Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Fundamental design fault - 'Off' switch not included.

Dear Creator,
I am writing to point out a major design fault in your model Homo Sapiens Version I in the hope that you will take my comments into account before launching Version II.
I guess you're already aware of this omission - being omniscient and all that - and although some may argue that the lack of an 'Off' switch is not a fatal flaw, that's precisely my point.
Allow me to elucidate. My dad's 91 and, until recently, was fitter and more active than many people half his age, doing voluntary work twice a week at his local hospital, travelling across London on public transport to play with his grandchildren and running faster than I can (a fact pointed out with embarassing frequency by said grands).
Back in November last year we saw him off at Gatwick Airport on his way to a three month holiday in Portugal. You know he hates the cold and the deals he gets staying half board in a hotel on the sunny Algarve cost little more than if he stayed in Blighty buying his own food and keeping his heating on.
He sent me 22 letters while he was away, his self-deprecating and surreal humour having me laugh aloud while I smiled over the pressed flowers that fell from the pages.
He nearly made it, didn't he? But then, exactly a week before he was due to fly home, he had a major heart attack. He'd been in two different hospitals and endured two emergency stent operations before I even knew. The Foreign Office say they tried to contact me, but they can't have tried too hard, can they? Not only is there always someone here before 9.00am and after 6.00pm (as well as often during the day) but also my mobile number is on our answering machine. Nevertheless I knew nothing until four days later when the cops knocked on my door that grim evening in mid February.
To cut a long story square (as dad would say) over the following couple of months he was discharged from hospital there, endured a nightmare journey home, 3 weeks in Barnet hospital, a bout of pneumonia and a spell in a rehab unit. Having survived that lot, he prepared for what appeared at the time to be a triumphant return home.
But there is no triumph, is there? He's not coping. He's frail and fearful. In fact, it would be fair to say, he seems like a 91 year old. Having attained such a great age in relatively fine fettle, he thought that when his time came he'd be able to slip away peacefully with minimal fuss. What he didn't think was that he was still going to have to do the helpless geriatric bit.
Watching him totter, struggle for breath, deal with loss of memory, panic attacks and depression is what brings me back to my original point. When someone has led such a full and active life, loved, admired and respected by all who know him and an inspiration to all those who fear the cumulative effects of age, I fail to understand the glaring omission of an 'Off' switch.
I recognise such apparatus could be open to abuse, but I'm sure you could find a way round those possibilities, being omnipotent. Some might argue the apparatus is already in place - it's called euthanasia or suicide. Or murder. But would you not agree a simple self-operated switch would perform the job better and without the terrible trauma involved? Never mind the bureaucracy ...
Anyway, thanks for your time. I look forward to your response.
Love, Debi