Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Taking Responsibility

Yesterday I left the house wearing what turned out to be inappropriate footwear, covered in the alluring smell of Deep Heat, and with a slightly out of date microwave meal in my bag. In this manner I set myself up for A Good Day, if by ‘good’ you mean ‘irritating’.

The casual reader might think my own incompetence set me up for a fall, but I would counter that with another point – everyone is stupid except me.
Well, maybe not everyone, but a significant portion of the people I have to deal with on a daily basis.

Of course when I say ‘deal with’, what I mean is ‘attempt to contact in vain via a third party’. The flat I currently share with three other struggling artists is ostensibly let to us by an agency, but when things go wrong they don’t send a maintenance person, they refer it to the landlord. Who does nothing.

On Monday I called about the boiler (broken for just under a month) and the downstairs intercom (broken for over a year) for the nth time. “That’s not very good is it,” said the woman on the phone sympathetically, “I’ll send an email to the landlord straight away.”

Because as we know, people are brilliant at reading and responding to emails. I’m certainly not surprised or unreasonably grateful when I come across someone who not only replies to messages but actually reads and digests the content therein. And our landlord must be the crème de la crème of those email reading people, the evidence speaks for itself! (/sarcasm, as we say here on the internet.)

Part of the reason I rang again was because I was due to despatch my sister to the local post office to pick up a third batch of Christmas shopping the postie couldn’t deliver (owing to the broken buzzer). You might argue that I shouldn’t be buying presents online when there’s only a 40/60 chance they’ll actually get delivered first time, but it’s not like I can just pop into Etsy for a look round.

There were four items to collect, but just for a giggle the Royal Mail decided they were only going to send one from the depot. The post office then claimed that I should have filled in the online redelivery form four times, one for each package.
If that were true (which it isn’t; I picked up three things after one form filling exercise only last Saturday) they should have given me four cards and four reference numbers to type in. Which I wouldn’t have done, incidentally, because the four bus trip across to the outskirts of Edinburgh to the depot - although massively inconvenient - works out cheaper.

Anyway, my inclination at this point was to shout at someone, but a) I was at work and b) finding direct contact details on the Royal Mail website is some sort of creative thinking challenge, so I filled out their generic online form. Because we all know people read emails properly and consider all the information therein…

I won’t lie, I found this un resolution unsatisfactory. So unsatisfactory that I found myself becoming the impotent emailer I previously derided, sending stiff notes first to the letting agency to follow up on Monday’s call, then the Palmolive corporation about a complaint I made several months ago.

By the time I’d made my three separate cases of mild annoyance I was so incensed that my damp feet in their inappropriate shoes dried off and the Deep Heat on my back began to work afresh, wafting round the office and putting colleagues in mind of old sports injuries.

And so it was that the annoyingness of other people helped me move on from my own cack handedness. Personal responsibility, who needs it.

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