Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Getting things done

Dad had an MRI brain scan at Charing Cross Hospital. He is very unsteady on his feet. He's complaining about his balance, the pains in his legs (might be muscular, could be circulation he doesn't know), his back, his eyes and so on. It still hasn't occurred to him that complaining to people around him doesn't help.

If he made an appointment with his GP and came out with this, then he might have a fighting chance of getting something sorted but, no. He complains selectively and he doesn't have time for a GP appointment even though I went to the trouble of getting him registered with a new GP the last time I went down.

After the brain scan, we went to the Nationwide to open a new current account for Dad. That was not fun. He's an embarrassing racist, has no patience and thought filling in the form with all his details would do it all. Nope.

The girl was a "Customer Services Advisor" who was helplessly reliant on her computer. She was also black. Very black. Dad did his best to be polite. Honest. He got annoyed and got up and nearly walked away twice. It didn't help when, seeing his name in block capitals on the form, in an attempt to be friendly, she "thought we might be Irish" and promptly mispronounced our surname. Terrific. Great start.

Nowadays, when one opens a current account, it's an opportunity to sell. Insurance, credit cards, overdrafts, savings. There's a lot of legal blurb about terms and conditions, the data protection act, PINs and so on. Martha could only go through the computerised form and ignore the filled in form.

She helplessly parrotted back what the computer told her to ask Dad. Internet access? Overdraft? Data Protection? Credit card? Earnings? I answered all the questions for him. All Dad wants is an account with a chequebook.

After Mum bankrupted his business, he doesn't own one of those "cards". He doesn't want to own a card of any kind. He is now committed to an account that will send him not only a chequebook, but also a cheque guarantee/debit card and a PIN for the cash machines. We kept reassuring him that once the account was up and running, he could discard the PIN and just use the branch to get cash in or out of the account.

He needs the card though, as Nationwide don't have Paying In books. He can't see the sense in that. The noisy environment drove him daft. The special security doors that lock you in a vestibule are stupid but, before he retires, he has the beginnings of a personal current account. Finally.