Monday, January 10, 2005

Molasses in January

I got a letter today, dated 22 December, from my RE. He advised that my HSG report had shown up 10 minutes after we left the clinic (having up until then been delayed in the post). And that, surprise surprise, all was normal. I knew this already, but it was nice that he bothered to write to confirm it.

However. The date of the letter did give me pause. Even factoring in the postal service, and the various public holidays, there was a distinct sensation of the slow movement of pond water.

But then, I've come to expect this. Nothing gets done at speed in this country. After all these years, I have devised a theory as to why that should be so. It's not because Scottish people are lazy or lax by nature (apart from the lad who checked my groceries the other day- I've seen garden slugs with more energy). On the contrary, there are a great many hardworking and industrious little bees in this Caledonian hive.

No, the reason is that a large number of people in the workforce have a large number of annual paid vacation days. Not just the high heejuns or the head of company. No sirree, for your basic full-time employee, 25 days or five weeks is fairly standard. Plus public holidays like Christmas, New Year, and the odd jubilee for Queen Whasserface. It all averages out to be about six or seven weeks a year. And then you get other companies with flexi-time, so if you work more than your alloted hours per week, you can claim it back later on, at a time that suits you.

This, it has to be said, is a good thing about living here. Holiday time, at least in my place of business, is sacred. If you don't use all your many holidays, you get a large boss-shaped person chasing you around the desk with some suntan lotion and a floppy hat, screaming "GO ON VACATION!!!"

The irony is that this is the same person who will be shouting at you when you get back for not having the Aegean stables of backlog cleared in time. But hey, it's all about striving for the work/life balance.

The point is that in any given task, goal, or chore involving more than one person, there is a very high probability that at least one individual in the equation will be about to on holiday (and therefore too busy getting ready to go), on holiday (and therefore absent), or just back from holiday (and therefore too busy catching up). Add more than one person and it's absolutely inevitable.

For example, if I phone up to make an appointment with Dr Ticktock, I will almost certainly be told that he will skiing in Chamonix on the desired dates. Could I leave a message with the receptionist? Well, the main receptionist is presently sunning herself in Benidorm, but her lackey could pass on the request. And then when three weeks go by and I phone to yell at the lackey, it turns out she has headed off to Blackpool for a short break, forgetting to pass on my earlier request.

Finally somebody phones me back, only to get my answering machine- because I'm away on holiday in Florida/Amsterdam/Darkest Peru. By the time I return, Dr Ticktock is away again.

In short, I have realised that I need to take into account the "Molasses in January" factor in all my future planning and plotting of treatment scheduling. Even though that drives me crazy. Do you think it would be a bad idea if I asked all the medical staff to give me print outs of their 2005 calenders, with their holiday bookings marked up in red pencil? No? Too excessively controlling, I hear you say?

Tell me, because I would love to hear- do things move as slowly in your part of the world, and if so, how do you deal with it?


At 1:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too funny...I use that phrase, "Like molasses in January," all the time. Yes, things move slowly here. It drives me crazy, because while I'll admit to still having Manhattan type sensibilities and wanting it in New York minute, I also realize that I no longer live in that kind of city. Still, everyone here, even during rush hour, drives like THEY HAVE NO PLACE TO GO and it makes me crazy. How do I deal? Well, I become a New Yorker and use the fact that passive-aggressive is the state sport around here. They are so PC 'nice' here, that they wouldn't dare insult me by not scheduling me when I'm breathing down on them like a hawk (I've tried the sweetness and light crap and it just didn't work, this is the only thing effective that has worked). They cuss me out up and down behind my back, but I don't care (the feeling is mutual I can assure you). Honestly, it's one of the many things that just made me throw my hands up in digust and quit, so I guess ultimately, they won. The bastards. Just keep at 'em my dear. Be ever viligant.


At 1:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, this is the diametric opposite to my theory that everyone in America works so slowly because they haven't had a decent break in years and hence must spend inordinate amounts of time standing around with coffee in hand discussing things that have nothing whatsoever to do with work, just to get their own back....

I say you sneak into the staff lunch room at the clinic and take a quick snapshot of the annual leave calendar on the wall. But I can guarantee you, most of it was over Christmas and hogmanay.


At 5:19 AM, Blogger Marla said...

What it comes down here in the States (my opinion here) is SHOW ME THE MONEY. You want things fast-- you pay. For example, we are fortunate to have good medical insurance, so we don't wait. Another example--I shop at Marshalls (discount store) and every time I go in their I know in advance I will receive zero customer service and there will be long lines.

Middle Way
Who loves Marshalls

At 10:34 PM, Blogger Orodemniades said...

Oh yes, I am also convinced that money = service. Doctors here have no incentive to be nice (such as Dr BlondeBitch, whom I see tomorrow, interrupting her day as a patient who, y'know, needs something medical) or work with any speed whatsoever.

But my point, and I do have one, is, um, yeah. They definitely work at the speed of cold molasses here.

At 4:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If it makes you feel any better, I started getting gray hairs before 34. My husband says, "you should just let yourself go natural." But, as we all know, gray hair on men makes them look distinguished, gray hair on women... well we just look old.

I'm signing up for the "enahncement" plan until at least 2015.


At 7:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, there you go, you're not as cross cultural as you think. I thought you'd said january because it was january.

It never ocurred to me to put cold into the equation. That would be slow, hey.


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