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Open Letters to Public Services

The past couple of days have been stupidly aggravating, and for once none of the aggravations are work-related... apart from the fact the office is so cold I have bloody frostbite on the backs of my fingers. Or at least something close to it.

I have cut the various letters as per their various recipients, for you to pick and choose as you please.

Dear TWM,

...seriously, do you just know when I'm in a hurry? Can you read my mind or something? Not content with making me late to rehearsal the other week, you lost me an hour and a half of my day yesterday trying to get to my GP surgery and back again. It should not take me that long to get in and out of Kings Heath. What with getting caught at every set of traffic lights on the way out, the black-hole-esque queue of 11's that jumped in front of the approaching 35 (I mean, five in a row is a BIT extreme, don't you think? Aside from the extreme irony of matching the Red Dwarf analogy exactly, was this part of your plan to completely destroy my lunch break?) and then the unprecedented, inexplicable traffic on the way back in again, I might as well have walked. It probably would have been quicker.

I know your boss is the Big Man Downstairs, but I can't think of anything I might have done to offend him. If such is the case I would appreciate written confirmation of exactly what my crime was, so I can avoid doing it in future.

No love,

PS: I'm totally not done with you yet.

Dear NHS,

I know we're in the middle of a recession and times is 'ard. But I really do think you should consider paying your GP surgery receptionists just a teense more. Then they might actually have some modicum of job satisfaction and be remotely helpful.

When I finally managed to get to the surgery yesterday, I did not appreciate having to stand around in reception for several seconds waiting for the receptionist to finish having a conversation and drinking her cup of tea. I also did not appreciate it when, having finally noticed I was standing there, she grudgingly put down said tea and gave me a withering stare, which I took as an indication it was safe to enter her sacred realm.

I'm so terribly sorry I interrupted her hard-earned break, but the world does not stop turning just because the surgery staff are at lunch. In fact, I think you'll probably find the rest of the country are at lunch as well, and most of them are trying to sort things out which they cannot do during their work hours. Free healthcare is for all, not just the unfortunate or unemployed.

I have griped about your delightful receptionists before - having no regard for my being in excruciating pain, or exacerbating the stigma of mental health problems - but unless the situation improves I will be forced to write to you again in similar terms.

Also, whilst I'm at it, SORT YOUR BLOODY ACT OUT WITH REPEAT PRESCRIPTIONS. Ticking one item out of the three on my prescription indicates that I only require that particular item at this particular time. It does not mean that I never want the other two items ever again. SERIOUSLY, THIS IS GETTING STUPID AND I'M TIRED OF HAND-WRITING MY OWN PRESCRIPTIONS.

No love,

Dear NHS,

Yes, I'm writing to you again.

Whilst I mostly do not object to the prescription charge when my healthcare itself is free, for £7.20 I expect a pharmacy assistant (or, indeed, an actual pharmacist, as I don't know who the exact culprit was) who has a basic standard of education. By which I mean they should be able to (a) read, and (b) count.

My name is not, never has been and never will be "Ecca". If the first syllable was too complicated, then I must apologise for my name being so inconvenient, but I didn't choose it.

My prescription clearly states that I need two of the specified articles. You know, two. The next number after "one". Even if we were still in the dark ages before other numbers were invented and counting was achieved via the medium of "one, two, many", supplying two of the items should not have been an issue. Given the fact that the staff member in question could not apparently read, however, I should at least be grateful I got the right medication at all.

The pharmacy manager was equally as exasperated as I was, and deserves a medal for having to put up with this shit. I, on the other hand, merely deserve to BREATHE PROPERLY.

Yours exasperatedly,

Dear Amazon,

Or more specifically, dear random seller on Amazon,

Where oh where is my package? I ordered it last Tuesday. Thankfully I do not require it until Paul's birthday on 1st January, as it is a birthday present, but it has now been over a week. You have taken the money from my account for said present, but of course you have given me no way of tracking the progress of the delivery. You have until Saturday before I complain and demand a refund.

No love,

PS: I know the weather has been shite, but even the actual Amazon order turned up today, finally. Get your frelling act together already.

Dear TWM,

Or more specifically, dear Driver of Number 76 Bus,

I know the shiny new pedestrian crossings at the Howard Road / Alcester Road junction have only been there a matter of months, and things must be very confusing for you as a result. I mean, it's not like you do the route all day, every day or anything. It's not like you don't know your Highway Code. But just in case, I shall clarify something for you.

Red means stop.

Amber means get ready.

Green means go.

This is a simple concept. I can understand how you might have been confused, because there was a green light, it's true. I should further clarify, therefore, the following:-

A big round green light in front of you means go. By contrast, a big round red light in front of you means stop, i.e. do not go, remain still, etc.

A smaller green light shaped like a walking man somewhat to your left or right and below your eye level also means go, but not for you. You should not even be looking there in the first place.

Thank goodness I was paying attention and saw you starting to edge forward, otherwise you would have hit me. And even if you hadn't hit me, one of the other two drivers who ran the red light in the opposite direction would have done, when they presumably followed your stupid example. Beeping me when I have right of way is NOT COOL. You are a tosser. I am almost sorry you didn't hit me, because at least then I could have sued the arse off your employing company and got several grand in compensation.

No love whatsoever,

Just... seriously, universe? Cut it out, already.

I might as well add this one.

Dear Work,


Frozen of Floor 2.

My plan for this evening was to leave work earlyish, go home to get changed, walk to the post depot then bus-hop to Aldi to get some shopping, come home, cook tea, and make a start on my Christmas Boxes for work. Instead, thanks to above-mentioned pharmacy stupidity and horrendous traffic, I merely went to the post depot on the bus (one stop further than home), then dragged my sorry self back to the house, which smells of the fish we ate on Sunday (and bin day isn't til Friday so we have another 24 hours of it to cope with). At this rate the Christmas Boxes won't get done by the 17th, the last day everyone's in before Christmas, but I'm hoping to get a rhythm going once I get started. I've bought all the ribbon now so I need to make them.

Because of the aggravation, Paul went to Sainsbury's instead to get stuff for tea and has put our casserole in the oven. I think if these things happened less close together I would be inifitely better at coping, but my greatest weakness is things beyond my control making my life difficult, especially when they cluster together over the course of several days.

Thankfully I don't have much more shopping to do, though we need to start populating the diary soon...

Anyway, I shall now sign this off because my hands are cold (which has been a theme of the past fortnight). I should probably post a photograph of my minor frostbite at some point, because it's really quite impressive.

Bored of winter now. I can haz spring?


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 8th, 2010 11:28 pm (UTC)
I would highly recommend fingerless gloves from the Spar, at a toasty warm 99p! I bought some mid November and they were so worth it during NaNo. I would also recommend hand cream, doesn't have to be expensive - I have a number of different brands hanging around (I love Dove Intensive Care except it's really pricey), but one of the best and nicest spelling is the Boots own brand in the Essentials range comes in a blue tube (it's not a tube, but what do you call the things hand cream comes in?!) Anyway, smells really nice (of summer I always think). Astral is nice too... smells good, but does remind me a little of sudocrem! Lol! Both these are under £2 iirc.

Anyway, apply the hand cream every time before you leave the house / office and put gloves on - this way your hands get warm and the cream has lots of time to soak in while you're on your journey. Obviously at work it's difficult to apply hand cream often, as you need non-greasy fingers to type! And I've yet to find a hand cream that doesn't leave your hands at least a little greasy. I have the same problem - except not because I'm typing, but you know... I find the solution is to put a little cream on the back of your hands and just rub the backs together, avoiding the (front?) side of your hand / fingers that you need. Then apply the fingerless gloves (not that I do that at work ;))

Yes, I have thought about this a lot. Yes, it comes from a lot of practice - if I didn't look after my hands during winter it would get to the point where I wouldn't be able to work... normally I have at least a degree of dry, red, rashy skin on the back of my hands - this year with the new 'apply hand cream and gloves every time before I leave the house / work' routine, they have been 80% better. I also have cotton gloves I use at night sometimes when the skin is particularly bad.

I guess my top tips for hand care would be:

1) Always rinse your hands properly after washing them - don't leave any soap on the skin as that will further dry it out (also wear washing-up gloves when doing the washing-up / cleaning. Washing-up liquid and particularly household cleaners can be really harsh on your skin. I started wearing washing-up gloves the year I moved above the snowline and haven't looked back. It also allows you to use hotter water to rinse your dishes - good hygiene!! Of course now I have a dishwasher :love: so I've given up washing-up ;)) Oh and also, use warm water for hand washing, not hot and definitely not cold!

2) Always dry your hands absolutely thoroughly - pat dry, don't rub as this causes friction and further damage

3) Apply hand cream regularly - this doesn't have to be expensive, just something that will replace moisture and perhaps more importantly, act as a barrier to the cold when you go outside. (Use the back-to-back method of applying the cream when necessary! :))

4) Always wear gloves outside, even if it's just a quick trip to the local shop with your hands shoved in your pockets - wearing gloves protects your hands from the wind and means you can apply your hand cream without worrying about it transferring to other things like your clothing, bag, shopping

5) If your hands need it, invest in a pair of cotton gloves (or even just cheap thin ordinary gloves) to wear at night. Apply a thick layer of hand cream just before bed and use a hot water bottle to keep your hands warm - warm hands have better blood circulation and so heal faster

Mkay, so apparently I have a lot to say on the subject ;) Hope it helps!

Jaz :)

(Cross-posted to my LJ)
Dec. 9th, 2010 01:29 pm (UTC)
The worst thing is I have been wearing fingerless gloves to type, AND I've been wearing gloves outside (without fail, no exceptions) since about September. Because I don't like having cold hands, obviously. This is the first year they've gone dry and weird, and it's because it's so bloody cold at work.

I did try moisturising them last night (best I could find in absence of handcream) and it STUNG, which wasn't fun. In the end I applied germolene... but yeah, I don't like handcream anyway. As you say, it makes my hands greasy and they are fairly sensitive at the best of times, I dunno, it freaks me out a bit...

AND I always wear rubber gloves to do washing up / cleaning, I had that post-washing-up dryness at the best of times. *cringes*

At this point I am going to get a bloody sick note to be off work, just to make a point. Except it's actually not that much warmer at home. I hate Britain. :P
Dec. 9th, 2010 01:45 pm (UTC)
If you've been doing all that already, the only thing that will really help is the hand cream. We had some free samples at work for something that you can also use as a soap replacement when washing your hands, lots of people at work use it, but I can't remember the name and I can't find mine (I have about 5 different brands, one for every room in the house plus a couple for the different bags I use!)

The stinging is normal when the skin is broken down - mine used to get like that regularly. Some hand creams are better than others - I've got a big tub of Sanctuary stuff from Boots, but I'll not use that when the skin is already irritated, because it stings really bad. Unfortunately there will probably be a little bit of stinging when you apply anything at this stage. But that should ease after a few minutes.

Try E45 - some people say it's not very good because it contains lanolin, but I used to use it all the time - it's quite soothing and doesn't sting.

If you don't like using hand cream during the day, just put it on at night, any extra moisture will help. But in the end it will be a case of either putting up with the hand cream or putting up with the sore hands.

Dec. 9th, 2010 02:01 pm (UTC)
The weird thing is they're not even sore or itchy, just red and dry...

I have Sudocrem at home (which does dry my skin out a bit sometimes after excessive use, but works quicker than Germolene), so I'll try that, too...

The general consensus on Facebook is that Paul should do the washing up for me, though. :D
Dec. 9th, 2010 02:08 pm (UTC)
The general consensus on Facebook is that Paul should do the washing up for me, though.

Well of course! ;)
Dec. 9th, 2010 08:08 pm (UTC)
Aaaand I found it *right* next to where I was sitting. Dermol cream - I don't know if you can get it OTC though...

(Deleted comment)
Dec. 9th, 2010 01:38 pm (UTC)
Feel free. It actually didn't seem as cold here yesterday, but that might be because I've acclimatised... and wouldn't care if work was actually warm. I used to look forward to work being warmer than home, now there is no bloody escape from the cold. Meh.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )


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T'eyla Minh

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