How you treat your senior citizens is a reflection of the society in which you live. The criminal element has generally lost all respect or sympathy because they think nothing of assaulting old people and women. This holds good even for government offices as I would relate. This is obvious in many areas of our society. Simple manners which we were taught as children are no longer in vogue.
Unfortunately, it all has to do with example: example of parents showing greater respect to the elders in our society. I bring this up because of what I witnessed recently.
The public service, we acknowledge, is grievously wanting in service, compassion, respect, understanding and helpfulness. What I experienced at the pensions office in Tunapuna needs to be told.
Last February I went to that office to seek some assistance regarding my pension. There was nobody at the reception desk, a regular occurrence during any working day, so I spoke to the female security guard who said she couldn’t help so I had to wait.
When someone finally came to the desk, (and different people sit there throughout the day), I explained my presence but was simply told to take a number, sit and wait.
After waiting for about an hour or so, I decided to approach the receptionist. She inquired of the area in which I resided. When I told her, she said “Oh, your day is Thursday.” This was a Tuesday. I wasted an hour and a half.
When I came back two Thursdays later, I was told the officer was on vacation and won’t be back until sometime in May. I later learnt the officer had left the job. So, the senior citizens did not have an officer to deal with their problems for almost six months.
A few weeks ago, I ventured into the office again. This time there was an officer present. Some hope. I got there about 11 a.m. and I did not get to see her until a little after 3 p.m. She could give me no time frame for the solution to my problem. I just have to wait with four fingers crossed because two are not enough.
But my four-hour wait was not in vain. It gave me great insight into how our seniors, some with walkers; and those who are experiencing all degrees of pain are treated. They just have to wait. No compassion. No help. Not even a water-cooler is provided. If you become thirsty you buy water on the outside or walk with your own.
A gaunt looking officer, having had his lengthy lunch time, announced he would see persons from a particular area. No one came forward. I boldly went to him and said, “I’m not from that area, but could you see me.” He brusquely told me I had to see the other officer. A short while later a young man came and told the officer his ailing mother was in the car and if he could come out to see her.
His response: “How she get in the car? You have to bring her here.” The young man’s pleas were in vain, and the officer threatened to have him put out of the office by calling on the security officer.
The fuming young man left and his mother was not seen. What utter contempt. The officer refused to see an ailing old lady in a car. Where is the justice?
The poor customer service did not stop there. There was a mother with two small children waiting for several hours. There were infirm people. There were incapacitated people. There were several older persons. Yet, the staff was never ever seen being sympathetic to these people.
That’s how we treat with our ageing population. No empathy at all. Well for me I was told my problem would be attended to, but when? The officer did tell me she did not have a clue.
This happens daily at one government office. Just think about the entire country and that’s just one aspect of growing old, a period we all have to go through but tell that to the younger folk. Respect, empathy, kindness, help are all virtues that have been lost.