Caller Number Two

I am currently Caller Number Two in the surgery system. I have been Caller Number Two for the last ten minutes. I know this, because they keep telling me, and thanking me for my patience. It’s very irritating. The only good thing about it is that it cuts off the twangy music.

They tell me my place in the queue several times a minute and tell me they are currently experiencing a high volume of calls every minute. At least they are grateful for my patience.

I’ve now been waiting about 12 minutes. The music has changed several times. but my position in the queue has not altered.

My patience is, I admit, being tried.

I’m beginning to worry that I’m stuck in electronic limbo. Or that Covid 19 has ripped through the nation and that Julia and I are the last two survivors of the human race. It could happen. Assuming that the TV stations are on automatic it could be several days before we noticed they were repeating all the programmes (let’s face it, most of the stuff is repeated ad infinitum at the best of times) and we wouldn’t know until we went shopping.

I’ve been in the house for the best part of 96 hours now and I’m relying on my computer calendar to tell me what day it is. I could actually be the last man on Earth. If I am, the apes are welcome to it. I don’t have the energy to fight them for it.

Ah! Number One. I’m Number One!

I don’t remember being as excited as this for a long time.

And suddenly, I am connected. There is no human voice, just crackling. Am I through to a disease-ravaged room of death, where skeletal hands clutch crackling, endlessly unanswered telephones?

No, there is now a human voice. Ninety seconds later my business is concluded and I am happy. All is right with the world and I have a texted barcode to enable me to pick up my prescription.

It took 21 minutes according to my phone timer. As I sprang from being 2nd to 1st very quickly I can only assume that the original two callers spent ages on the phone. There is, as I recall, an Edgar Wallace story about a murderer who killed someone by sending an electric shock down a telephone (my memory is dim, but I know a telephone was involved). Maybe the NHS should look at that as a way of cutting down on telephone waiting times.

Anyway, I can now go and pick up the prescriptions.

If I could only get rid of the twanging music in my ears…


12 thoughts on “Caller Number Two

    1. quercuscommunity

      Take a round of applause there. 🙂
      Yes, you are correct about gatekeeping. Someone told a fellow queue member today that they had rung for Universal Credit and been number 1,800 in the queue, so she hung up.

  1. tootlepedal

    I rang a train company the other day and was informed that I was 165 in the queue. I rang off but it occurred to me later that they might just have been saying that to stop people calling them. The only contact that I have had with our health centre was a call from a doctor saying that they didn’t think that I was that sick so could I stop bothering them. I asked when I could be sick and they said that they would let me know.

  2. Lavinia Ross

    Telephone queues are hard ones to wait through. I’ve been on hold 45 minutes to an hour sometimes with insurance, and that was well before the pandemic. Hang in there Quercus!

  3. Laurie Graves

    Phew! For a moment I was beginning to fear that things were much worse in England than they were here. Glad you were eventually able to talk to a human.

    1. quercuscommunity

      In the end of the world films we always get wiped out and the USA survives to fight another day, a bit like the Enterprise crew in red shirts. I know my place. 🙂


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