D4D

Abusing fuckwits for 30 years

Archive for the category “People”

Ignored

This morning, when I rocked up to my office, there was a guy apparently passed out across three of the parking spaces outside.  I couldn’t tell much about him – he was asleep/comatose rather than visibly wounded or bleeding – but it still wasn’t a great situation. In particular I was aware of the upcoming rush hour, and of the speed (and stupidity, and lack of observational powers) of various drivers peeling into apparently empty parking spaces.

I didn’t know whether he’d chosen to sleep there, or had fallen over the railings separating the parking spaces from the pavement and bus stops.

So I ended up calling 101 (the non-emergency number for police services) to report the issue, and let the professionals handle it.  As it turned out, I should’ve called 111 instead (the non-emergency number for NHS) but I’d forgotten that one, but remembered 101.

Anyway, the details were taken – but what surprised (and depressed) me was that my call was the first they’d heard of this particular man. It’s particularly depressing because where he was, he’d been completely visible to any number of people waiting at the bus-stop on the other side of the railings.  (The bus-stop and pavement are slightly raised from the car-park level, so he was definitely visible)

I do understand that a lot of people don’t want to get involved, or all assume that someone else will be doing something. But still, I know that if it were me laying there, I’d at least hope that someone would call the emergency services about me as well.

I don’t know, maybe I’m still feeling all optimistic and stuff, but it just pisses me off when people simply ignore those in need.  And yes, I probably could’ve done more as well – although my first-aid knowledge is rudimentary, and old – but I did what seemed right at the time.

(Oh, and to close this particular tale, he was OK, but intoxicated, and got taken to hospital as a precaution – I saw the ambulance people as they were about to leave, and asked how he was)

Labelling

This week, I’ve found myself actually shocked by the news stories about Pret a Manger and their labelling – and more relevantly, the whole story about the death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who suffered an allergic reaction to unlabelled sesame in a Pret sandwich.

The inquest into Natasha’s death was this week – she died two years ago – which is why it’s been in the news this week.

It turns out that the UK’s Food Regulations 2014 have an exception that allows freshly handmade, non pre-packaged food to not be individually labelled – which is the loophole that allowed Pret to get away with not labelling each sandwich individually. To me, that’s disgraceful. The loophole was (understandably) intended for small sandwich bars etc. to not be constrained by huge amounts of red tape. It’s not intended for large commercial efforts. (Although of course they’ve taken advantage of it)

Even worse, Natasha isn’t even the first person to have died as a result of this mis-labelling or lack of information.

All told though, two things in the whole sorry story left me utterly gobsmacked and despairing of people and corporations.

The first was how badly the staff on the flight handled Natasha’s allergic reaction. The doctor who attended to her wasn’t made aware of all the equipment on the plane, and also that “because Natasha went into cardiac arrest as the plane was landing, it would have been unsafe to retrieve the defibrillator from the back of the plane, where it was stored, while Natasha was being tended to at the front” (that quote is from the Guardian story)  I mean really, for fuck’s sake, how robotic and uncaring do you have to be, to go “Nope, I’m not going to get that, we’ve got to be prepared for landing the plane”?

The second thing – and to me, the worst – is the timescales involved. Pret a Manger knew about this issue when Natasha died. Two years ago.  Yet it’s only now, once the coroner has finished the inquest, that they say “We’ll look at changing our labels“. That’s two years where they’ve known about the problem, and have done nothing. I wonder what the reaction would/will be if someone else turns out to have died for the same reason within that time.

I assume there’s been some corporate legal bullshit going on that says that if they changed the labels before the inquest, they’d be acknowledging they were liable, or some such.  Thing is, they were – and are – liable. If the labels had been in place, she wouldn’t have taken that sandwich, and wouldn’t have died. How on earth can that be anything other than being responsible for her death?

Debtor’s Tales

This week I read the story on the BBC of a woman whose father committed suicide because of his debts. It’s an interesting piece – but, having been through that process, there’s something just Not Quite Right about it too.

I know lots of people – particularly middle-aged men – hide their heads in the sand when it comes to debts and so on, in the seeming hope that it’ll all just go away. (Spoiler Alert – It never does)

In this case, the man ended up being declared bankrupt by the local council, as he couldn’t keep up payments having missed one. (And the council behaved shockingly badly, even for local authorities – I know that if I’ve ever had a problem, I’ve got in touch and it’s all been easily sorted. But of course, you have to get in touch)

According to the story, once he missed a payment, the council billed him for the whole year at once. (Again, I’ve received that letter, but then got in touch and got it sorted down to a new monthly amount that accounted for the missed payment to be spread over the remaining payments)  He couldn’t afford the full year, so just didn’t pay anything – and kept on not paying anything.  (There is also a quite stunning degree of stupidity going on here, but I do semi-understand the mindset)

Where I get really twitchy about the story, though, is after he’s declared bankrupt.  Supposedly, the court-appointed trustees for the debt – and this is where he and I differ, in that he was declared bankrupt by someone else, where I declared myself – super-loaded the entire thing with extra charges, which is something that simply didn’t happen with my own Payments Agreement.  From the article…

Straight away he was charged £3,800 in something called “statutory interest”, which took his debt to about £15,500. But that was just the start. Over the next three years my dad actually paid £15,000 to the trustees appointed to collect the debt – the accounting and consultancy firm, BDO – but over the same period the bill from the trustees grew to £72,000.

(c) BBC https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/stories-45581526

Whatever was happening, that was iniquitous – but I don’t know what it was about.  When I got my agreement, it was the amount remaining from my income after all the bills and expenses had gone.  I paid that amount for three years, and that was it. No further charges, no ‘statutory interest’, nothing. The only other thing I had had to pay was the court fees, which came to £700-odd, from memory. That was it. 

Yes, I paid any extra income for three years – but that figure was set at the start of the process, and only changed if my situation did. The entire process was clean, fair, and the best thing I ever did.  Obviously I’d have preferred to not be in the situation where I needed to go through that process, but there we go – hindsight is a wonderful thing on that score.

So yes, it’s a terrible story of what happened to this man. But there’s also a lot that’s not being said, or that (in my humble opinion) needs further exploration.

But as always, the biggest thing to say about it all is that the help is there – so long as you make the effort to find it, to keep in touch, to talk to the right people.  If you just hide away then it’ll all keep on coming back, bigger, nastier and more brutal than before.  There’s no escaping this sort of shit, it just gets worse if you hide from it.

Current Scams

At the moment, there are a couple of interesting (and fairly well-crafted) scams going around.  I’ve seen/received all of these in the last week or so.

Firstthe ‘we know what you’ve been up to‘ scam email.

It says something along the lines of “I know what you’ve been up to – when you were on that porn site (it’s noticeably non-specific on details) I loaded a screen-grabber to your machine, so we could record your ‘activities’“.  Some of them also have something like “We know your password for the site was [whatever]” – the password is usually an old one that they’ve taken from a record including your email address, and gambles on people using the same password across multiple sites. (In fairness, most people do exactly this)  And then it asks for a ransom “or your shame will be available for all to see” It’s pretty basic, but is apparently enough to scare a certain sub-set of people (AKA gullible idiots) who so far have forked out around $250,000 to the scammers.

Second – and there are two types of this currently bonging around – are the HMRC scams.

These basically draw on the whole paranoia about HMRC losing payments, or trying to take the business owner to court.

I’ve had umpteen emails about “Your payment hasn’t gone through” along with attached links or forms to fill in – always a pretty damn good clue that it’s a scam.  And again, they’re all ridiculously non-specific, don’t mention a company name/details, or what the payment is supposedly for – another warning sign

The second type, which is a bit nastier, is the phone message – I’ve had a couple now, with a message saying “We’re issuing a warrant in order to discuss this matter with you“, and sounding a lot more official.  Still no details though, or anything about what they’re wanting to discuss. (I know, in theory GDPR would also stop them from discussing, but that’s a side point for now)   However, they show the phone number – in my experience, calls from HMRC and the like come through a switchboard, and usually show as “Unknown Number” – and a quick search on that number provides more than enough evidence that it’s a scam.

 

Of course, there are plenty of other scam emails out there – it’s just that these are the ones I’ve noticed specifically this week, and particularly after having received a couple of the “HMRC” calls yesterday and today, so I thought I’d write a bit about them.

Lead Developer 2018

This week I was in London during the week, attending the 2018 Lead Developer conference.  I’ve been before, both in 2016 and 2017 (so I’ve only missed the first one, back in 2015) and this year was as good as the previous ones. It’s gone from size to size, and this year had 1,100 delegates – which also meant that it’s outgrown the QEII centre, so this time we were at the theatre in the Barbican centre instead.

I had decided this year that I couldn’t be arsed with frantic travelling, so instead went down to London on Tuesday afternoon, checked into a hotel in Islington (so I had plenty of opportunity to keep up with walking and so on as well) and stayed for two nights.  On the Tuesday I also darkened the doors of Mac and Wild, where I had a truly ridiculous (and rather excellent) off-menu burger. Following the first day of the conference I also walked to Mere (again – and I hadn’t remembered I’d done much the same thing last year until I re-read the post from then) and back.

On the Thursday, once the conference was done, I walked up to where I’d parked the car, and had dinner in Wahaca up there before driving home.  This had been planned, as it meant I left London just at the time that England started their kickyball match in the World Cup, which meant that the roads were comparatively much quieter than usual, and that the drive home was pretty easy.

Along the way, I’ve also been able to complete a full working week, allbeit crammed into three days rather than five. It’s been pretty tough, but at least it’s all done now.

After this weekend, things calm down a lot – and I honestly can’t wait.

Bourdain

Last week, I was as surprised as everyone else to hear that the chef Anthony Bourdain had committed suicide.

Bourdain was a huge influence on the catering world – you only have to read the many obituaries (including this one) to see the influence he had, and the respect in which he was held.

Depression and suicide are bastards. They make you think you’re not worth anything, make you think the world won’t miss you, make you insignificant. They’re lying bastards.

Twitter and Facebook have been full of people expressing shock, and making depression and mental health a subject to speak about, to help remove the stigma around it all, and make more people aware of how prevalent these things really are.

If nothing else good comes out of the deaths of celebrities, then at least it’s making people talk, making mental health normalised and spoken about.  And that can’t be a bad legacy really, can it?

Property Inspection

One of the other things that came up last week was the annual property inspection and safety check by my landlord.  It’s my sixth year in this house, and I don’t mind the safety checks at all.  (Yes, they’re a legal requirement, but still, I’m happy for them to happen)

Getting them done is always a pain in the bum – every time I leave them a note to say please make sure the cats aren’t allowed upstairs, or trapped upstairs when they leave.  Every year, they’re upstairs and closed in the bedroom.   I get it, they’re not cat people etc., but jesus Fuck, is it really that difficult?

Anyway, this year, I decided to stay home while they did the checks, and now I can see why it all happens. They just leave doors open, no thought of anything else, get the jobs done, and then bugger off. I’m not surprised, but it still just strikes me as being a bit slack.  Or maybe I’m too tense/stroppy about these things. I don’t know.

On the other hand, it also meant I got to finally meet my landlord. Again, six years in the place, and we’d never met.  So it was good to do that, and for both of us to be able to put faces to names and so on.  (Well, I think it’s a good thing so far. He might just decide I’m a disaster area now, and get rid of me come November…)

But all’s well with the house, too.  A couple of small maintenance things and so on, but nothing urgent or needing lots of stuff done.

And at least the bloody cats weren’t trapped in the bedroom this time.  I class that as a win.

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