and I’ll pick the package you’ve got at your flat later, alright?’ The brevity of the situation began to sink in as I weighed up that I’d have to purchase the two items again on my use-only-in-an-emergency 39% APR Capital One credit card (blacklisted, yeah?!), not really a tempting option.

‘No worries, and if Betty turns up, I’ll collar her for your other stuff. I’ve popped a note through telling her to post them into mine anyway, just in case we all miss one another, okay?’ Ted said and I thanked him for his time, before turning with my basket towards the aisles to try and salvage some brain cells from imploding in order to follow my scrawled shopping list. Later on that day, I picked up my TV aerial from Ted’s flat and then knocked on Betty’s front door, but didn’t receive an answer, so returned home and slowly forgot about this Postman-induced fiasco over the next couple of days.

Then, on Wednesday just gone, I went to open my front door during the morning and lo and behold, a pile of letters was waiting for me at the back of the front door. I knew instinctively they were my long-lost eBay items which had been in enforced rendition at Betty’s flat, but I counted three letters and not just the two I had been expecting from my online buying spree. A quick flick of the third envelope’s gummed corner, an inserted fingertip and then a drag-along resulted in an open letter, which was unfolded and rapidly appraised, though the ‘NHS’ letterhead gave away its contents before my eyes had finished.

In previous blog entries, I have written about having swollen Parotid glands at the back of my jaw line - see "A trip to the Doctors... pt 1" and "A trip to the Doctors... pt 2" for more details - and have had hospital appointments in the past with specialists. Now, the last time I was seen happened to be this time last year and I was due to have a check-up in December, 2010; this appointment was cancelled sometime in August last year and I received a new hospital appointment for the 6th of June, 2011 (D-Day indeed!), which due to being nearly a year away, I completely forgot about. The letter I held in my hands was a reminder dated the 31st of May, 2011 letting me know of my imminent specialist hospital appointment coming in the next seven days... only I was reading the letter on the 8th of June, which was now two days past my scheduled appointment!

I’d waited nearly a year for another NHS check-up and now because of a half-blind, simple-skulled Royal Mail employee I had missed the most important date on my calendar this year. I telephoned the NHS central switchboard and had to wait an eternity, during which time I became slowly aware that a new appointment may not be an easy adjustment; and once my call was answered by a female-sounding voice of such banal monotony, this inkling became immediately apparent.

No matter how I tried to make clear the mix-up to this disembodied woman, my explanation fell on deaf, uninterested ears and no matter whether I was jovially voiced or silently reserved, the outcome was always going to be the same, regardless.

‘The next available appointment we have is the 24th of November, 2011,’ was a rhetorical statement delivered by the voice of a soulless office drone.

Silence.

I burst out laughing. ‘What?! Are you joking?! That’s another five months off, which will mean it’ll be...’ I paused slightly as I added up the intervening gap between my hospital visits, ‘... nearly eighteen months since I’ve had a specialist look at my f**king glands! I might be dead and buried before I get my neck area prodded again by someone who knows what they’re doing!’

Silence again.

‘Do you want to book this appointment, yes or no?!’ said the now obviously annoyed voice of the woman on the other end of the telephone, ‘I’ve got another call, yes or no?!’

I let out a sigh and as I shook my head, I spoke, ‘Yes, I want to book it,’ and then out of guilt for swearing in a fury, I offered the woman a concession. ‘Er... sorry for getting annoyed. I mean, you must have to deal with this type of thing all the time working there, yeah?’

Silence once more.

‘The appointment is Thursday the 24th of November, at 2.00pm,’ she barked out across the telephone line and before I could answer, the receiver went down and the dialling tone sounded in my ear; it was the only way she could tell me to f**k off due to the conversation being recorded for training purposes, no doubt.

So, that’s that then - another five months to wait before I’m checked over for an ongoing complaint that makes me look like a Hamster with its cheeks stuffed with nuts on a bad day! A word of warning: If you have a Postman who’s just started wearing glasses recently and you’ve spotted squinting at envelopes, trying to make sense of the written word adorning their fronts, make sure you stay close to him on his rounds; this way, you might be able to avoid a similar fate to mine by acting as a f**king guide Dog for Royal Mail’s finest...

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