Thursday, October 09, 2008

H and InH

After a frustrating half hour in the bank trying to get new plastic, (what happens is, you go in and the person there rings a call centre on your behalf, and they get told contradictory bollocks, just as you would be if you rang the call centre yourself; they have to ring back and try to be polite whilst someone on the other end talks more gibberish, and eventually sends for a manager fluent in gibberish, and, oh my God...!)

Anyway, after this, one of the many incidents in life which bruise the soul, I went to catch the Subway back up to the West End and chewed it over.

The best mental approach to dealing with the vicissitudes of the job I did at Leeds in July as a summer school centre manager was to imagine it as a PC game, not unlike Caesar III, say: Your mission is to manage a summer school full of unruly Italian teenagers and their psychotic teachers... And so when a teacher phoned in sick or myalgia was breaking out amongst the kids or the activities leader was showing advanced signs of mental illness, well, it was all just an algorithm. Stand back, click of the mouse here and there and, usually, it works. Like a real-time game, there are no instant fixes, you have to set things going a certain way and watch carefully, is it working?

By extension, this approach can help one deal with all of life's annoyances. Just imagine a big, complex, real-time strategy game called Life III: Your mission: to get through the day without telling anyone to fuck off. And then the half hour in the bank is no longer something that makes you want to punch walls, it's merely a game problem to solve. Chill out, it's not like it's real life or anything.

And this last thought brought me to what feels like a Really Good Idea. Divide all activity into Human and InHuman. The first category is everything you do that doesn't have you looking at your watch hoping it will pass quickly. So, listening to music, reading for pleasure, singing, dancing, chatting, making love... The InHuman is all the rest of it: the bullshit meetings at work, the call centres, most shopping. Everyone can write their own lists of what's H and InH, but I suspect there'd be little disagreement on what activities go into which category.

Then, when you're doing InH things, (and inevitably you must), remember, it's not real. H stuff is real. The InH stuff, just get through it, it's a game; to pass the time, subvert it: and that's the big strategy of the game Life III: to reduce the InH time as much as possible, to make InH into H. And to spend as much of your time on earth being a human being as you possibly can.

Or something.