‘When the Borg Took Our Payslips’

cartoon drawing nurse with Borg implantsI have occasionally been accused, by the terminally unwise it has to be said, of showing a preference for the sci fi fantasy world of Star Trek over twenty-first century reality.  You know reality: that’s where the cat throws up over your foot just as you sit down to eat and the gift you ordered on line for fast delivery is sitting in a DHL depot, fifty miles further away than the shop you didn’t have time to go to in the first place, because you weren’t in when they called[1].  Neither are they when you phone them, but we can all be assured that our call is important to them if we would only hold another forty minutes or so.

Anyway, it seems I’ve been vindicated.  Some time during October/November, the Borg (having sent an advance party into the IT department and concluded that no-one noticed) mounted a major offensive on our civilisation by assimilating the NHS workforce in its entirety.  Not, you understand, by equipping us with neat little bio-electronic gadgets, although the hive mentality is strangely familiar, but by mucking about with that driving ethic of care services, our salaries, which suddenly went AWOL.

The effect of this is a bunch of refused payments for online goods and the stoppage of my bit of plastic. It is still there; its physical presence takes up space where it is supposed to take up space and, if required, I can still scrape ice off the windscreen with it. What it won’t do is mediate any transactions – no credit, no purchases and no cash so, ultimately, no food.

I become a non-person; my entire identity being bound up in the useless artefact in my wallet, now accompanied by a new useless artefact sent as replacement by my bank. I live, in fact, on fifty-three pence for a fortnight until they tell me that the new card uses the old PIN and my existence is formally reinstated by a nice man from a call centre in Mumbai. In the meantime, I have not eaten a single cat although I doubt the courtesy would have been reciprocated had we run out of Kit-bits.



[1] Around 2005 when buying online had become a proper thing but delivery had not. One item of mine was left in the wheelie bin, which must be the ultimate in recycling innovations.


From Not Being First Fish by P Spencer-Beck.  Available from Amazon (non-illustrated edition). Second edition (illustrated) due 2018


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