The Problem To All Your Solutions

Busy Tube

Brilliant.

My new phone doesn't work. If I try and take a picture of my face with the front-mounted camera, the whole thing locks up. Admittedly this may be my fault for having such a puke-spewingly ugly face that even an emotionless lump of silicon and software can't look at me without having a mild psychological breakdown. But it's not just the camera. The GPS system refuses to tell me where I am - my social skills are so bad, it seems, that I can't even communicate with geostationary satellites - and the memory card stubbornly refuses to be ejected from its compartment.

This is all happening after the Carphone Warehouse supposedly fixed the bloody thing. They didn't fix it, they made it worse. The camera just used to blank me - now it has an epileptic fit if I so much as go near it. I would like nothing more than to march into their poxy shop, lame phone in hand, and shower the social spastics behind the counter with my spit and anger. But I can't right now. I need the phone. I need the 3G modem, because I don't have an internet connection in my flat. I don't have an internet connection because BT took three weeks to connect the phone line, and then O2 Broadband didn't process my order properly, doubling the time it took for a connection date to be set.

Of course, I'm lucky to be in a flat at all. My letting agent was so monumentally useless, so farcically moronic, that I'm genuinely surprised the flat even exists, let alone that I'm sat in it right now. For weeks I had been engaged in a war of intellectual attrition with a man known only as 'Danny'. My arsenal of emails and phone calls was no match for his refusal to respond to them. After an eternity of tiresome nonsense about credit checks and guarantors, victory, although Pyrrhic, was mine, and so was the flat. I almost fainted when I turned on the taps and discovered they worked. And it was water coming out of them, not torrents of vaginal blood or drips of hedgehog snot. OK, three quarters of the light bulbs were out and a recent postcode change has put the address into the middle of a postal version of the Bermuda Triangle, but you can't expect fucking miracles.

Problems. Everywhere. Constantly. We spend our lives scrambling hopelessly up an infinite mountain of problems. Forgot to buy milk? There's a problem. Mice in your pantry scoffing all the Doritos? Another problem. Just shit yourself in your last pair of clean trousers? In the middle of the office? In front of Peter Mandelson and an ITN lunchtime news film crew? Big problem. For every foothold to be found on this wretched cliff, an avalanche of misery lurks just a few feet up, ready to descend on you in the form of anything from a broken boiler to a full-on stroke. And no matter how far the scree drags you - down past an expired warranty, bumping over the gasman who can't find your house, into the claim form that got lost in the latest mail strike - you're still on the mountain. The problems never go away.

Yet still we climb. It's no real surprise that nothing works - after all, if there were no problems, there would be no need for solutions, and pretty much everyone would be out of a job. What would Darryl at the Carphone Warehouse do if my phone just worked? Sit around wanking all day? Perish the thought. We need problems, because we need to provide solutions, and if the provision of solutions causes more problems, which it inevitably does, then that's even better. It's an endless, suffocating cycle of failure that we all depend on yet constantly bemoan. And whenever God or Karma or whatever you want to call the dipshit pulling all the cosmic strings has run out of stuff to throw at us, we're pretty adept at inventing our own problems to keep ourselves busy.

Take the example of a shop, where, I am told, staff spend their night shifts manually sifting through every piece of stock, crossing the price in Euros off the labels in case their moronic customers get confused by that strange alien glyph, the mystical €. This is a problem that hardly needs to be solved at all, although the ingenious idea of not printing the European price on the labels in the first place has clearly escaped the intellectual powerhouses further up the chain of command. Time is wasted, money is lost, staff are unhappy - it's a perfect problem; completely artificial and arbitrary, with a brilliantly half-baked solution that fishtails into creating even more misery.

I seem to encounter more problems than most people. I certainly complain about them more - both frequently and loudly, without much thought for the consequences. This is probably why I'm so popular. But I thrive on these little difficulties, these little farts of fate. Nothing gets me more fired up than a delayed train disrupting my morning commute. I'll harp on for hours about a broken umbrella or an innocuous looking paving slab which turns into a deep, cavernous lake when you step on it, soaking your shoe in the process. The Dominos delivery man not being able to find my house is a day's worth of material. Something big like a Tube strike or broken electrical goods keep me going for weeks. It's brilliant introductory material. "Hi, my name's Pete and my dishwasher's fucked! Something to do with the intake pipe. Costs a shitload to fix apparently! What's your name?" I practically have a fit when Windows Vista can't find my wireless network. It's something to talk about, after all.

As you read the start of this blog, it may have seemed like I was complaining about my broken phone, about my nonexistent broadband, about my dim-witted letting agent. And I was. But in a way, I was also thanking them. And I am truly thankful to have something to moan about, just like I'm thankful for all the problems that exist that keep me in my job, just like you too should be. This world is a mess in which nothing works - a dysfunctional, frustrating, beautiful mess. Praise be.

Permalink || Posted 11/10/2009 by Pete

6 comments »«

  1. dbw - 11/10/2009 - 7:51pm

    Not your best.

  2. Face - 12/10/2009 - 10:21am

    Complaining. Worrying. Moaning. You are a true Brit, Pete.

  3. rl - 12/10/2009 - 8:01pm

    If ever I needed a reason to commit suicide, this is it.

  4. tim - 12/10/2009 - 8:48pm

    too scared to call God a proper swear word, Pete?

  5. Mrs Bigley - 12/10/2009 - 11:06pm

    I didn't really have any problems, until those bastard terrorists chopped my husbands head off!

  6. The Real Ken - 15/10/2009 - 11:13pm

    Who is imitating Bigley and Bigley's wife? NOT IMPRESSED

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