Rude awakening on return from holiday

Coming back from even a short holiday is always tough, but just when I thought I was past the age of wondering if I really want to spend the rest of my natural in the North-east, along comes a set of circumstances to set me thinking.

Perhaps I was a little jet-lagged the day after flying in from the USA, but it did not mean I was prepared to accept the two pieces of rudeness that I encountered in two places in a part of country I have come to call home. I have after all lived up here since 1971.

The first experience was in an establishment run by my old chums Aberdeenshire Council where the member of staff served me with a bad grace that had to be seen to be believed. Nary a word was exchanged in my transaction, begging the question does the council have a training programme for its staff?

If they have, my contact of last week had clearly been overlooked by the system, or worse still did not think customer care was part of her remit.

In future I shall pay all my bills on line, or by snail mail, rather than have to face such unnecessary dumb insolence.

But if my Ellon rebuff was hard to take it was nothing compared to what happened next in of all places the grounds of a hospital in Peterhead.

Being a beautiful day, indeed near tropical for the Blue Toon, I decided that as I was too early for my visit of an old friend, I would sit on the only bench outside the Inverugie Hospital and enjoy the early summer sun.

Sadly my peace lasted all of three minutes after which I was verbally assaulted by an on duty nurse who demanded tersely of me: “And just exactly who might you be?”

My response was a very meek one of simply indicating that I was an old mannie resting his travel weary bones before visiting a friend, when I should in fact have stood up, drawing myself to my full five foot eight inches and said: “Madam I am an investigative journalist, seeking to find all that is wrong with the NHS, including interviewing-type staff in the process.”

This response only came to me too late, and for the best part of two minutes I had to listen to her lay out her five good reasons for me not using property in her domain. However, after her rant she relented, patronisingly allowing me stay until visiting hours.

I spent the visit looking over my shoulder, fearful that the object of my terror would again prevail on me, but no I escaped unscathed and have lived to tell the tale.

On reflection, my two encounters are scarcely good reasons for me to flee the area, but it was not exactly the homecoming I would have wished for myself.