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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Multitasking logic and instant confiscation

British people are often, quite wrongly, said to be scatological, obsessed with bodily functions and toilets. Sadly, this mis-apprehension is further advanced by Gillian McKeith, whose programme has recently arrived in the USA. I feel duty bound to dispel this myth, as quite frankly anyone who spends more than a few minutes in a bathroom is need of some serious professional help. As for people who have reading materials in their bathroom, they too need their head’s examined. No-one should have enough time in the bathroom to read anything more than ‘please wash your hands.’ Some people argue that they are so busy that they have no choice but to complete other tasks whilst closeted in the bathroom, or at least that was the executive’s excuse, he who insisted upon continuing dictation back in the days when people employed secretaries.

It’s not that I’m against multitasking. In principle, I’m all for it and do it frequently. I suspect we all do to a greater or lesser extent, indeed if we didn’t, we’d reduce our efficiency quotient by some quite horrible margin.

Cooks do it all the time, just in the cooking and preparation department. Sometimes they load themselves up and chat on the phone, listen to the radio, read the recipe book, do a few rows of knitting while the water comes up to boil, plan next weeks menu, fold the washing……well maybe not, but you get the picture.

However, instinctively I some how know that there are limits, although I’m not terribly sure where the boundaries lie. That said, I know with a degree of certitude that some things should not be combined, such as knife throwing and swimming. Who wants rusty knives? Then a few other things spring to mind such as using a chainsaw and doing anything else at all. It’s just not on. Some tasks just require the usage of too many brain cells to permit distraction or the consequences are dire.

In my son’s case it is a different order or magnitude. Broadly speaking, I think it is safe to say that neither are into multitasking. Both prefer mono tasking, preferably without end if it is a preferred ‘task,’ more especially so, when the task is an electronic game.

Hence it is with a certain amount of awe when I find him in the bathroom. I see something that I have never seen before. I see something that I cannot imagine anyone ever doing. I find him sitting in the bathroom doing what most of us choose to do alone, together with his Gameboy and a carton of Goldfish crackers, eating, playing Mario games and…..well……doing. Forget the Gameboy! Eating and doing are not tasks I could ever imagine occurring at the same time. I realize that I have had a much more sheltered existence than I ever thought possible because no matter how hard I try, I just cannot envisage doing likewise. I am tempted to squeak something irrelevant like ‘Hygiene!’ but I realize I am silent when he blinks up at me, “wot?”
“I er….you shouldn’t…….can’t……don’t want to……”
“Go away. I am needing my privacy.”
“But…..eating and toilets aren’t a good match dear.”
“But I’m saving time.”
Somehow I don’t really like to make further enquiries, in part because I already know that in his mind eating is always either a chore or in the alternative, a complete waste of time. I can feel a social story coming on.

Maybe it’s just a male thing?

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