Friday, December 14, 2012

Make Work

Every time I pick up a prescription, I watch the clerk find the medication, which is in a little paper sack, stapled closed, rip open the staple, dump out the bottle, scan its barcode, then put it back into the paper sack and restaple. Sometimes, the pharmacist, working at a counter, will, before my eyes, fill my prescription, put the bottle in a paper sack, staple it closed and hand it to the person waiting on me – who will rip the sack open, as he or she walks toward me, to scan the barcode. Then, he or she will put the bottle back into the sack and restaple it.

“You know,” I want to say, “that’s stupid.”

My mind races with the possibilities: put the barcode on the sack rather than on the bottle, use a clear sack, though which you can scan, don’t use a sack at all (saving some natural resources in the process), at the very least, just fold the sack over and don’t bother with the staple.

But I don’t say anything because I don’t want to look like a crank.

Last year, one of my son’s teachers would take a piece of lined notebook paper, copy it 25 times, then staple it to his sheet of homework questions 25 times and hand this out to the 25 kids. Palm to forehead.

He could just tell the kids to use a separate piece of paper. Or if he really feels he has to supply it, he could just have a stack of paper in his room.

Again, didn't say anything. No good would come of it.

1 comment:

  1. the pharmacist example is ridiculous but the teacher may have been doing a very wise thing - various social psychology studies (from the effect of building rails on a bridge frequently used for committing suicide to the effect of including a campus map with an exhortation to go to the health clinic for a flu shot or whatever) have shown the outsize importance of practical aids/barriers that one might have thought were of negligible value. yes, the most dedicated students would still have done the homework every time - but he could well have boosted the overall hw completion rate by the simple act of giving the kids the space to write their answers.