Saturday, 9 September 2017

fitbit fatigue in Brexit Britain

It’s been a tiring week.

The principal reason is that I was training two new colleagues. In the long run, that’ll be great, because one of them will be taking over my old job, so I can focus on my new one. In the short term, it means that I’m still doing two jobs with training thrown in on top.

What made things worse was that a third colleague couldn’t join us because of problems with work permits and visas. They’ve been solved now, or nearly, but that’s too late. Trying to organise remote training as well as delivering training locally just added another dimension to the workload.

Still, I suppose that this kind of thing is good practice for me, at least for as long as I stay in Britain. Once the xenophobes have successfully raised the Brexit walls to cower behind, getting anyone into the country will become a new bureaucratic nightmare. The problems I had this week are just the template for things to come.

I began to realise just how tired I was getting when it dawned on me that for two days in succession, Id shaved with hand cream instead of shaving cream. The razor blade glides quite well through it, but I have to say, it leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to foaming.

The fatigue all came to a head on Friday evening, when I got home after walking up the hill from the station. Why did I walk? I’ve succumbed to fitbit tyranny. How many steps have I taken? How many now? How many in the week? It’s appalling. I can’t get away from it. The thing buzzes at me if I haven’t done 250 steps in an hour and I leap up, as though stung or scalded, and scamper up and down a corridor, if I can’t find the time to walk around the block.

Oddly, once I was home, I felt like taking the dogs out, despite my tiredness. That was when the fitbit madness took over once more. It had once sent me a message congratulating me on doing 20,000 steps. 

You may ask, why would anyone care? It’s an electronic device, for God’s sake. A bracelet. Can it possibly matter to me that to have its approbation?

Night falls as we wander through the park in the grip of the fitbit fit
It seems it does matter to me. I set out to achieve the same high goal. That meant that I ploughed on through gathering darkness (depressing how short the days are becoming) to say nothing of the ever heavier rainfall, until even the dogs were looking at me as though I were mad. Something in their eyes, when I could see them in the bleary light of the occasional street lamp, told me that they would feel nothing but pity for me if the cold and wet hadn’t made them use up all their compassion feeling sorry for themselves.

In my defence, there was a restorative aspect to my labours. When I’d climbed into my car to drive the dogs to the park, I’d noticed that some kind fellow – perhaps resenting my presence in his street (we’re in temporary accommodation as builders wreak havoc in our house)  had bent one of my wing mirrors back as far as it would go, apparently breaking it in the process.

This seemed rude. My car is one of those polite ones that tucks its wing mirrors in when you lock it, so there was no call for forcing the mirror back like that. Try as I might, I couldn’t adjust it to make it useful, prompting a sense of depression in me made all the deeper by the tiredness.

The first place I went to was our (real, permanent) house. Our cat, Misty, is the only member of the household still living there (we felt a flat without a cat flap was too much to inflict on him). But Danielle hadn’t seen him when she went around earlier.

Sadly, he didn’t come to my call either (usually the call of “Misty, Misty, Misty, pss, pss, pss” is immediately followed by the loud impact of paws on ground – he’s no small cat – a lot of mewing and a rush of fur to our side to be stroked).

That meant starting the walk with a wing mirror damaged and, far more worryingly, a member of the family missing.

Then, when the sun finally set, we ran into a large dog coming down the path. Luci, the nervous one – our black toy poodle – vanished at once. And, blow me down, as I was looking for her, Toffee – the orange toy poodle – who isn’t nervous at all, vanished in another direction, surely attracted by some interesting smell.

Imagine my state of despair.

My car had been vandalised.

My cat had vanished.

And now both dogs had gone.

Fortunately, this was the low point. Soon, both dogs reappeared, from different directions. Back at the car, I fiddled again with the wing mirror, until it suddenly gave a satisfying click and started to work again. And, back at the house, calling Misty in the sodden night, I was delighted to hear an answering patter of paws (that’s “patter” at something close to the stamp level) followed by plaintive mewing.

Relief: the wanderer returns
What’s more, I got my 20,000 steps done.

The only fly in the ointment: I haven’t yet had a message from fitbit congratulating me on the feat.

Or, since we’re talking about steps, should that be feet?

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