Well, not really. I think I need a new title. And I definitely think I should stop whining about this particular subject. I will. Promise.
It’s like watching gangrene spread.
(Again, not really. Both of those are, of course, stolen — one from a second-rate (third-rate?) movie from the 1980s and the other from the Wuffa Wuffa guy.)
It’s not really like gangrene. I was the first person to show up for hockey three weeks in a row. That’s not fatal or dangerous or disfiguring or anything — it’s just (for me) aberrant behavior. I don’t really like being the first to arrive for anything; just because I’ve done it a few times in a row doesn’t make it analogous to necrosis. In the current context, it’s also more than a little uncomfortable — the first person has to sit in an empty room and shiver because the change rooms are typically not heated when not in use. The first person (that would be me) gets to sit in a freezing cold room and contemplate his bag of smelly equipment while the fifty-year-old furnace struggles to take the worst of the chill off. Ironically, after the game — when you’re overheated — the room is always warm.
One side effect of being early is that there’s time to check the latest nonsense on the brand new (well, it’s not brand new any more) high definition large screen TV in the lobby. Will it display a list of which groups are playing when? Nope. Will it tell me my room assignment? Not likely. Will it tell me anything useful? Experience suggests no (I’ve ranted several times on the subject.)
So I stood in the lobby and looked at the TV — what wisdom would be displayed today? Secrets of the universe? Winning lottery numbers? Dressing room assignments? Nope — the first thing I noticed was that I had to move; there was a drip from one of the pipes that ran along the ceiling. (The pipes leak but by god we’ve got TV…) The second thing that I noticed was that the TV was displaying some of the same ‘helpful’ information that it had shown at least once before (probably water park information but I don’t remember for sure). But wait — there’s more! I noticed that there was weather information scrolling across the bottom of the screen. That was new but was it useful? Well, it said that it was 17 degrees outside. (That’s 63 for the Celsius-impaired.) Having just come in from outside (It was NOVEMBER. In CANADA.) I knew that this was… incorrect. I kept watching, hoping for more. The forecast continued, telling me how nice a day it was, how nice tomorrow would be and finally… the date. It was the weather for June 30th.
June 30th, 2012.
That’s more than half a year before the system was even INSTALLED. I was amazed; this was a new low.
The following week I was early AGAIN. (What the hell is WRONG with me?) As part of my avoid-the-freezing-cold-dressing-room ritual I went to consult the Font Of All Knowledge in the lobby. To my complete surprise, though, there was no useless or out of date information displayed on the TV. What was displayed? Well, the system had crashed so the only thing on the screen was the logo of the TV’s manufacturer.
So the moral of the story is if you want the public information system not to misinform the public, you have to break it.
(I promised to stop but I feel obliged to insert a postscript — it’s even a little hopeful if you squint just a bit and lower your expectations quite a lot. Today I wasn’t the first one there but I checked the TV anyway. It displayed what looked like a schedule, complete with dressing room assignments and everything. The trouble was, under the column marked ‘Time’ was…nothing. Under the column marked ‘Group’ was… nothing. Under the column marked… well, you get the idea. They had all the places where data would go — there was just no data. I’m cautiously optimistic that by the end of the season it won’t be completely useless.)
Your tax dollars (or at least mine) at work.