It feels like this is the story of my life at the moment.
There’s not much you actually do directly yourself in the 21st-century West. For one thing, the majority of actions still require others’ involvement. For another, most significant undertakings are done through the medium of a computer, an internet connection, an institution’s mainframe database, etc. etc. It fits very well with French indirect verbs as I remember them from school – ‘cook (something)’ is ‘faire cuire’ which would literally be ‘make cook’, or more clunkily but more clearly ’cause to cook’ – because you don’t personally boil the water, the gas hob does that, you just make the gas hob do it.
And so you wait ten minutes for a page to load because your internet connection’s thrown a wobbler. You wait four days for a Doodle to be filled in. You wait without knowing how long it’ll be for your registration as a music rights holder to be processed.
And then Doodle doesn’t save one person’s responses. Or you can’t log in to the website anyway. Or when you get an update on your sheet music order, it’s only to say five out of six items are still on order from the publishers, without giving an ETA. Or it turns out there’s only one weekend day between the start of April and the end of June that all of your quartet might be able to meet when you need (by your reckoning) at least three separate meetups to get off the ground.
And there’s nothing I can do about these things as such. Some of them I can’t impact at all but can hope will change – wait, refresh the page, maybe send a query to customer services, try again tomorrow. Some require trying to change the terms of the problem, since the situation won’t change and can’t be lived with indefinitely. They’re the really frustrating ones – where nothing will happen without my further input, but it seems like I’m being presented with a problem neither of my own making nor within my control (like the lack of overlap between other people’s diaries).
It’s at points like this that the reward of being a professional musician seems almost infinitely deferred, rather than, as is often imagined, almost completely immediate (well, you play don’t you? And isn’t that fantastic? … say the people who haven’t tried to not touch their bank account over a weekend in hopes that some pay will come through to save them going overdrawn or pulling even more out of their so-called savings).
And then you get offered a better-paid gig on a day you’re already committed to playing something, and want to just go back to bed and pull the covers over your face.