Monday, November 14, 2005

Back in time...

My 15-month-old DSL modem started fritzing out in August, refusing to connect whenever it rained, early in the morning, or when I stood too close to it. It finally went out for good the week before last. After spending 20-odd hours on the phone with Earthlink Pakistan, my new best friend Naseem (a.k.a. “Sam”) and I decided I needed a new DSL modem. Because I had to pay for the new one with my own money, and was unwilling to pay an additional 30-odd dollars to have it shipped two-day air, I had to wait for UPS ground. For six days.

During the six day wait, I reverted to dial-up. Dial-up! The “squeeeescrrccchhsquee” sound alone makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. But surfing the made me realize how much better my life is because of high-speed Internet access. I know there are people out there who still use telephone modems, but I am positive they don’t listen to podcasts or NPR live feeds, update web sites, juggle five open web pages at once, or surf photo blogs. It made me feel like Caddie Woodlawn, like I should be wearing shoes that button with a tool and churning my own butter. Sitting there and darning my socks while I waited for graphics to load, I wondered if I will ever reach a point in my life when I yearn for the “good old days” — a time before digital cable, DSL, GPS, TiVo, Netflix, and online bill pay.

I have considered wishing to be a teenager again (I don’t actually make the wish, because I don’t want to end up in some Freaky Friday/13 Going on 30 situation). At 16, I could lose three lbs. in a day. At 18, I didn’t know what a hangover was. At 20, my skin was dewy fresh and my ass was two inches higher than it is now. But am I really willing to give up 10-plus years of technology for a faster metabolism and the ability to drink a grown man under the table? Doubtful. Yes, the Internet was around 10 years ago, but I didn’t depend on technology the way I do now. I can’t remember the last time I used a real phone book. I don’t rent DVDs in person. I order tons of stuff online. I keep track of most of the day-to-day functions of my life using a computer or Blackberry.

On the 6th day, I missed the UPS delivery and sat on my front steps, clutching the yellow slip and weeping. On the following day, I left the office early so I could lie in wait find out what Brown could do for me. Four o’clock...nothing. Five, still no UPS. By the time six o’clock rolled around, I was testing the doorbell and peering through the blinds every 10 minutes. At 6:30, I finally gave up and decided to eschew all technology, become a Luddite, and spend the rest of my life buying musical toilet seats from mail-order catalogs and baking cookies for my co-workers.

At 7 p.m., as I was disconnecting power cords and trying to decide if it would be environmentally safe to burn the DVD player in the fireplace, I heard a shuffling noise on the front porch and ran to the window to see a brown uniform sprinting away from my house and toward his truck. Beating on the glass and screaming, “wait!” didn’t slow him down, so I ran to the front door and wrenched it open just as Brown pulled away from the curb and zero-to-sixtied in about 10 seconds down the street.

Sticker on the door? No sticker on the door. Just as I decided to (hand) write a strongly worded letter telling Brown exactly what it could do for me, I looked down and saw a small box with an Earthlink logo on its side. “Mine!” I squealed, and snatched it to my chest. It’s sick, but I actually embraced the box and kissed it (no tongue) twice before going back inside.

It took me less than five minutes to have working DSL again, during which time I completely forgot about my promise that I would swear off all things technological. And like any addict, I spent the rest of the evening pretending that seven days of withdrawal hadn’t given me nightmares about being pursued by giant screeching modem monsters, made me itch like invisible bugs were crawling under my skin, or caused me to offer certain “services” to the UPS man if he could “hook me up.”

Think this was off the deep end? You should see me during a power outage.


  1. Excellent. You should put that in Skirt. Surely a new modem counts as a new beginning, right? And you're totally lying, because I know damn well you gave that package tongue. After six days, I'd named my firstborn child, "Brown."

    I well remember the days of waiting for BellSouth to fix my internet troubles...the hold music, the futile shuffling from technician to technician, the hurling of the cell phone across the room in hysterical fury. I feel your pain, and I ache for you. Welcome back to the land of the living.

  2. Hee. "Sessions in Computer Funnery" should be a dual entry of ours in Skirt, dude.

    I spent the past seven days trying to fix a sad Mac and spent the past three hours trying to fix a sad Dell server and the joy I felt when the sad Dell server actually WORKED about twenty minutes ago made me get up out of my chair and dance a little jig.

    There's nothing like having your computer shit work, Kell. Nothing at all.


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