Tuesday, 23 November 2010

A Comedy Of Errors

This could only happen to me.

It all started with a broken wheel. Right hand side at the front of the chair. Something had gone badly awry, and the whole wheel and castor was swinging off at wild angles. It looked like Eduardo's leg must have done when Sky refused to show it following THAT injury at Birmingham a couple of years ago.

Having nearly fallen down the toilet and crashed into a wall outside the office, I made the emergency call. Very kindly, the NHS pays for a company to come out and service and repair chairs when needed. All of which sounds good, but it doesn't always work out how you might expect. Last time I dealt with them they insisted on taking my chair away with them for two days because they couldn't provide something as simple as a ball-bearing. Anyway, choice is not something I am blessed with in this matter, so I arranged for them to come out to see me at work this morning.

The traditional thirty minutes after the agreed time they managed to do this. I was contacted from the security desk downstairs (we work on the third floor of our building) and told them that I would be down shortly. Except I wouldn't. Seemingly at that precise moment, and with a beautiful irony the likes of which I have never seen, BOTH lifts on the third floor stopped working.

Absolutely in no way panicking I reported this to the security desk. They never let the facts get in the way, so they informed me that one of the lifts was still operational. It wasn't. I tried again. It wasn't. I rang back to inform them of this and they finally agreed to 'send someone up'. A few minutes later, someone came up offering to lift me down the stairs to meet the chair mechanic. I declined, and instead a colleague was kind enough to go downstairs and ask him to come up to our office. At this point the mechanic informed me that I had a pin missing from my front caster, and that he didn't have one with him. Of course he didn't. Why would he when I reported to him yesterday that the caster was swinging away from it's normal position and that something in it would probably need replacing, if not the whole thing?

He took the chair away and I carried on working. No chair, no lifts, third floor. The only usable disabled toilets are on the ground floor. I was reminded of that scene from Phoenix Nights in which Brian gets stuck at the top of the stairs because his stairlift is broken. Gerry comes in and asks him what the smell is, and he says 'never mind that smell, I've been stuck up here all night!' A mercifully short 10 minutes later the man returned with the chair. Lo and indeed behold he had found a pin that earlier he definitely hadn't got.

So with the chair sorted I could now go to the gents at least. But lunch? I was living the dream if I thought I was going to be able to go out and get some lunch. Another kind colleague finally had to go downstairs and pick me up a sandwich from the canteen (I bet you can't guess which floor that is on?). The lifts are still not working as I write, although one or two colleagues say they have at least now seen men working on them. Earlier reports that they would be here to do it within half an hour of my reporting it proved to be somewhat exaggerated.

My boss has just asked whether I want to go home now, because there is no guarantee that the lift will be fixed today or that the relevant people will be around to assist me down the stairs at the normal finishing time of 4.30pm if it is not. I have declined this kind offer because I'd rather spend the afternoon doing my job and give myself the opportunity to eventually go downstairs safely and in comfort, than suffer the indignity now for the sake of a couple of hours off. If it is not fixed by 4.30 then it's the evac chair I suppose, but no need to do anything as rash as that just now. It's finally lunchtime, just in case she's wondering what I'm doing telling you this story right now. She might read. Apparently it wouldn't be the first time.

I really need a wee now.

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