gilest.org

What other people are doing

I'm in the library again, trying to bash out some words in an environment where I won't be distracted, but the distractions here are just as distracting as the ones at home. They're just different.

On machine #25 is a young guy playing Flash games, downloading video clips, and being very impatient. When a clip takes some time to load, he clicks rapidly and repeatedly on every single widget in the movie player software window - the play and forward controls, the movie display area, the volume slider. It doesn't look like the machine's crashed, just that this lad's fingers have to click on something all the time. He just doesn't stop, tappity-tap. In the time it's taken me to type this paragraph, he's moved on to a site selling mobile phone handsets and he's flicking from one to another at top speed. It's as though he's browsing because he's bored, and hasn't yet realised that browsing is boring too.

Next to him on machine #26, a young girl in a skimpy strappy top is checking some Estonian (.ee) free mail site; she reads a few messages and clicks a link in one of them. A window opens with some showbiz gossip news site, displaying pictures from the Eurovision contest. She reads the article and snorts softly.

The young man on machine #27 has an unfashionable mullet hairstyle and is attempting to log into a Yahoo! Mail account. It keeps refusing him, so either he's forgotten his password or he's trying to get into someone else's mail.

An elderly gentleman is trying to start a session on machine #75. He's been trying to log in for five minutes now, without success. Poor old fella has great trouble moving the mouse, and looks at the keyboard for whole minutes between each keypress. I look at his old hands, and imagine that when they were younger, they expertly carved wood, or assembled moulded rubber mechanisms (rubber used to be a big industry in this town), or conducted orchestras. Now one of the staff has come to help him, and uses a patronising tone when she sees he was entering his library user number exactly as it was printed on his card - a perfectly reasonable thing to do, but sadly this system requires that users enter their numbers without any spaces. She doesn't explain this, just stops him with the words: "No space. No space," and hits the delete key for him. There are no signs up anywhere to explain this quirk of the login process.

Finally, on machine #76, a girl is writing a Word document titled "Recruitment Process". She clicks lazily in a table of figures and does a lot of reading, but not much editing.

The shelf of books opposite me is labelled "Recent returns." I want to read nearly every book on it.

I need to find another, less distracting, place to do work.

(24th May 2004)