Daily obstacles show just why Britain isn’t working
PUBLISHED: 18:22 27 November 2019 | UPDATED: 18:30 27 November 2019
Scam calls, queues for busses, automated tills and ignorant service staff all point towards one conclusion for Rachel Moore - that Britain isn’t working
Yesterday, in the course of my work day, I had six calls to my mobile phone from unknown numbers - all were nuisance, scams or cold calls.
After work, a simple self-service till transaction for four items involved three calls for assistance. At home, I waited, in vain, to talk to a real person at the bank I've been a customer with for nearly 40 years.
The day ended attempting to report a non-emergency crime on its 101. I gave up after no one picked up the phone on the "wait to speak to an operator" route after my issue didn't fit the list of hashtag number.
Just a normal day trying to navigate modern life, and failing - or being failed.
On Saturday in Cambridge, my friend and I left two restaurants waiting to be served by staff who, clearly aware we were there, refused to catch our eye to acknowledge our presence, feigning super-busyness when half the tables were empty.
Later, a young male assistant in a never knowingly undersold store stared at us gormlessly when we asked which floor its coffee shop was on, eventually rescued by his older female colleague.
At the end of the day, arriving at the bus stop two minutes early, we watched our bus pull away, refusing to stop for us, despite the driver's impatience to get on his route, leaving us to take a taxi or wait half an hour on a cold evening.
Standard weekend problems.
Britain simply doesn't work properly, or, to coin a much-loved corporate phrase, it isn't fit for purpose.
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All this came after a week of listening on the radio during the morning rush hour that trains between Great Yarmouth and Norwich were cancelled when people needed to get to work, roadworks were causing gridlock in Norwich, when people needed to get to work, and roadworks in Great Yarmouth caused chaos getting into and around the town, when people needed to get to work, and get home.
Last week, after a tyre blowout on the A47, limping off the road to an unlit muddy lane, the AA was going to take more than two hours to arrive, despite me being a lone female. Perhaps mentioning that I had a dog in the car didn't qualify me for being alone. Or perhaps they didn't give a hoot.
Meanwhile, a delivery driver, who had been sitting in his van outside my friend's home listening to the radio for 20 minutes as she was loading her car for a trip, asked her to take in a parcel for a neighbour, whose door he hadn't even attempted to knock.
The same friend, who called to book a holiday at an advertised price to discover, once all the undisclosed costs were added, the trip was always going to be double the promoted price, so a waste of her time and clearly a scam.
The above isn't simply a litany of complaints; it's an outline of the obstacles in getting days done in Britain, a Britain that's not working. And that's without mentioning the patchy mobile coverage by phone companies, whose customer service veers in to negative scoring and the palaver we have to go through to arrange new insurance and energy contracts because of businesses' intent to penalise rather than reward our loyalty
First world problems, I know - but problems that taint and punctuate us trying to live lives.
Staying alive might have been the sole issue for people in the Middle Ages, but having no mobile signal in the middle of nowhere in a broken down car at 11pm is not a minor headache.
Then, trying to deal with all the above turns us into, what feels like, habitual complainers.
I'm not impatient, very happy to queue and wait my turn - if the server is being efficient - and always let drivers into traffic with a cheery wave, but I'm sick of businesses expecting us to accept second best.
British people complain three times a day on average, not because we're miserable beggars, but because we're failed by services at nearly every turn.
We have lives and we need to get on with them.
We pay for businesses to help us do that, not throw obstacles in our way at every turn making every day feel like an assault course.
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