The Diagnostic Computer


Ted is in a pub chatting over a pint (or two) with some friends when he happens to comment “You know, my elbow hurts like hell. I think I’d better see a Doctor.”

One of the others replies “I shouldn’t bother if I were you. You’ll spend a couple of hours sitting in the waiting room with a bunch of hypochondriacs and people with contagious diseases, probably catch something you didn’t go in with, then when you finally get to see the quack he won’t know what’s wrong with you anyway. Probably just give you some pills and tell you to shove off.”

Another chips in: “I’ll tell you what, if you go down to Tesco’s they’ve got a new diagnostic machine in the foyer. You just give it a urine sample and it diagnoses the problem then prescribes a course of treatment. It’ll cost you a tenner, but far better than messing around with some doctor, and you get Club card points.”

So the following day, Ted takes a urine sample down to Tesco’s, locates the machine, inserts the urine sample, swipes his credit card (and his Clubcard of course) and waits for the result.

The machine whirs into life and thirty seconds later, it produces printout reading “You have a sprained elbow. Bathe your arm in warm water three times a day and avoid heavy activity. It will clear up in about two weeks.”

He follows this advice and after a day or two starts to see some improvement, but, being an engineer, he starts to wonder how clever this machine really is. So he fills a bottle with some tap water resolving to try the machine with this.

Later on, he takes the dog for a walk and is just about the dispose of the dog’s ‘call of nature’ when it occurs to him to add this to the bottle as well.

Not being satisfied with that, he also collects urine samples from his wife and daughter before setting off once more for the pub.

Later that night, he staggers back in and his wife (unsurprisingly) wants nothing to do with him. But there had been a rather busty barmaid in the pub and he feels unable to just leave it at that, so he wanders into the bathroom and tosses himself off. Coincidentally, the sample bottle is in the bathroom as well, so he scapes some of the mess off of the mirror and sticks that in as well.

The following day, he hurries back to Tesco’s keen to see what the machine will make of this lot. He puts the sample into the machine, swipes his card (and Clubcard) and awaits the verdict.

The machine whirs into life again, but this time starts to make a lot of strange noises. A minute goes by, then two minutes, then three and an irritable queue starts to form behind him. After five minutes, fearing he’s broken the machine, he starts thinking about doing a runner when suddenly the machine ejects the printout.

He picks it up and starts reading:

“Your tap water is hard. Get a softener.

Your dog has worms. Get him to a vet.

Your wife is pregnant but not by you. Get a lawyer.

Your daughter is on cocaine. Get her to a clinic.”

And at the bottom a footnote adds “And if you don’t stop playing with yourself, your elbow will never get better!”

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