So we are in the queue at the Post Office. Not all the work stations are manned and there are over 20 people ahead of us. Above an impressive row of digital machinery (for customer use) a red light gleams and the screens all read ‘server down’.
We agree that my wife will wait to be served whilst I do the weekly grocery shop elsewhere. Queuing for the chips in WW II the air would have been full of cheerful banter. There is a weary silence here.
On my return the queue now extends into Horsham’s Carfax and a Post Office employee marshalls the crowd and murmurs words of encouragement.
Well Christmas is coming, you expect them to be busy, don’t you?
Yes, but when the GPO was a public service we used to set up temporary sorting offices in the local Drill Hall and pay students like me a bob or two to help out.
In these days of food banks and night shelters are we to believe no-one would welcome even temporary work? Now it’s the free market innit? ‘Public services bad, private companies good’.
Market forces you see, they balance demand and supply automatically and efficiently so everybody’s happy and we have stability and growth (?).
Certainly shareholders are happy, the government having offloaded any responsibility, are happy. Senior managers are probably happy, employees pelting their trolleys round the streets like rickshaw boys seem cheerful enough, but customers?
Would it not be more accurate to see shareholders as the real recipients of any ‘care’?
So I decided to have a satisfying whinge in print rather than air my grievance over the phone. Like as not some metallic voice would have advised me ‘we are experiencing unprecedented demand currently and will be with you as soon as possible.
Meanwhile thankyou for your patience, you are moving forward in the queue’.
Tell me, why is it that the (private) service sector feels such a need to keep reassuring us how important we are to them, and that their first concern is for us?
If that were true wouldn’t it be obvious from the service we received?
Richmond Road, Horsham