Thursday, 11 September 2008

What are you waiting for?

Yesterday, I met a man who was waiting; he was frustrated, exasperated, apologetic. What was he waiting for? A computer. In my experience, it is not unusual for there to be an association between waiting, computers and frustration but I always try to remind myself what wonderful creations they actually are, how my life would be so totally different without them. They are almost like magic to me, in the real sense that I will never understand how they work. I know that I could not do the things I do without one. But then I'm a writer and it is my tool.

Yesterday, the man I met was a consultant at a hospital. The source of his frustration was that he had a computer sitting on his desk that had been there for 4 weeks and no one had come to make it work. He said that in all probability it would sit there for another 4 weeks before anything happened. Apparently, the NHS computerised things 8 years ago and this added to his exasperation that the investment hadn't been there previously in this very nice private hospital (if anyone wants to lecture me on the immorality of going private then I probably deserve it). The point is that he was obviously as lost as I might be if I had to permanently resort to writing by hand, not being able to Google things and all the other really useful things I do like open accounts, fill virtual baskets with purchases and then empty them again before closing down for the night.

Anyway, my GP is wonderful as are all of those at the surgery but I have noticed a growing trend for note-taking on the computer whilst you're talking. I'm not suggesting that I necessarily get an impression of them saying a silent 'Are you still here then?' (although this is entirely possible) but that somehow I'm bypassing the doctor and speaking to the computer. This is more of an observation of the natural progression of things rather than a criticism. Of course, the doctor is not Googling my symptoms.

There was something very reassuring about sitting opposite the consultant who scribbled away on a sheet of paper as I talked; the magic of technology didn't intervene. Not even once.

1 comment:

pierre l said...

Yes, it's a strange feeling. Somehow the doctor who is writing things on a piece of paper seems to be listening to you more than the one who is tapping away at his computer. Perhaps it's the noise of the keyboard, or the fact that he is looking at the screen and not at you.
I hope you are OK.