Forgive this 3 day delay. I've been quite unwell.
I thanked him for treating me and was surprised when he said it was nice to meet somebody polite. “People over a certain age appreciate what we’re doing here, but many others complain.”
We were in hospital. He was probably about 40, an expert in his field and I'd liked him from the moment we’d met and was impressed by his bright mind. He said, “I’m sad to say 20% of people are verging on insulting and yet we’re doing our best to help them.”
I suggested they might be anxious about their condition and this translated into aggression. He retorted, “Often those suffering the worst are the nicest, the older patients. You didn’t complain about keeping your arms awkwardly raised for 20 minutes, although we could see you were in discomfort due to those old tears in your shoulder ligaments and muscles. Many shout at us for far less. 40% of those under a certain age turn up late, sometimes an hour awry, and almost without fail they become annoyed when we tell them they’ve lost their slot and that there’s a 9 week waiting list.”
Perhaps, I suggested, it’s because everything is instant, instant food, instant purchase from the palm of your hand, instant chat with anyone anywhere in the world, so people forget about real time. It is big companies who are at fault for drawing us into virtual reality.
“Damn the iPhone! Smart phones make people forget how to relate, how the real world works, because the screen world is effortless it makes people impatient, more anxious, they assume any effort on this plane is undesirable.”
I pondered this, wondering if we older people were at fault for shoving children at the TV to give ourselves space and time. He said, “Yes, maybe us Brits are too TV and screen oriented, statistically far more than other Europeans. It’s why we have so many foreigners working in our hospitals. Generally, the local young can’t stand the pace or the physical exertion, they shirk the work, want to sit at the computer, not rise and do what’s needed. The drop-out rate is high.” I wondered if this might again be my generation’s fault. Loving, devoted parents have mollycoddled their young; a good fall or a bit of rough and tumble and being made to pull our weight, taught us to work. And there are young people willing to slog.
“Not enough to sustain hospitals. I’ve heard builders, farmers and people with businesses also saying that without European workers this country would be on its knees.”
I said despondency might also arise from the dreadful state my generation have left the planet in. Look at the French, rioting against environmental taxes, the self becomes important when faced with Global disaster.
“Yes,” he said, patting the young English nurse’s elbow, “you lot will be our saviours!”