Audio Stories

“It was quite bizarre from start to end.” – Steve goes for a coronavirus test

Published on Thursday, October 22nd, 2020

Covid 19 Healthcare Access
Audio Stories

“It was quite bizarre from start to end.” – Steve goes for a coronavirus test

Published on Thursday, October 22nd, 2020

Covid 19

Healthcare Access

By Steve                                            Photo by Mat Amp Instagram @matamp67


OK. Third time’s the charm, this is the third time i’ve tried to upload this.

This is Steve. It’s the 15th of October 2020. And I just thought I’d offer a little bit of empirical evidence – I’ve just been for a coronavirus swab test, whatever you want to call it anyway.

I’ve just been for that and I just found the whole procedure interesting, to say the least. You know, it was quite bizarre from start to end. So I’m just going to briefly talk through what happened.

So I’m not going to go in to why I have been for a coronavirus test, hence pandemic. I think that’s self-explanatory. So a friend of mine said to me go online, register and take it from there. So I’ve gone online and you know what? It was nice to be able to tick the essential worker box without lying. That was a first. I’ve been called a lot of things, but never essential before. So that was nice. But that’s not the point of the report.

So a couple of things on the itinerary that you have to take with you is, you have to have photographic evidence of which I have none. What was the other thing… there was something else… anyway it’s the evidence part I found interesting at this stage.

So having recently gained employment, I have to produce my birth certificate. So fortunately for me, I knew that birth certificate was in my bedroom. Well, I say bedroom, it’s also my front room, my kitchen… but that’s a whole different story.

Anyway, I knew it was in there somewhere so I’ve scrambled around for a good 10 minutes. Finally managed to find it, so I’m on the way. I’m on my journey. I’m off to get tested.

I found the place, looked online at the address they gave me. I’m in my local area, where I grew up as a kid. And I thought I’m blessed here, it’s at Thameside hosptial, which is where my mom worked for 30 years in which I’ve been in several times.

So I like to feel that I know that place like the back of my hand. So my pressure valve, you know, got released a little bit. I was okay I thought yeah I’ll find this place and give myself an hour, which is plenty of time. Get to the hospital. You know, by nature hospital’s are big places. I totally get that.

I must have stopped, no exaggeration, let’s say at least half a dozen nurses and medical staff, without a doubt of whatever level. But medical staff.

Excuse me – this is how it went – excuse me, can you tell me where I go for the coronavirus test?’

And at this junction, I’ve got my phone out. I’m trying to show this guy or lady the bar code they’ve sent me and this QR number I think it is. I might as well have been speaking Latin. Nobody had the foggiest what I was on about. Can’t help you pal. Oh I’m sorry. No, no, no. Went like that.

So by this time I’ve now walked to the other side of the hospital, which is quite a distance. This is half an hour later and I’m starting to get a little bit frantic. There’s beads of sweat appearing, which always makes me worry.

I then see the guy, you know, the stereotypical man with a clipboard and a hat on, and he stood at a front gate that’s not even a gate but what we just call it a front gate. So I thought it’s gonna be around here, this guy’ll know. So I’ve gone up to the chap. I’ve said ‘hi good evening, my name’s Steve’ I’m trying to introduce myself now.

I’m not saying he weren’t interested, but it wasn’t. So I am saying that actually, I’m lying, you know, he wasn’t interested. Turns out there’s a good reason why he wasn’t interested. He didn’t have a clue what I was on about. He said nah mate nothing to do with me I’m a security guard. Okay. Fair enough.

So now of I’ve asked the nurses and medical staff and the security guards, to find this place where you get tested for a pandemic that is crippling not just the North West of England, not just Britain, but apparently the globe, the world, everybody’s talking about it.

So you would think, you would think that the hospital where you go to get tested would know where you go see get tested. Add satire if required.

Anyway, so I’ve managed to find someone who said to me, I think it’s down near the boating lake. OK. Now I when I say lake, by description I’m not talking a stream or a bubbling brook here. This is a big lake, a boating Lake. At the car park just down there I’m sure it is. This guy says.

All right. Well, let’s hope so. So I’m off now. And the heart rate’s increasing because I don’t want to be late because this is important I’m thinking. So you get to this car park, I’ve burst into what can only be described as a canter or, you know, or perhaps a trot. Let’s go with trot.

I get there there’s not a soul. There’s lots of cars because it’s a car park. But there’s not a soul in sight. There’s one person sat on the floor having a drink of cider. Obviously, I’m going to ask this lady aren’t I.

I said, hey, kiddo, you can’t tell me where the coronavirus Testing Centre is? Unfortunately for her she couldn’t tell me her own name, let alone where the virus centre was. And I get it. Fortunately, a taxi pulls up. So I said to this taxi driver – sounds like I’m telling, feel a bit like Bernard Manning here – anyway, I says to this Taxi Driver, do you know where the coronavirus testing?

I said, apparently – and I’m showing this guy the appointment that’s booked on my phone now – I’m showing him the e-mail. And he said, yeah, it is on the car park, but it’s on the other side of the lake. Wow.

=Draws breath – tries to find a bit of hope, had a look in my bag, searched all my pockets. There weren’t much knocking about, anyway. I find it, I gets to the place.

So if you can imagine, I don’t know if you’ve been fortunate enough to ever watch Man City at Wembley, the old Wembley. But I have. And I remember the I was in the stands, me and my dad could see how far away the tunnel was and how long it was. So if you can imagine that tunnel., about every gap between every lamp post on a main road, there’s a security guard stood there.

So naturally, when you’re looking for somewhere and there’s a security guard there, you’re going to ask that security guard. Well, that’s what’s natural to me anyway. So I go to the first security guard – yeah, yeah, this is it. Go and see that guy over there.

I walked to the next security guard? I swear to God, it was like playing a game of cluedo. You got an indicator off each guard. So I’ve finally reached Professor Green.

I’m at the place I’ve got there.

I can put me hand through the fence and tap the security guard on the shoulder. I didn’t. But that’s how close I was to it. I’m showing him my phone through the fence now. I said, Hey, mate, I’ve got an appointment. I said, but I’m a couple of minutes late. She said, you’re going to have to walk round mate. I said walk round where? The fence, you can’t come in this way.

I said I understand you’re doing your job, but I’ve got to… nah you can’t come in this way. So I had to go all the way back round, not the lake but the car park. Again, it’s big place. So I’ve gone all the way back round, to walk all the way round the grass in the field in the mud, and the blood and the beer… there’s a song in there somewhere.

Anyway, get to the same security guard that I could have tapped on the shoulder, get to him and he says to me, yeah, it’s just through there mate.

So I walked through again, got the phone out. I’m scrambling for the birth certificate and the hope in the bag and found the birth certificate, there was no hope.

Anyway, shows it this guy. Yeah, yeah, didn’t look at it. Didn’t even… it could have been an MOT certificate. Could have been anything. Didn’t look at it.  Didn’t look at the phone.

It was like he was cutting me words. I’m not saying he was being rude. What I’m saying is it was all very well documented… it was all very much… what’s the correct terminology… everything I said, it didn’t matter. So it was robotic. That’s what I’m looking for. Thank you, God.

Anyway, so I’ve spoke to the first one. Go see John. We’re now on first name terms. But they’ve not asked me mine. I’ve gone and seen John… yeah Sean’ll tell you. So I’m walking down this line, it’s like a great big tent and there’s little sections in each part of the tent.

One of the sections they give me this grey bag. It were a bit like being exited from prison in that  sense. You know, you collect your property. Only this time nobody give me £77 quid. But he said, right, yeah go there. He said you can set your mask off now, which I found strange but yeah okay.

Takes the mask off. What do we do now, mate? He said right, I’m not medical staff pal. I’m a security guard. Just follow the directions on that bag, which he just give me.

So open opened bag, there’s a swab in it. He said what I can tell you, you put that on your… so he could give me advice really… He said you put that on your tonsils for 10 seconds and then you put it in your nasal cavity for another 10 seconds.

So I did that, while I’m snapping it off and putting it back in the thing, and I think the security guard’s main priority in this one, Sean – I’ve got to know him now – Sean’s job description was each client is responsible for their own rubbish, their own stuff. He didn’t touch anything, which again, is a pandemic. I understand that.

So, I’m quite gregarious as I’m doing things, I like to chat to people. I just think his manners. It’s nice to get to know people. It’s natural, I feel. Anyway, so I’ve said to Sean, I said, how did you cop for this job then? And he said, it’s all through agencies.

And he must have seen me sigh because I’ve been down that route many moons ago. I said ah agencies ey, because they take a cut but I weren’t getting into all that I was too tired. And he looked fed up to be fair to him.

And so I said, it’s seems all right though. I said I think I’d get a bit fed up. Just stood about all day. I said, what time you finish? It was like being in a taxi. You know the questions you ask. They don’t mean anything, but we all do em. I said you been busy and all that stuff.

He said, yeah, finish in ten minutes it’s been a long day. I said, eight hour shift? He said no I’ve done twelve. So he must have done half seven to half seven.

Now, you only get one appointment. So I said, oh, has it been busy. And he said, oh no, we only see someone every half an hour. So I was always staggered by that, I said wow.

So you just stood here and you only get to see 24 people by linear math. I didn’t ay that bit because I’d have sounded like a right tosser.

And he said, oh no, we’re not that busy. I said, you what. I don’t know. Maybe I’ve got this wrong but it was a place in the middle of nowhere that you couldn’t find. We’re not that busy. And all this is happening where we’re constantly being told that this pandemic is destroying not just the north of England now, you know, not just London. It’s global, isn’t it? We’re all fully aware of what’s going on now. We get it rammed down us throats at every single opportunity.

And I just found it beyond ironic that in a place where you’re talking about God knows what section of lockdown we’re on, but it’s been a heavy eight month for everyone hasn’t it. Let’s have it right.

Nobody knew where the place was. When you get there wasn’t one medical staff in sight. Not one which I find… maybe I’m missing something here, but I find that quite bemusing. They’re all security guards, none of them are interested. Which again. Listen, I am not knocking someone for not being interested in being stood there for 12 hours. I understand it.

What I’m fascinated is – is my misconception a popular misconception because I just thought it’d be a bit more… I thought there’d be more going on. I don’t know. I’m not talking men in biohazard suits or an episode of Doctor Who. I certainly didn’t expect… it was like being in a Laurel and Hardy film.

Honestly, that’s my that’s my take on my study of going having a coronavirus test.

Yeah. Anyway, I just found it fascinating.


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