This morning I did what a lot of people do daily. Actually, most people probably do it several times a day, and plenty of people get really, really excited about it. Yeah, ok. I could have milked this a bit longer, purely for titillation value but I’ve decided to go for clean in every respect.

What I’m talking about is that ritual commonly known as ‘checking my emails.’ You have to admit that everyone knows someone who just doesn’t seem capable of going through one cycle of respiration without using the phrase ‘I’ve just got to check my emails.’ “But Dave, you just did it ninety f**king seconds ago!” “Yeah, yeah, I know but I really just have to check my emails.” Religion hasn’t died, folks. Our gods have just changed, and they get exactly the same kind of worship as they always did, only this is hi-tech religion and people always seem to need an obsession.

So I ‘checked my emails’. Nice and full. So I scroll down through them; two for one offers on flea powder for the dog I don’t have, voucher offers from multiple supermarket chains that I never visit providing I spend £250 or more ‘in store’, cut price offers on penis enlargement (I always blanch a little when I see the word ‘cut’ next to ‘penis’; I can’t think why), cut price offers on penis reduction (I mark this up for further consideration later, when I have a bit more time), offers to become a ‘mystery shopper’ (I’ve always found shopping a mystery so I figure I don’t really need any help in this regard), a survey on which athletes foot powder I’ve found to be most effective, and multiple emails offering ‘Asian bride’ services. And on and on. This morning I decided to really go for broke and sort out this and several previous weeks of similar email crap that had been festering in the inbox. I generally don’t ‘tidy my inbox’, mainly because those really thoughtful people at Outlook seem proud to let you know just how many million gigabytes of storage space you have, so I think ‘why bother?’. I decided on adopting a slick and effective strategy for carefully sorting these emails out into some order of appropriate priority; I call it ‘tick the little box which let’s you select every email you have and press ‘delete”. Simple, but effective; I wonder why I didn’t think of it sooner. Several months of ‘e-bullshit’ vaporised in less than a second.

So, the job was done. It’s actually quite a satisfying experience, or should be, but of course, being modern life something nasty always seems to be lurking just around the bend to fist you violently in the stomach and then follow up with a swift and firm nutshot with the knee, just for good measure. Because once you have eliminated the crap from your account, Outlook is ready to give you your very own ‘Have a nice day!’ experience, and it’s all part of the service. “Wow, you have a very clean inbox.” The first question I have when I see anything like this is: WHO THINKS THIS SHIT UP?  The second question is: why?

‘Wow’. The first clue that tells you this is really not genuine emotion is that it doesn’t have an exclamation mark. But you don’t need to dwell on the finer points of punctuation for too long, because several other things soon gatecrash your thoughts. Like, how am I meant to interpret this?  Is it meant to be some kind of praise for being virtuous enough to have taken the time to dump large amounts of largely unsolicited bullshit out of my email inbox? Doctors can work for eight hours solid to save a patient who’s just had an aneurysm but I don’t think you’ll find Outlook sending any of them a message saying ‘Wow, you sew up arteries really impressively’. But what really pulls my levers is that this is an email inbox! It doesn’t have emotions, it doesn’t really care whether you ‘tidy your inbox’ or have several thousand pages of emails which you have failed to open or read for the past fifteen years. It just doesn’t care, because it can’t! It’s a f**king computer! Now, like most people, I don’t say ‘no’ to the odd kind word or pat on the back when someone thinks I may have deserved it, but I find it impossible to get any kind of warm, fuzzy feeling, sufficient to brighten my day just because I have done the impossible and impressed a computer screen. Not only do I not need a computer to fake emotion on my behalf, I don’t need it to tell me ‘you have a very clean inbox.’ I know!  I have two eyes in my head which I generally use for seeing with, and I can see it’s f**king empty! Any more meaningless information you’d like me to have? Maybe bears crap in the woods? Thanks for that; it’s made my day. Now toddle along and get yourself a serious computer virus from which you hopefully won’t recover for several decades.

If this were an isolated incident of its type maybe I could overlook it and put it down to another sporadic outbreak of corporate insanity, but this disease is now taking hold way beyond the confines of a computer screen. Imagine this. You have just spent ten hours nursing on a ward full of geriatric patients, you missed lunch because Mr Scrutt (93) tipped his bedpan plus contents onto the floor, you’ve now finally finished your shift and to top it off it is just beginning to lash it down and your weary and broken spirit is stood at the bus stop outside the hospital. How nice, then, to see a bus go by, interior lights out, which carries the information on the destination screen ‘Sorry, I’m Not In Service’. ‘Sorry’? I don’t know about you, but I simply can’t remember the last time I saw a Routemaster bus (or any bus, for that matter) crying at a funeral, or swinging from a street light after England win a football match. Why? Because it’s a f**king bus, and it has no emotion. A bus isn’t ‘sorry’; it doesn’t care! ‘Sorry, I’m, Not In Service’. Oh, really? Well could you possibly tell me when one of your more available friends or relations may happen along who actually is in service? I don’t think I’ll get a response to that, somehow. ‘Not In Service’ would do. Honestly. Just provide the simple information where necessary, and leave the emotion out of it. Nobody, least of all an inanimate object, is ‘sorry’, and a bus really is not an ‘I’, and a group of buses are not a ‘we’.

Have a nice day! I’m going to ‘check my emails’.

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