Whatever your political inclinations, this is pretty funny…
I work in admin in a hospital. As you probably noticed, after Sir Jeremy Hunt solved the Junior Doctor’s contract some years back by sacking all of the Junior Doctors, meaning most of them went private and that sector flourished, the NHS has basically been a shell the ongoing Tory government has used to push the limits of what people will and won’t accept. Given that people continue to vote Conservative, it appears most of the country are masochists.
As part of an NHS cost saving initiative, I was given a monkey for the week, to see if he could do my job. It was to be expected after the trials of monkeys doing surgery (the final product was a mess, frankly, and infection rates soared) and we had an iPhone app that replaced the anaesthetists a long time ago. (It still doesn’t work on Android phones though.) Needless to say, I was not very happy about this chimp potentially replacing me, but I’m fairly confident that I’m good at my job and, to be fair, the NHS has had slugs doing many of its admin roles since the 1950’s so…
The week did prove interesting though, and I had to report back on it of course, so what follows is an abridged diary of events from the 17 pages of bureaucratic forms and box ticking I had to do as part of the initiative. (The monkey only had to give a thumbs up/ down report – my first indication that NHS bosses might be lowering standards).
A bad start for me: The monkey was in on time. I was not. This did not look good. Especially as the little show-off had made tea for everyone in my absence, thus further endearing himself to my boss in the 45 minutes it took me to arrive after him. In my defence, the monkeys (who arrive by coach from the zoo) have a team of keepers waking them up in the morning. All I have is a smartphone with a battery possessing as much desire to stay conscious as my 90 year old nan. Like my nan, my smartphone nods off at inopportune times. Unlike my nan, it knows my browsing history. It is better this way.
The monkey’s name was Kevin. Apparently even in the monkey kingdom this is a terrible name. To his credit, Kevin seemed like good fun. I particularly enjoyed the mural he did in the Matron’s office in his own faeces. I wish I could get away with that.
It has to be said that monkeys do not seem to possess a keen eye for detail. Although Kevin’s mural (poo-ral?) displayed some rudimentary artistic awareness, overall it lacked clarity and focus. Plus it smelled bad. His data entry however, stank the joint out. You know that old saying about a thousand monkeys with a thousand typewriters? Well this was one monkey, with one keyboard, and hands covered in shit. He happily bashed figures in to our predicted activity spreadsheet at absolute random, not even checking against any information we had on what numbers to expect. I, however, diligently checked and counted and made sure all my facts and numbers were straight. This has to go down as a win for the human. Yay me.
Interpersonal Relationships and Teamwork
I like to think I am a reasonably easy person to get along with. Hell, I even put up with a monkey for a week who might steal my job; a monkey who, and I cannot stress this enough, was covered in his own excrement. Turns out Kevin’s a good conversation starter. “How’s your monkey doing? Worried yet?” was pretty much the most common topic all week. Some other people had monkeys too. Apparently ‘Bookings’, a bear pit at the best of times, resembled something out of Dante’s Inferno by midweek. So there was a tense air around the place. Not least among the patients.
Kevin, on top of his poor hygiene, was an HR nightmare. He got incredibly excited upon seeing a lady monkey who was trialling in another department, and I can only describe his behaviour as “unbecoming of a gentleman”. Also, he’s not really a talker, Kevin. Just tends to point and screech a lot. A manager friend of mine did find her assortment of apes less rude than her staff, and she said that as monkeys seem to eat throughout the day, they are less inclined to piss off for a two hour lunch.
At the weekly meeting with senior management, I was rather keen to show my worth, knowing that my meticulousness and accuracy would shine above the monkey’s crude efforts. However, disaster: Kevin’s numbers, randomly typed numbers may I remind you, were bigger than mine. He had completely inaccurately forecast that we’d be doing much more work than we are or will be, way above our targets. The bosses absolutely loved it. I tried explaining that Kevin’s numbers were fictional, based on absolutely nothing, but they didn’t care. I could see the vacant looks in their eyes as they daydreamed about the rim job they’d be getting from the Chief Executive. My confidence hit an all-time low. I already sometimes feel like my job is best described by Chandler from Friends (“If I don’t enter that data… Pretty much nothing happens.”) Kevin’s definitely going to get my job.
The Monkeys Inherit the Earth (NHS)
The end of the week was the end of the world for NHS admin staff; we were usurped by the monkeys. The Prime Minister Boris Johnson decided the “invaluable” work they’d provided over the course of the week was enough to convince him to replace all of us with chimps. It’s a political ploy really. With the rise of UKIP and their demands for proportional representation, the Tories had to do something. Their solutions: Humanise the monkeys, cherish a chimp, ape amour. Not being indigenous to the United Kingdom, the Conservatives correctly established that monkeys are unlikely to vote UKIP. They’ve given them our jobs, and the vote.
The bus came at 5pm on Friday and took us former employees off to the zoo. It’s not as bad as I’d anticipated. The food here is certainly better than the hospital canteen. There’s no worry, no meetings, no deadlines and no managers. I feel a bit like Billy Pilgrim from Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five when he’s prisoner in an alien zoo and he loves it. That’s another thing: I’m doing more reading, and painting. I’ve just done a massive mural in my old bosses’ room at the zoo.
Happy days, for me, and for those of you who don’t like the NHS now, just remember, you voted for this.
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