Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A colleague's question -- and an immediate answer

"Why," my colleague asked in exasperation, "do people wait until the last possible minute" -- a more colorful modifier may have been inserted -- "to ask impossibly complex tax questions?"

I know nothing about taxes except that I must (and do) pay them. (That's for Uncle Sam, if the Feds are monitoring.) But I know about last minute demands for immediate answers to complex questions.

It is the age in which we live: We don't have to wait for the tubes to warm up anymore. We are in a solid-state, instant-on age and this expectation has permeated all levels of our daily activities.

I noticed it when fax machines first came in: The request could be made quicker, so a response was expected with equal celerity. But the complexity of the issue prompting the fax hadn't changed -- so the expectation was foolish. This was not an argument to have with clients, however.

E-mail is even faster than faxing. Instant messaging faster still. We can present our issues immediately, and fully grown, like Athena from the side of Zeus. And we demand answers now while the question is still burning, white hot in our minds.

Technology has, as this illustration shows, made life far more difficult for those in contemplative professions.

As have anti-smoking regulations also: Before, we could pause, re-light our pipe, puff awhile as if considering the compiled wisdom of the Ancients, before pronouncing, with grave certainty, "It depends." A promise to research the issue would follow. "It depends" just doesn't look the same when you click Reply on the e-mail. Maybe if I tried a different font?

1 comment:

Karen said...

I am adding your blog to my favorites. My son is a senior in college and is wanting to practice law. I want to show him that there are nice, family man type, attorneys. Sometimes the term lawyer stands for low integrity. I hate that. Anyway, thank you for being "the good guy".