Why Me?

Could you live without the Internet? It would mean that instead of checking the news and sports any time of the day or night you would have to listen to the radio or watch television or read the newspaper.
It would mean that instead of typing into a search engine the name of a movie star or film title to find out more detail, you would have to ask another live human being what they know about the subject or worse, go to the library and find out for yourself.

Last week Monday evening after 9pm and having finished a remote connection session into a client’s computer system, the dsl modem went beserk. At first, it teased me by showing all steady green lights on the control panel. After unplugging the little black rectangular box and reconnecting it and also rebooting the computer, the modem would play a further game of cat and mouse. The power light stayed steady. The ethernet indicator showed that there was nothing wrong with the network card on the computer. It was that doggone red dsl light that kept flashing and mocking me.

In desperation, I called the internet service provider who did tests on his end and calmly agreed that the dsl modem was toast. He reassured me that a replacement modem would be sent out overnight at no charge. My thankful words were, “great! What time of the day do you think they will deliver it?”

The tone of his voice hardly changed as he spoke again, “I’m sorry. I said ‘overnight’ but because it is already close to 10pm, I mean that they will overnight it tomorrow. You should get it the following day.”

I limply thanked him but requested his name so that if someone else in that organization decided to play games with my emotions, I would have a contact to blame. After I hung up, it quickly dawned on me that I would not know what to do with myself the next day. I had no on-site client visits to make to help pass the time. Help me! I need my blankety-blank Internet!

And then I got to thinking about what if this was thirty-five or forty years ago. There was no computers, modems or Internet to be concerned about. How did we manage? The same goes with cell phones and cable television. I didn’t get a cable tv connection until the mid-1980’s. Six or seven channels was good enough. I never had to worry about the tv signal. It was always free and accessible as long as there was a ‘rabbit ears’ antenna attached to the set. Okay, so now I have two hundred more channels to surf using a remote control and I’m still not satisfied with what’s available to view. But now when the cable connection goes out, I feel helpless and a sense of loss, convinced it will never come back.

The same with cell phones. Who ever thought even in 1980 that one day we would all be walking around out on the street bumping into each other not watching where we were going because we were looking at our cell phones? If I don’t go out of the house with the phone safely snapped into my belt holster I feel naked, like Wyatt Earp without his six shooters.

Thirty years ago I didn’t worry about needing to talk to someone as I approached his or her house to let he or she know I was pulling up. I just drove up, honked or got out of the car, knocked on the door or rang the bell. Nowadays, you have to provide coordinates and ETA’s, “okay I am now at the corner of McCormick and Touhy. I should be over in five minutes or less. Be waiting outside.”

We all got used to flying to other cities across the country by the time the 1970’s rolled around. You throw a tantrum if a plane is delayed or grounded but more than forty years earlier, you would have had to take a slow train that could mean an overnight excursion.

My new dsl modem arrived on schedule but it didn’t work. The dsl light did stay a steady green but the box stubbornly refused to accept authentication to the Internet. It was finally resolved after a couple of phone calls to the point I was now talking to a high level technician in San Francisco who magically pushed a button where he was and rebuilt the digital signal in my telephone line. He said I could call anytime and would be glad to help. Anyone want his number?

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