repetitive strain injury. fractal brokenness.

My wrist mild­ly hurt, and had a small bump on it, so I thought I’d get it checked out. Easy, I thought. I’ll go to Ma­ni­pal, one of the biggest, most well-equipped hos­pi­tal chains around. I got the app to book an ap­point­ment. One of the plea­sures of mod­ern tech­nol­o­gy is that I get to avoid awk­ward hu­man con­tact to do mun­dane things like book­ing an ap­point­ment or pay­ing a bill. I se­lect­ed an or­tho and got my ap­point­ment booked. I clicked on the con­fir­ma­tion but­ton and noth­ing hap­pened. I clicked on it again, and I got a pop-up mes­sage say­ing “al­ready booked by pa­tient”. I did not see any pre­pay­ment op­tion.

Oh well. Just a bit of a rough edge in the UX, at least it showed up in my book­ings. I’ll pay at the hos­pi­tal.

I go to the hos­pi­tal the next day. The re­cep­tion is love­ly, just like a posh ho­tel with the warm light­ing, high ceil­ing and fan­cy light fix­tures. Big touch screens fac­ing me at the counter. I guess I just show my ap­point­ment on the app and make the pay­ment. I join the back of the queue and open the ap­point­ment page for the app. I then see a but­ton to gen­er­ate an ID I show to the re­cep­tion­ist. I press it. It says I have to make a reg­is­tra­tion first. Oh well. I thought my Google sign in would be enough.

I walk out of the queue.

I type in my email, phone num­ber, date of birth and ID proof de­tails. In my life­time, I’d have filled this count­less times al­ready, and would have to fill in count­less more times. The date pick­er was the most fun, as I had to scroll back 21 years and hunt for the day I was brought onto this beau­ti­ful world on a cal­en­dar lay­out. Find­ing it only gets hard­er as I get old­er. I reg­is­ter just as the queue in front of me has al­most cleared.

I am back to the “Gen­er­ate ID” screen. I press it again. I get a pop up say­ing in­ter­nal serv­er er­ror. I press it again. It takes me back to the reg­is­tra­tion form, all fields emp­ty. Oh well. I move aside and fill it again. This time it works. I even get a pay­ment but­ton, and on pay­ing I’d get the ID. That would be con­ve­nient. I tap pay. In­ter­nal Serv­er Er­ror. I de­cide to ac­cept this sunk cost, and I go to the now-emp­ty queue and ask the re­cep­tion­ist about how I could get that num­ber. She points to the large touch screen and says, reg­is­ter here.

Al­righty then. I see the screen, and all I find is stray pix­els of the hos­pi­tal’s logo. I swipe around and two let­ters fill up the screen. I re­alise that this is the same form I filled on the mo­bile, but zoomed in to oth­er­world­ly pro­por­tions. Pinch­ing out did noth­ing. Oh well. It would be too te­dious to fill this form. I walk to the oth­er counter hav­ing a sim­i­lar screen. The form has a more rea­son­able size there. I type all my de­tails yet again. Strange­ly, this form asks more de­tails than the one on the app. I am fi­nal­ly done, and as I tap “reg­is­ter” I no­tice that there was an out-of-place check­box that was al­ready checked and I did not no­tice. It said some­thing about send­ing me hos­pi­tal alerts and mar­ket­ing.

Be­fore I can process that though, an ID flashed on the screen, with a timer count­ing down 10 sec­onds. I re­alise this was the ID I had to give the re­cep­tion­ist. I knew I could not mem­o­rise it so quick­ly. I take out my phone and open the cam­era. My phone lags, and by the time the cam­era opens, the ID is gone. Oh well. I tell the re­cep­tion­ist about how my ID got snapchat­ted away. She asks me to check my in­box, I’d have re­ceived a copy. How thought­ful. I open my In­box and there it is. As I dic­tate the ID, my phone starts get­ting SM­Ses from the hos­pi­tal, ask­ing me to fill up a sur­vey. But I fi­nal­ly got to pay.

The doc­tor di­ag­nosed me with repet­i­tive strain in­jury. The way God made wrists, he tells me, is for a large range of mo­tion. When you move your wrists to type in a repet­i­tive up-down mo­tion, you dam­age the com­plex in­ter­nal struc­tures. Your hands are not made for such repet­i­tive move­ments. Take this med­i­cine every­day for five days to deal with in­flam­ma­tion. Take this oth­er med­i­cine be­fore it to deal with the side ef­fect (acid­i­ty) of the first med­i­cine.

Life is full of dis­cov­ery and ex­cite­ment. Well, some of it is. Most of it is fill­ing forms. Life is boil­er­plate. Life is rep­e­ti­tion. Life is nav­i­gat­ing past joy­ous hold mu­sic to tell your ISP’s cus­tomer sup­port to fix the in­ter­net again, only to be asked to con­nect the LAN ca­ble and re­port back. I don’t have a LAN port on my lap­top, I say. Then re­set your router, they say. Life is about be­ing in awe at how amaz­ing we are as a species. Look at how we in­no­v­a­tive­ly tack­le the world’s prob­lems by re­plac­ing pa­per­work with bro­ken soft­ware. The bro­ken soft­ware is just a prod­uct of a bro­ken sys­tem. The bro­ken sys­tem is a prod­uct of a bro­ken so­ci­ety. So­ci­ety is bro­ken be­cause we have made a frag­ile cob­web of de­pen­den­cies that no one un­der­stands or can fix.

Life is about over­com­ing great chal­lenges and the most test­ing times, to come out on top. Well, some of it. Most of it is try­ing to buy a damned wrist splint. I went to the drug store. The drug store guy told me to check the shop above the MRP al­co­hol shop. The shop above had shut down.

Life is about up­lift­ing the less priv­i­leged to progress as one. We can do it through tech­nol­o­gy. All the best to the oth­er 99% who have to book an ap­point­ment for wrist pain. This is the fan­tas­tic mod­ern world we have built. Why com­plain about the mod­ern world. This ge­nie is out of the bot­tle. What will you do, go back to fish­ing and pick­ing berries to sus­tain your­self?

I lose track of what I was say­ing. Life is worth­while, and full of ad­ven­tures. We learn from ad­ver­si­ty. All that good jazz. Well, of course, all that awaits you once you file your tax­es. And pay your phone bills. These are only small chores. Get them out of the way and you will en­joy the na­ture of be­ing. Un­til you have to re­peat those chores again. We will au­to­mate all that some­day. Just as we al­ways do, by adding more de­pen­den­cies to this sys­tem to patch the sys­tem. As a chameleon on twit­ter once said, “we fix prob­lem bet­ter!”. And so we progress. I shall now rest my wrists. It has strained from the rep­e­ti­tion.