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  1. The Legend of the Sharps Man

    Monday, 5 September 2011

    It's like some diabetes urban legend. Say his name four times into the telephone, and he might appear to you that night...

    Sharps man...

    Sharps man...

    Sharps man...

    Do you dare say it one more time?

    I did.

    See the terror! Hear the horror! It's a tale that will leave you trembling with fear!

    Or just deeply, deeply annoyed. For me, it was the latter. 

    Something I've heard over and over again from other D-friends is the trouble they've had getting rid of their sharps bins. I've had some trouble myself, but in two years, I had only had to sort out one collection...

    until now. (Can't you just hear the dramatic sound effects?)

    Not because I don't fill up sharps boxes - because I do. I just don't like to call for mine to get picked up with just one box, so I save them up to try and make fewer collections. 

    I know some people can hand in their boxes at their GP's surgery. Some people can hand them in at the chemist. Some people have to take them to hospitals. I've heard all sorts of different variations. For me, I have to have mine collected by specialist waste management. Which I have to arrange via the council. 

    Now, the last time I tried to sort this out, I called up the council to arrange a pick-up, expecting to leave my boxes on the doorstep, and for waste management to come and collect. Oh no, no, no. Can't do that. Health and safety, don't you know? Well ok, fair enough. What am I supposed to do then? Well, they collect between 7am and noon, you'll just have to listen for the doorbell. 

    Well there are several things wrong with that. Firstly, I have to be at work. I have to keep my holiday days for using to cover my MA classes. I can't be using them for you to collect sharps! Secondly, even if I was prepared to do that, I can't. I live in an attic flat of my landlord's house. I have no access to the front door for entry and exit, and I can't hear the doorbell. So I can't do that. So last time, the Sharps Man and I arranged for me to take my boxes to work, and he would walk over and pick them up. I work in the city centre, and not far from the council offices. Which I appreciated him doing, and that was fine. Everything was lovely. And since he was doing me a favour, I decided I would save up my boxes until there was a reasonable amount, to save him trips. So I have three 5 litre bins that I've used since I started pumping, and three 1 litre bins. That's 18 litres worth of sharps, which I carried over to work, and then made my first call.

    Sharps Man!

    This first time round, things seemed straightforward enough. I called on Thursday (18th August), and he said he would come and pick them up between 10:00 and 14:00 on Monday or Tuesday. Everything's good, I'm happy, the world is well.

    Until a week later. Still no collection.
    Sharps Man!

    Answerphone this time. I leave a message. It's just about to be Bank Holiday weekend. I say that I know no-one is going to pick them up Monday, but could someone please come on Tuesday and get them? This is where I am, this is my name. Thank you very much. 

    Then it's the end of Tuesday. Still no collection. It becomes Friday. Still no collection. It's been two weeks by this point. I am annoyed.

    Sharps Man!

    Answerphone again. I make it very clear this time that I have been waiting for two weeks now, and I am not impressed. If there is a problem with this, could someone please call me? If not, this is my name, this is where I am, and I do not want to have to call about this a fourth time. I use my stern voice. I consider the matter settled. 

    It's 15:00 on Monday. Still no collection. I am royally narked off. I make my fourth call...

    Sharps Man!

    Except it's not Sharps Man. It's Sharps Woman on the phone. Sharps Man 'is on annual leave'. I am not impressed, and suggest that in that case, they might want to put a message on his answerphone saying the service is not operational. Apparently it is operational. Then why has no-one called me back, when this is the fourth time I've had to contact them? They don't seem to have a good answer for that one. I tell her that I've been waiting since 18th August. It is now September 5th. I am not happy.

    Would I like to arrange a collection? Well, I explain the situation - he was coming to me, I can't leave them at home, because you won't let me do that, and I work during the day, etc, etc. Well it seems that you can't authorise anyone to come and pick them up. Health and safety reasons. I need to take them back home and leave them in a bag on the doorstep.


    So that thing that you told me I wasn't allowed to do, because it was against health and safety regulations, is now the thing you WANT me to do? So, you can't pick them up until a week on Thursday? You won't come and pick them up at work this time? Well, thank you VERY much. I guess I'll have to do that then, won't I, since I have no other way to get rid of them. I do point out how annoyed I am, and though I'm not trying to be awkward, you're making this very difficult and overly complicated. You tell me that you're sorry, of course. Despite the fact you don't seem in the least bit concerned. 

    I imagine you think that because it's only 'drugs waste', I can wait. What does it matter to you? What does it matter that I have to jump through your stupid hoops, stressing myself out for something I don't even want to do in the first place? It doesn't matter, of course. It doesn't matter that I'm angry, and upset, and feel like I'm being a huge nuisance. It doesn't matter that I'm convinced that I'll leave those boxes on the doorstep, and you won't take them. For health and safety reasons, I'm sure. 

    I wonder if I'll be seeing Sharps Man when I turn out the lights tonight?

  2. 1 comments:

    1. Cara said...

      I totally understand you frustrations! It's a little different here, but you used to be able to take them to your doctor's office and they would dispose of them. Then they stopped letting you do that. Then it was the hospital. But then they stopped doing that. Always the same reason (safety issues). You call the local waste management office and they say "they aren't prepare to take medical waste." Um, what am I supposed to do??? Strangely enough, I attend church w/ the head of the local waste management and she worked to get a program started. Now there is one garbage center (where you take your trash off) in the entire county that can take them. I don't mind that it's not the one I used. I'll drive. As long as I have a place to take them.
      My advice if they don't come get them off your porch: march them over to their office and lay them on someone's desk. :/

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