I ‘m trying to get into my local supermarket but appear to be stuck behind a 4x4 Volvo the size of Belgium.
It has no indicators apparently and I say to my daughter: “Is this a car in front of us or a blockade?” “I can’t see the sky Dad,” she says. “It must be a house. Go somewhere where it isn’t.” I agree with her and decide to go the long way around the car park just so I am not near the stupid Volvo.
As we make our way into the shop we see it again, parked across the two disabled bays nearest the entrance. It has no disability badge and I find myself irrationally cross. I want to punish the car, not firebomb it exactly but certainly find the driver and be very sarcastic at them. I am outraged, the thoughtlessness offends me. Well it must do - this happened two days ago and I am still banging on about it.
“Get a life” I hear someone say, or “There are more important things to get annoyed about in the world” - which doesn’t help really because I just start thinking about some of them and become even more annoyed.
Of course, in a way the Volvo driver is blessed by something that I might consider to be ignorance but what may otherwise be seen as an easygoing insouciance. In short, she didn’t care remotely about anything except her capacity to shop easily. She probably doesn’t even notice there are other people on the planet. And those disabled signs she just stuck her car across? She thinks of them as targets.
There must be something gloriously liberating about not caring mustn’t there? I thought this when I read of the NHS Commissioning Board’s incoming chief executive Sir David Nicholson’s reflections on the challenges facing hospitals in the coming months. He suggested that if hospitals do not adapt to remain competitive they may have to close. OK, so I confess I may just be grumpy about Volvo lady, but underpinning that sort of analysis is the inherent expectation that hospitals will do whatever they have to in order to remain open. They will compromise, reorganise and make cuts because that is what is demanded of them, and the people who work in them and use them will experience difficulty because of that. Hospitals will change in order to survive, because they care about what they do.
Don’t you sometimes think that it might be quite liberating to simply say: “Nah, it’s alright. Close us down, all of us, because the budgets you propose, the business models and the ethos you demand and the compromises you insist on are simply rubbish. What we do is too important to entertain that nonsense so let’s not bother, eh?”
There is something profoundly disempowering about being the “keepers of the care”. There you are trying to safeguard standards or principles while around you are politicians treating the most important element of a civil society - the capacity to protect and care for its members - as an irritating waste of resources that could otherwise be spent on banking.
We are hamstrung by the responsibilities that go with caring and, in truth, there is nothing we can do about it. But sometimes, just sometimes, wouldn’t it be nice to collectively say: “Yeah, close it all down, we’re all going to take a few weeks off. Let us know what you are going to do with all the money you save. And where you are going to bury all the bodies of course.”