Aug 062009
 
MEXICO CITY - APRIL 29:  People sit in the wai...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Some things in life are too dreary for words… but I’m going to give it my best shot, so prepare to be completely overwhelmed by mindless tedium.

First my own particular pet hate on the "boring things to do" front: painting. Not the artistic rendition of a scene in watercolour or oil, more the "slap it on the walls" kind of painting. Painting in the interior-decorating sense of the word is one of those agonising jobs that demands just the right level of concentration to prevent you thinking about other things, but not quite enough to keep you actively engaged in what your doing. I find the combination is agonizing.

Another one that’s bound to be high on anyone’s list of tedious pastimes has to be sitting in traffic. Yes, you have the radio to keep you company, but that can be as much a curse as it is a blessing… particularly when a cheery "eye-in-the-sky" presenter informs you, rather helpfully, to avoid the tailback you’re already sitting in. Of course, depending on the particular backlog of traffic you’re stuck in, you may have time to turn your mind to other, more productive things. But when I’m behind the wheel I can never really disengage; driving demands concentration… even if you’re crawling along at six-inches per hour. You never know when you might need to react to the unexpected.

Never, is the rather obvious answer… but the point is you have to be ready. I’ll drive for hours on the open road… but fifteen minutes in stop-start traffic has me tearing what little hair I have left out.

What, you may be asking, has inspired me to share this mind-numbing tirade with you? Possibly the biggest waste of our limited time and resources that exists on this or any other planet, that’s what.

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Apr 142009
 
The ten faces of the Doctor.
Image via Wikipedia

Appointments… a simple concept: you arrange a time and place to meet, both parties turn up as arranged, you do whatever business needs to get done and you both go on your merry way again. Easy, efficient and practical.

Easy, efficient and practical, that is, as long as it’s not remotely connected with the medical profession. The merest whiff of anything medical and the notion of fixed appointments morphs into something extraordinarily convoluted and apparently unmanageable. Why?

I’m writing this sitting in a doctors waiting room. My appointment was at 12:00pm, I arrived at 11:50am, it’s now 12:15pm and I’m still sitting here, surrounded by sick people, breathing in a noxious cocktail of contagious pathogens.

I have a business appointment at a hotel down the road at 12:30. I figured that half-an hour would be plenty of time to check out a lingering pulled shoulder muscle with the doctor. How wrong can you be? In business, if I make an appointment for 12:00 I’d better be ready to meet that person at 12:00, otherwise I can kiss their business goodbye. But somehow that logic manages to evade the medical mindset. Rather than a discrete and accurate sliver of time, appointments in the medical sense tend to be more of a fuzzy guideline indicating that you’ll probably get to see a doctor sometime that day. They’re designed, from what I can see, to keep self-important medical receptionists of questionable competence in work. The reality is that regardless of your appointment time you’ll be seen on a first-come-first-served basis, and frankly that’s simply not good enough. Continue reading »