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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Some people say that children copy their parents...

Couch Potato
I don't think that's true at all. I usually sit at the other end of the sofa.

To be honest though, I could do with a nice sit-down after yesterday. Having been out and about across Sussex for most of the week, Friday was supposed to be my day of rest. And it would have been, if I hadn't taken it upon myself to go above and beyond the call of duty in an effort to solve everyone's problems, stayed an hour later than I should have done, and ended up ruining everything.

It all started with a sick computer. The laptops we take out to clinics are all encrypted, so that when we leave them on buses, the Daily Mail can't find out which celebrities in Horsham have diabetes. Unfortunately one of those laptops won't accept my password, or that of one of my colleagues, and we both have to pose as someone else every time we use it. Apparently it's all down to a corrupted data file. I've been on the phone to the IT helpdesk numerous times trying to rid the NHS of corruption, and having failed to solve the problem, they asked me to take the laptop to the hospital's datacentre for treatment.

Unfortunately, the computer and I are rarely in Brighton at the same time. Frankly that laptop's seen more of Sussex than I have. But whilst in the office yesterday morning, I discovered that our paths had finally crossed, and after weeks of waiting, I had the chance to tackle corruption head on. Although I had to wait until my colleague had finished using it. By which time I only had a few minutes until lunch. It was a tough call.

But being a dedicated NHS employee, I risked losing my lunch break by heading along the road to the hospital's datacentre, which is conveniently situated up some stairs in a dingy back alley behind the main building. Frankly it's impossible to find without a working knowledge of sat-nav. Anyway, I'm not saying that everyone who works with computers is a nerdy techno-geek with no social skills, but having walked through the door of their office, it looked less like the IT crowd, and more like a support group for Asbergers. You have no idea how uncomfortable it feels to stand there for a good thirty seconds, introducing yourself and waiting for a response, while twenty people stare back at you in complete silence. For a while there, I genuinely wondered if they spoke English.

But I eventually found the person I'd spoken to on the phone, explained why I was there, handed over the laptop, and went off to do my afternoon clinic over the road. Three hours later, the chap e-mailed me to say it was fixed.

I was due to finish work at 4pm yesterday, and having packed up my clinic at 3:50pm, I was fully entitled to go home. But instead of starting my weekend early, I went the extra mile (which was about two hundred yards) and headed back to the Nerdology Department, where I picked up the restored laptop and took it back to our office. At which point I thought "Shall I go straight home, or shall I check that it works..?". Nobly, and some would say foolishly, I decided to stay.

Anyhoo, the good news is that the computer now accepts my password. The bad news is that it no longer boots up.

Fifteen panic-stricken minutes later, I bundled the laptop back into its case and ran (literally) straight up the road to the hospital before the IT office closed for the weekend. I got there to find about three people left, none of whom were the person responsible for buggering up my computer. Fortunately, one of them was willing to help. Unfortunately the computer said no. After twenty minutes of trying, he gave up and said that they'd need to have the laptop in all day on Monday. I told him it's needed for a clinic in Crowborough at 9am. He shrugged his shoulders.

So I took it back to our office. By which time the only person still around was the head of my department. He tried. I tried. We both failed. And more than an hour after I should have gone home, we finally gave up and left a note for the admin staff, asking them to start cancelling Monday's patients first thing in the morning. That's twenty-eight people who would have been seen if only I'd gone to lunch early. I knew it was a mistake to put myself out.