THE EDITOR, Sir:
Having encountered more than my fair share of bungling and bad manners from public servants over the years, I had come to regard poor service as the norm. This is why I consider this case worthy of special mention.
In early June, the National Insurance Service (NIS) Ripon Road office sent me a document via registered mail, but for some reason I received no notification from the post office. Subsequently, another document was sent to me from the same office - date-stamped at the post office July 15, 2013, which I received on July 16 and collected on Monday, July 29.
Realising that something was missing, that same morning I called the Ripon Road office and spoke with Ms Rosemarie Walker, who advised that the first document was logged for delivery to the post office on June 8 and later that same day she confirmed that the document was indeed delivered to the post office and that she would follow up.
Ms Walker called me every day that week to advise of her progress (or lack thereof) in her effort to track the document, as the post office was asking for more time to locate it. On Friday, August 2, Ms Walker called to advise that the postmistress was still requesting more time, for reasons which she explained. She was even kind enough to advise that she was proceeding on vacation leave for a week and would contact me when she returned to office.
just a reminder
On Monday, August 12, the day Ms Walker should have returned to work, I received a notification from the post office stamped July 24, 2013 with a reference '14.6.13'. I suspected this to be the missing document, so I went to the post office the following morning, Tuesday, August 13, to collect the document, only to be told there was nothing and was advised that it was a reminder for the document I had collected earlier.
Now, this could not have been, as the letter I had collected previously was date-stamped at the post office July 25, 2013 - the date after the reminder was sent. There could not have been a reminder for a document which had not yet been received by the post office!
I told her of the missing document and suggested that she check the current registration number against the document which I had collected. Nothing doing ... she only remarked that nothing had been sent back to the NIS office. I was the only one in the line; she had nothing doing. But she was not going to do anything.
That morning, I called Ms Walker and advised her of what had transpired. Shortly thereafter, she called me back to advise that the missing document had been located at her office - it had been returned by the post office! The reminder had been delivered to me AFTER the document was returned by the post office.
I had to meet this very special lady in person, so I visited her office. We met, we spoke. But the most amazing thing about her was not just her great personality and her proficiency, it was her response when I expressed my appreciation of how she had handled my case.
"I'm here to serve the public," she said with a pleasant smile. "They pay me; otherwise I would not have a job." I gave her a hug.
The 'service' I receive from my post office is what I had grown accustomed to for years from public servants. There are probably many others like Ms Walker toiling without fanfare and giving of their best under difficult and thankless conditions - but I've not yet met them.
Ms Rosemarie Walker, I thank you for opening my eyes to the good that may be found in many corners of the public service. May God continue to bless you beyond measure.
I vote Ms Walker as the first nominee for Public Servant of the Year!