Thursday, 10 January 2013

How to Wait

Let's talk about teleportation.

I don't mean scientifically. I'm not a particle physicist. I wouldn't know where to start. I read somewhere, a while ago, that if teleportation ever became a reality you'd be essentially disintegrated at one end and reconstructed at your destination. To me, that sounds messy. What if you get put back together wrong, like being splinched in the Harry Potter books? What if the signals get scrambled and you end up in the middle of the Amazon or the Gobi desert?

That said, if Star Trek-style teleporters existed, would I want to use one? Hell yes! I get wicked anxiety on long journeys on public transport, and knowing that I could literally nip back home for a couple of seconds if I forgot something important would take the worry out of just about everything. Wrong teleporter? No problem! Wrong train? Long, expensive ride back to where you meant to be.

Of course, I'd still rather have a portal gun, but I digress.

The thing is, as humans, we're keenly aware at some atavistic level that our days are numbered. With the advent of things like ATMs, home delivery, and the Internet, I think we've forgotten how to wait for things. Hence the teleportation fantasy.

I've been thinking about this a lot recently because I've found myself having to apply for a new job. This isn't an easy thing for anyone to have to do at the moment and, as if that wasn't enough of a challenge in itself, I'm also looking for a career change.

If changing career was a slow process before the recession hit, it's moving at a glacial pace now. Everything I've done in my life that might once have counted in my favour – the personal projects, the blogging, the university clubs – is now not a lot of help. Believe me, I've rarely wanted a teleporter more than I want one right now: a teleporter that would take me from where I am to where I think I should be. I've got a long journey ahead, and I'm scared.

But the time's not right, and the technology isn't finished, and a teleporter would reduce me to a jumbled mess of molecules and dump me somewhere unfamiliar. And, if it's not programmed just so, it'll leave me with my guts on the outside in front of something with big pointy teeth whose favourite food is liver flambĂ©ed in brandy.

So I have to take the slow train. That means internships and working for free. It means scraping together the money for your ticket and praying you're on the right platform when it leaves. It means remembering how to wait.

But if I'm clever – if I work hard and put all my capital in all the right places; if I make my reservation with plenty of time and am polite to the people at the ticket office – I can get a window seat and make the most of the view.