Thursday, May 08, 2008

Filling in Forms

For some reason, some sensible filling of a stupid form by an architect has made the news. You can see the full form here.

It just seems the sensible thing to do, though the fact I'm prone to do that sort of thing quite a bit has on occasion got me into trouble. I remember filling in a risk assessment form for a school trip I was running, and including an assessment of the risk of alien abduction or nuclear war. The headmaster of course returned the form to me (with approval) pointing out that I hadn't done an assessment for an outbreak of some obscure disease.

But the time I really got some hassle was when applying for something with an organisation which I'm not going to name, but which might well rhyme with "Birch of England". This particular application seemed to filter people on the basis of their ability and liking for vast quantities of over-repetitive paperwork. So after the first two or three times of filling in personal details, I started inventing fictional children of mine with implausible Biblical names. And then came the medical form, which got unduly obtrusive about medical history of friends, relations, pets, etc.

One of the questions asked if I had restricted mobility. Now, I like clear communication, and I like avoiding jargon. And I know that "restricted mobility" is, in the way it is normally used, politically correct medical jargon for what would normally be called "physical disability". But it's actually a really stupid phrase, because "unrestricted mobility" is something that no-one has. But they didn't give me enough space to write all this, so I just commented that I couldn't fly unaided.

And a few weeks later, I got a phone call from an elderly gentleman with no sense of humour whatsoever who didn't seem able to understand that the words on the form could mean anything other than their jargon meaning. Oh well....

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