The Weekend Australian - Life - - LIFE - BERNARD SALT saltb@theaus­tralian.com.au I @bernard­salt

How do other peo­ple do it? How do other peo­ple find the time to do the stuff that needs to be done to live a nor­mal life? Just when I think I’m get­ting ahead, just when I think I can see some clear time ahead, some­thing comes out of left field that forces a repri­ori­ti­sa­tion of my time. Left-field stuff is pick­ing on me. I am a hap­less vic­tim of time ban­ditry.

Do all those peo­ple sit­ting in cafes laugh­ing and drink­ing and hav­ing a good time have their tax done? Do they have stuff go wrong that they just can­not put off? Or are there peo­ple in this world who sim­ply refuse to deal with the minu­tiae of life?

Can I be one of them? Can I refuse to do stuff? If I refuse to do stuff, worse stuff hap­pens. I am trapped into com­ply­ing with the de­mands of mod­ern life by the fear that some­thing worse will hap­pen if I don’t com­ply.

My pass­port needs re­new­ing. I need to get a new driver’s li­cence. My credit card is dam­aged. Whose credit card ac­tu­ally breaks? Mine. My e-tag has died for some un­known rea­son. Who do I ring? When can I ring? No, I don’t know my PIN; the last time I did was 10 years ago. Do I re­ally have to call back dur­ing busi­ness hours? And do I re­ally have to sit on the phone for an eter­nity telling and retelling the story of my silent e-tag?

No, I don’t know the se­rial num­ber of my e-tag. Do I re­ally have to call back, wait and re­cite the se­rial num­ber? Please?

How much can I pay you to make this prob­lem go away? I don’t sup­pose you can help me with a pass­port re­newal? The last time I did this eight years ago I just went to the post of­fice. So I go to the post of­fice but they say I have to do some­thing on­line and come back with a print­out and some pho­tos.

When am I go­ing to find the time to do that? Dur­ing busi­ness hours? Re­ally? Can you help me with my tax as well? Look, how about you take half of ev­ery­thing I earn for the rest of my life if I can be re­leased from the pur­ga­tory that is deal­ing with tax is­sues.

Why can’t this be au­to­mated? Here are my bank ac­counts. And why doesn’t the sec­ond key to my car work? What do you mean it needs a bat­tery? Where do I get that? Chad­stone? When am I go­ing to be able to get to Chad­stone? I go to Chad­stone; Mr Minute re­places the bat­tery. So why doesn’t my sec­ond key work? Is the bat­tery a dud? Do I re­ally have to go back to Chad­stone? Do I ac­tu­ally have to read the man­ual? Where is the man­ual?

I have read the man­ual. I have done what it says. The key doesn’t work. Do I re­ally have to take my car to a ser­vice cen­tre to fix this? How can I fit this in? How much is that go­ing to cost? Oh, so you put the key in and turn on the mo­tor so as to al­low the car to con­nect with the new key? Is that all I had to do? You mean this is­sue that has been drag­ging on for four months could have been solved in a minute?

I need a bat­man. Some­one to fol­low me around to deal with the tech­no­log­i­cal and bu­reau­cratic minu­tiae of life that oth­ers seem able to brush off. I want free time, to have time where there is no pend­ing tax meet­ing, where my pass­port works for­ever, where my e-tag beeps for­ever, where my car key works for­ever, where I can book a den­tal ap­point­ment in the sub­urbs, so that I may sit in a cafe and laugh and drink and live like a nor­mal per­son.

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