Just thought I’d share a strange story. There’s no moral, no punchline and it isn’t particularly amusing, just a strange thing that I experienced one day.
Some readers may already know, but I used to get myself in quite a lot of trouble by refusing to blindly accept things and also by asking far too many questions. As a result, my natural need to take a pragmatic approach to life used to get me into all sorts of bother when I worked at the hospital.
One afternoon, I was responsible for admitting to the unit the patients that were on the operations list the following day. Basically, the patients come in the day before so that all the routines can be fulfilled, the paperwork completed and medical observations performed and so on. The aim was that the following day the surgical lists would be assured to run smoothly and without a hiccup.
For the patients arriving, all this can be quite boring as there is little for them to be doing apart from doing a lot of waiting. And there is lots and lots of waiting.
On this particular afternoon, we only had one patient for admission and he was fortunate enough to have the 4 bedded bay to himself.
Now, each bed is numbered, and each patient is assigned a numbered bed. This bed chart is completed and forwarded to various managers, one of whom is “the bed manager” who is responsible for overall bed allocations within the hospital.
So, sat with the patient by his bed as it starts to get dark outside, I am filling in his paperwork with him. Switching on his bedside light so that I can see better, the light doesn’t work. The bulb has “blown.”
Now, the procedures state that I must fill in a form for the “estates and maintenance” department. This form is then countersigned by my manager and enters into the system. Weeks later, someone appears with a bulb that doesn’t fit and says he will be back later. More weeks pass and eventually a man with a bulb appears on the ward but no one can remember where it is supposed to go because it was all so long ago and now the original paperwork has gone missing.
I decide against this nonsense and simply switch bulbs with the empty bed opposite. I intend to leave a note for the night staff so they can fill in the form, and thus the policies are fulfilled, and my patient can read his book in bed this evening.
But disaster happens. I’m seen changing the bulbs by the unit’s jobsworth. She starts lecturing me about policy, job descriptions and health and safety and how I won’t be “covered” if anything happened to me when I changed the bulb. Apparently, I’m going to be “reported.”
And that was when it happened.
She told me to “switch the bulbs back to the way they were before you messed with them.”
I paused for a breath before saying that this was against policy because there were health and safety implications for messing with light bulbs and I’m not allowed to touch them. After all, this is what she has just lectured me about.
“Do as you are told!” she commanded.
“I am,” I responded.
And she marched off, presumably to get reinforcements.
The patient attempted to offer a resolution. “Why don’t I just switch to that bed over there?” as he picked up his stuff and move over.
But of course, that bed didn’t have a working bulb, because I’d just switched them.
“Just switch them back like she said,” said the patient.
And, just as I was about to, you guessed it, back came the jobsworth with her reinforcements and commanded that I cease and desist immediately and go and wait in the office.
The patient was told that he could not switch beds because of the allocations had already been made, and he was ordered back to his original bed. As he did this, she switched the bulbs back, so that he was back in his original bed with the broken bulb.
Order had been restored.
And there you have it. A random day in my life.