Monday, 23 March 2009

Meet the readers

Today I picked the phone up to a random incoming call, which is rare - but everyone else was already on a call and I don't like leaving people waiting. It is still a bit of a novelty, having a phone system that is working, we shouldn't take these things for granted.
The lady the other end had a query about a change of address for her subscription, which is just about within my skill sets to answer. Well to be honest, I asked Christine who sits opposite (who'd just finished a call) to look it up for me on the database.
It was then a simple question to answer, but just before hanging up the elderly lady said, "Can you pass a message to Beverley Cuddy."
There was a brief moment of temptation.
Should I own up to being me as it sounded suspiciously like a complaint?
I did the decent thing, after all I had my boring accounts to avoid... and I swallowed hard wondering what was coming next.
"Some of us haven't got computers, so please can you remember that."
Fair point.
Turns out she was 74 and in a wheelchair. She used to breed and show Whippets and now has a beloved 17 year old cat called Twinkletoes for company. She used to have dogs and cats but she can't exercise dogs any more so hasn't replaced her fabulous Whippets. (One of her pups had been on our front cover).
We chatted on.
"Can we have more cats in the magazine?" Well I do sneak a few in here and there. There's Cinnamon on the cancer blog and she's in next month's magazine.
The lady was a big fan of our Terry Doe's writing and said there really wasn't enough in this world to laugh about, but thankfully our Terry always finds something. And Robert Killick, too, got a special mention for services to smiling.
She'd really enjoyed reading about the Endal book last month and had really been itching to buy it. But the article hadn't given any clues as to how people without the Internet could buy a copy.
Doh!
It is a book I see wherever I go, I'd thought it was so obtainable no one would have wanted to buy it over the phone from us. But then I'm not house bound without a computer.
What an omission.
The more I started thinking about it, the more difficult it must be for people like our lovely reader.
I told her she could order Endal with her shopping from Tesco, forgetting that without a computer you can't get home delivery groceries.
Amazon seemed the obvious place for books - but again there's no phone variant.
In the end I felt so ashamed at my gaff, I ordered her a copy from Waterstones online - it was such a bargain (£3.79 inc postage!) and in any case I had points on my store card so it cost me nothing.
But bargains like these are completely out of reach for non-techie elderly housebound people who really could do with hanging on to their money. Home delivery would be great for people who are housebound.
She'd love to be on the net, but she just doesn't have the spare cash to buy a computer.
I sense a niche?
A charity that gets people who are housebound up and running on the Internet - it would make this lady's life so much easier and it would link her to thousands of other like minded people, too.
I know she'll love the book, pity she's not a bit nearer. She's got no relatives and would love someone with a dog to go round for a cup of tea.
Hopefully the magazine feels a bit like a doggie friend dropping in, but if she was on-line she could share all her years of doggie experience with others, too.
I'm so glad I picked the phone up.
I've nearly finished my accounts. Just a few niggly details before I fill the form in and return to normal and put the calculator away again.
And no, I'm not buying anyone else a copy of Endal so no phoning me up with any complaints on the off chance!
The lady told me what she was microwaving for dinner that night, nearly made me cry.
Be great if you could match up all the old people without relatives with the kids who don't have any grandparents.
I know, get on with those accounts....

6 comments:

Lucy King said...

Hence why I have just joined Pets as Therapy with my Collie X rescue dog! Sadly though, this only caters for homes, not for individuals, but I would love to visit individuals as well, but what with working full-time on a magazine, and owning a horse, and teaching agility etc, my time is rather full!

Rose said...

I'm so glad that you answered the phone when you did. You obviously made that lady's day!
I'm hoping to get my young Bernese to be a Pets as Therapy dog but at the moment he's a bit too bouncy. Instead I take him the see my elderly aunt in a nursing home. You should see all the residents eyes light up when my 'wee beastie' as a Scottish lady calls him, enters the lounge. They seem to come alive and some even get up to come over and stroke him, to the amazement of the staff. It's a lovely feeling to know that your dog has cheered so many people up.
At the other end of the scale, I also take him in to my local secondary school where I am a governor. He's become the mascot for the more challenging pupils, in the Achievement Centre. The teacher says that the pupils are the best behaved when we go in for a visit. They helped me get him ready for a couple of dog shows by grooming and socialising him. They were so thrilled when he was placed and got rosettes, especially coming third in his group at Crufts! They had their photo taken with him for the school newsletter and were proud to hold his certificate and rosette.
So it's not just old people who benefit from contact with our dogs, even young people can be really affected by being able to cuddle and pet a dog.

Carlsberg said...

Would the Cinnamon Trust be of any help? I know volunteers walk elderly and disabled people's dogs for them, perhaps vols could call in to someone else's house too? I have no idea if they could but it would be worth asking...

Anonymous said...

You can get any book in any book shop! They order what they don't have in. She could look up her nearest book shop in her phone book and call them. Most (especially the independents) take your card details on the phone and post them to you.

Eleanor said...

This is something that I find very upsetting, there are probably so many people like that lady. Someone taking a few minutes out of their day can make all the difference. Its a shame something couldn't be organised for people to visit such people, with or without a dog, i would definitely be interested in brightening up someones day

Becca said...

What a lovely thing to do :)

I bet you made that lady's day.