Sunday, 8 March 2009

All computers need a good thrashing

To the National Space Centre with Aunty Dee.

We home educators get around, don't we? You mustn't think it's all nailing ourselves to the kitchen table smiling inanely at maths worksheets. That's just an image the press sells you because it looks like the sort of thing we should do. School at home. With bells.

Well it's not the type of home education that goes on here. These days we're bombing around the motorways to a town near you. Probably because you have a local museum with some old shoes in it, and we'd like to see them.

Anyway, we experience many life lessons out of doors. Meeting people. In fields. At Tesco. Standing at entrance desks, trying to extract cheap tickets.

Like at the Space Centre. Now this was going fine. Until we tried to get in.

It's the computer system, apparently. Last month when we were here for Squirrel's project on outer space the computer said we must be two adults and two children. OK. Despite the fact that we are plainly one adult and three children I can go with Squirrel suddenly advancing to age 16. Especially if it saves me £1.50.

But today we are trying to convert the tickets we bought last time to an annual pass. And we are clearly one adult and three children. Worse, we have brought along another adult who doesn't have a ticket to convert to an annual pass, but who just wants to get in.

No. You can't do that. Computer says no. So the woman patiently starts punching keyboard buttons, trying to outwit the computer and work out a way to get us all in cheaply while Grit would have just taken a big mallet to the whole thing and upset everyone.

It takes a good ten minutes of jabbing letters and tutting before the machine hacks out a half dozen tickets with lots of writing on and some little passes. Now it could be me but I am having difficulty at this point correlating all of these bits of paper with all the people actually in our party. In fact I am sure I am now male, aged 12, have a beard and gift aided the Space Centre a salary of 60K backdated from 1872.

But then the worse part comes. I should have just taken the tickets and ran off. But no. I don't get it. I want to know that next time we come they will let me in, one adult and three children, paid up for the year, and they will not say, but Mrs Grit. You cannot enter with these passes. It says here you must be accompanied by two children, eight baboons, three sofas and a fridge. Now because you don't have those things, we're going to start the whole entrance thing again. That'll be £45 and you get a spare child in change.

And off we go again. Now the woman behind the till has started explaining it all to me in a very slow voice becoming louder all the time in case I am a swamp dwelling amoeba in disguise. And I can honestly say that at the end of another ten minutes clarification I still do not understand the ticketing, the machine, or anything on this planet or the next.

So I have to say OK, I no longer care. Next time, we'll see if we can get in or not. Because now I need five tickets for the planetarium star show and we have only three hours to work it out.


sharon said...

Isn't progress wonderful!

Rubberbacon said...

This was a good post. Worth procrastinating bedtime for a big laugh.

The Finely Tuned Woman said...

You hopelessly got stuck in the details and it turned into a farce, not due to you, I must add. Bureaucracy, even at the museum, oh my.

obeerg said...

Welcome to Leicester. That's how it is here...always...

Maire said...

Yes our experience too, took forty five minutes to work it out!