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Yes Sir, No Sir, Three Bags Full Sir.

I’ve never had a problem with authority. I’ve always respected any type; skills based, knowledge based, age, title, position etc but this last 10 days has made me question that position.

Many of you know I had a recent break. What you might not have known was that I had to travel to France, to meet with our project managers and builders. I did everything by the Covid Rule Book (If there is such a thing). Travelling when legally allowed to, booking all the tests through government approved websites, filling in all the forms answering the same questions repeatedly. (Why can’t these systems talk to each other!)

Anyway, I digress.

I generally think of myself as a ‘good girl’, generally following the rules. Including staying at home for our 10 day isolation period. This is where the problem started. Let me tell you the story…

On day 3 of our isolation, we had the obligatory call from NHS Track and Trace.

“How you getting on? Any Symptoms? Have you done your Day 2 PCR test today?”

“No, I did that yesterday on day 2.” I replied.

“No madame, today is your day 2.”

“No, we left France on the 3rd so today is day 3.”

This went on for some time, both parties getting more and more frustrated with the other. Until I said “Look, I’m quoting the Welsh Government website”

(At this point I quoted the website word for word. Handily the was perfect for our days)

“The isolation period starts on the day after you last left an amber country or territory and ends at 23:59 on the 10th day from that date. Example, if you left an amber country on the 5th of the month your period of isolation will end at 23:59 on the 15th. You would be able to go out on the 16th.”

Her reply…“No you are wrong, I have 4 of my colleagues here saying you are wrong and my manager has just confirmed the dates I’ve given you are correct. More to the point madame, if you leave your house before 23:59 on the 14th June there will be a very big fine.”

At this point, I backed down.

I was angry with myself for getting upset with the person and reading the website wrong. I was angry with the person on the other end of the phone who in affect was calling me a liar and I felt they were saying I was stupid. I was angry with the whole situation.

After storming round my kitchen, I decided to check the website again. I didn’t think I was wrong… and I wasn’t. I decided, out of principle, to complain to Public Health Wales about this problem.

I emailed the complaints email address as requested. They came back the next day and said “The website you quoted is the Welsh Government website, we can’t help you. Please complain to them.” Completely ignoring my point about the isolation dates being wrong.

I emailed the Welsh Government complaints department forwarding them the original email and asking them to:

1) Confirm if I was right or wrong.

2) Confirm I could leave the house on the morning of the 14th.

3) Change the website if it’s not right.

Within a short time, I had a reply….

“I am sorry that colleagues in Public Health Wales did not recognise that your key complaint is about the interpretation of the period of isolation that is required and have not addressed that point…

So your interpretation of our guidance was and is correct. You may leave isolation (assuming all your tests are negative of course) on 00:01 hours on Monday 14 June.”

Relieved I thanked them for their quick response. I knew I was right. Yeah, Go Nicola!

The day after I received another message from the same chap.

“I made further enquiries yesterday and this morning I have found out why the Test and Trace team were so insistent with you. It seems there may be an error in their internal computer administration system which gives them an onscreen End of Isolation Date and that was the date they were quoting to you. I can only apologise that you have been the person who has discovered this apparent error but thank you for bringing it to my attention.”

I was so glad I’d brought it to someone’s attention, may be now the problem would get fixed.

Moral of the Story.

Just because someone is in a position of authority doesn’t mean they are always right.

  1. Be strong in your own mind on what you know to be true and what you know to be wrong. If you know something that someone is telling you is wrong, not right for you and your company then stick up for your point of view. Do it politely, get your ducks in a row and provide all the evidence, BUT do something about it. Don’t just sit there are do nothing. TAKE ACTION.

  2. When speaking to people who are adamant that they have another point of view to yours and they are right. Don’t just tell them they are wrong. Try and get to the bottom of why they think what they think. You never know you might find a bug in your system or processes, that will make it better for everyone.



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