Screaming for ice cream June 3, 2009Posted by Jane Matthews in acts of kindness.
Tags: casualty, cornetto, Kindness, MPs, Prime Minister, traffic wardens
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Chose an easy one today when I decided since it was hot, hot, hot I’d buy a couple of boxes of ice creams for folk whose work was keeping them indoors when some of us were lucky enough to be out to play. (Yes this blog is play – I count any kind of ‘work’ you love as play.)
Even so, there was a lesson in it about the limits of my kindness.
I decided the handing-out-ice-creams gesture would have more meaning if I gave the cartons of raspberry and choc nut cornettos to a group of people most of us don’t usually feel kindly towards: estate agents, tax officers, bouncers, taxi drivers, MPs and Prime Ministers.
I settled on traffic wardens because I find it hard to believe anyone would do a job whose sole purpose is to make others miserable, unless they have literally no alternative – having been rejected even by those who recruit staff to serve fried chicken to drunks at 2am.
Sadly, it turns out traffic wardens are so fearful of getting customer feedback they don’t let anyone know where they hide out.
Which left just one more group on my list: the staff at the local job centre, rebranded so many times I have absolutely NO idea what it’s called these days.
I couldn’t do it. Two weeks in, yet the milk of human kindness turned sour at the thought of delivering ice cream cornettos to a bunch whose members have been known to heap humiliation on those who are already down.
“It’s such a hot day, I thought you might all enjoy these.”
Behind the desk the two reception staff had long since learned how to keep a straight face in the middle of everyday carnage and misery. Yet their expressions cracked into a sunny smile as they accepted my gift – without batting an eyelid,or asking for anything by way of an explanation.
Of course! Doctors and nurses are given gifts all the time. My sister, who works in a GP surgery, received five cards, chocolates and flowers from patients on Valentine’s day, for heaven’s sake.
It was only as I turned to leave that I saw the heaving crowd in the waiting room, hot, bothered, bored, eyes following the red electronic letters moving across the information board ‘waiting time five hours’ in horror. I swear that in 15 years that dammed board has never dipped below four hours. Is it niave to think they could just bring in a few extra staff for a couple of days and clear the backlog so we could all start again?
I wished I’d chosen differently who to give my ice creams to… Next time?
Never mind my ice creams, here’s an act of kindness with a cherry and whipped cream on top. Great fun!