Freetown, Baby!

Man Down by jc2010sl
November 3, 2010, 2:01 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

In the lamest fashion possible, I slipped last week playing football and fractured my wrist. I suppose I could offer some fairly unsurprising reflections on the state of medical facilities in Salone, but something else struck me much more forcefully.

Customer service doesn’t really exist here – there is no notion whatsoever that because you pay for something you expect a certain standard. Even knowing this, I was slightly surprised at the attitude I encountered. I broke my wrist on Monday night, was x-rayed, patched up and told to come the following morning at 9. I duly, foolishly, did so and waited an hour to see the doctor. He told me I had broken wrist, and that I should come back at 3:30 to see the orthopaedic surgeon. Having been once bitten, I arrived at 4, only to be reassured that the doctor was “on his way”. “How do you know?” I asked, “Have you called him?”, “I don’t have to – I know he’s coming.” After some back and forth and a disputation on the nature of knowledge I finally extracted his phone number. I called him and was told in a tone of some annoyance that he was not on his way, but was busy.

When he finally did show up the receptionist then had the cheek to laugh in my face that his presence demonstrated he had been coming all along, so why had I being so tetchy about it. She and her colleague then had a good laugh that I was so conscious of wasting my time, assuming I couldn’t follow their Krio. Now maybe I’m viewing things through the rose-tinteds to expect it would be different back home, but the shenanigans at the hospital threw the other responses I had into stark contrast.

In the Youyi building where I work, every person saw (and there a lot of characters lounging on the stairs or outside offices) was most solicitous of my welfare. Even people on the street have said in passing “Oshya” – “My sympathies.” It got me to wondering how a nation that is so friendly and open can suddenly become so sullen and rude. And of course, back home it’s the reverse. For the most part staff don’t treat you as a huge inconvenience on their day, but you would think someone unhinged if they asked you how your broken wrist was when they pass you in the street.

It’s almost as though the thing freely given looses all potency as soon as someone is paid to do it. I can’t be certain what the explanation is, and nor am I really sure which attitude I prefer.


1 Comment so far
Leave a comment

I thought your job out there was to sort out the SL Health Service…! Too much football??

Comment by nick Plater

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: