Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Swine Flu Helpline Part 2

Work was like Central Station at rush hour today. Huge lines of eager young Herberts and Herbertesses were escorted through the building to the Swine Flu Floor. The Swine Flu Floor used to be full of shouty types doing telesales, flogging death policies to bank customers to be exact. Now they've been displaced to make way for the Swine Flu Helpline. There's some sort of grim irony there, perhaps, but I'm no Alanis Morissette.

I got chatting to a young lady (q. attractive, though dressed like the herbology teacher from Harry Potter) while on my teabreak. She'd just completed her swine flu training and I picked her brains as to what her new job would involve. It seems to be something like this:

Caller: Hello, I think I've got swine flu
Swine Flu Helpliner: What are the symptoms?
Caller: Runny snout, achy limbs, sneezey, coughy, loss of appetite. cloven feet....
Swine Flu Helpliner: Yes, sounds like swine flu alright. Write down this code: 5RHG6678
Caller: Ok, what do I with that?
Swine Flu Helpliner: Well first, you need to find a 'flu friend' (makes rabbit ears motion with fingers)....
Caller: A whatknow?
Swine Flu Helpliner: A 'flu friend' someone who probably doesn't have swine flu. Ring up them up and give them that 5RHG6678 code. They can take it to a pharmacist and collect you some Tamiflu. Get them to drop this through your letterbox, avoiding all contact with you.
Caller: For this relief much thanks

So there you have it. In one fell swoop the decades-old supremacy of the British Medical Association has been bypassed. Now phone monkeys with three hours training can legally dispense medicines. Have we come to this already? It's positively post-apocalyptic, like something from 'Threads' or 'The Event.' One little dose of flu and we start throwing medicines at each other.

With so many elderly, single people around, I wonder how many will find trouble finding a 'Flu Friend?' I nominate Andy Burnham as my flu friend, and demand that he personally delivers my Tamiflu when the illness strikes.

Actually, I've never had the flu, ever. Unless some of those bad colds I had in my youth were the flu in disguise.

It's a pity they didn't have similar helplines in the 17Th Century:

Caller: Hello, I've got big black lumps all over me groin and an uncontrollable thirst....
Black Death Helpliner: Sounds like the Black Death alright. What's your address?
Caller: 1 Gropewhore Lane
Black Death Helpliner: Right, we'll send a man round to board up your house. Stay put. He'll walk up and down for a bit with an orange studded with cloves on a rope, don't be alarmed. Also, if you smell smoke, that'll be just him burning a load of twigs to drive away the miasma. Do you have any dead bodies in the house?
Caller: One or two, yes
Black Death Helpliner: Can you find a 'Black Death Friend' with a wheelbarrow? They could cart them away for and drop you them in a big pit.
Caller: Shouldn't be a problem. Thanks then.
Black Death Helpliner: No problem. Oh before you go, do you have any dogs or cats?
Caller: Yes, a labrador
Black Death Helpliner: Strangle it. Goodbye.

I was offered training for the Swine Flu Helpline but I have to do it in my own time. Anyway, the tempting carrot of £7.50 p/h is only offered for this weekend, after that the wage will be £5.80 p/h, same as what I get. I'll pass. My passport fiends need me.

1 comment:

whynotsmile said...

Ah, swine flu. I'm bored of swine flu. So is my mum, but she works in a doctor's surgery, so she's in a stickier situation.

I liked your insider story though. And the bit about the labrador. You bring humour to swine flu. I respect that.