Panic has set in at my house.
It’s as crisp and as tangible as hair-raising electricity, sharp as a floor full of tacks, and capable of creating irreparable organ damage from the anxiety-ridden heart palpitations taking place. We’ve been cut off. Specifically, the little optic fibers meant to supply juice to our technologically dependent family have been severed.
We are addicts and our drug of choice has been snatched away, brutally and without warning.
And … on a holiday weekend.
This Labor Day three day festival is turning out to be a labor-less one, as far as our phones and Internet are concerned. And did I receive a memo about this? Nope. No one said, “Hey lady, if it’s okay with you, we’re going to shut down the overworked, desperately needed, wholly depended upon nerve center of your home for … awhile, alrighty?”
No, not alrighty.
Not alrighty at all.
Blood is beginning to spill out of my ears from hearing the teenage trauma as realization sinks in. We’ve lost all connection to the outside world. Studies have shown that if you allow this to happen to adolescents for any length of time longer than it takes to make a sandwich, neurological damage begins to take place. Synapses disconnect and their little points of contact shrivel and retract. I’m quite certain that Internet access is the same as sunshine to the plant kingdom, gas to a car, or a camera flash to Kim Kardashian.
No juice, no point in going on.
Find cliff. Leap off.
Everyone is looking around wondering what to do, baffled and bewildered that this could be happening. It’s almost as bad as discovering that air decided not to show up for work today.
Normally, something like this happens when there’s a massive storm, four feet of swirling snow, or there are trees down county wide from a slicing wind and rain storm. But that hasn’t happened. The sun is out, the grass is glistening with dew, birds are flitting about doing bird-like business. And there’s a thin blanket of mist in the valleys below us. Morning fog. Wispy bits nearly transparent and sylph-like. I am positive that fog does not have physical fingers capable of finding the plug that connects our house to the world and yanking said plug from its outlet. There is nothing to blame it on.
I run downstairs into the utility room to scan the panels of blinking lights and machines that ping. I make my way through miles of wiring, and I wriggle around pipes that snake from floor to roof, pass through concrete walls and zigzag their way like thickly-roped spider webs across the ceiling. I find the receptacles that house all lines and cables relating to technology and magic, as they are one and the same to me. Some lights flash and others flicker. The important ones are dark or blaze in angry red tones signaling their lack of life or surfeit of irritation. Even these machines echo the family’s disposition.
I unplug everything and standby. I do yoga while waiting the requisite amount of time so as not to waste the minute and hope it will improve my mood. I replug and watch.
Perhaps I’ve done it incorrectly.
Wrong order? Too quick? Didn’t say the magic words?
I try again and decide to throw in a minute of holding my breath for good measure. I think positive thoughts and shine the basement flashlight on the box thinking maybe it just needs ‘healing white light.’
Nope. It needs a technician. Or a good spanking.
I search the house and yard for any place I might be able to get a signal in order to phone in and report our outage. I find one in the closet that gives quarter to the cat’s litter. I scan an object with real pages and inked printing, giving me direction to the telephone number of the one person out there who can take on my troubles and ease my family’s distress.
There is a plethora of numbers. I try them all. One by one, and even though they are listed as specific departments, they arrive at the same desk: the automated hotline. Businesses do not answer telephone calls any longer. Businesses have business to do. They have money to make, not problems to solve. Promises to guarantee, not satisfaction to deliver.
I give up playing the game by the rules since those on the other end have none. I mess with the machine and press buttons that they did not offer as an option. This often produces an individual whose game of solitaire or updating of Facebook was interrupted. They’re usually not pleased.
I provide the details. More than they need. Phone numbers, addresses, shirt size and bank account sums as incentive. Do what you will with it, just make the magic happen again, please. Can’t you hear the children suffering in the background?
He does not.
He issues “a ticket for service.”
Sometime, maybe soon, depending upon availability and mood, someone may or may not attempt to unravel your puzzle. Don’t hold your breath.
I know, I say, I tried that already and it didn’t work.
Well, you have yourself a good holiday weekend. Maybe spend some time with the kids, eh?
I sigh, disconnect the call from my cell phone and go to the game cupboard.
I bring a stack of possible pastimes and place them on the table before my offspring. “Puzzle?” I offer. “Board game? Checkers? Gin Rummy?”
They stare at me blankly, eyes wide and unregistering.
The phone rings. THE LANDLINE PHONE!
It works! We are saved! We have been rejoined!
We bow down to the mighty, joyful ring, displaying our gratitude.
We will always remember the holiday we nearly spent together. We laugh about it now.
Don’t forget to check out what we’re cookin’ in the Scullery (here) and what we all talked about down in the pub (here). And to see more of Robin Gott‘s humor–all from the only pen carved from a human funny bone–click here.
- The 12 Step E-Tox: How To Curb Your Electronic Device Addiction (huffingtonpost.com)
- Survey Reveals People Who Still Own a Landline Phone Are Falling Way, Way Behind the Times (k99.com)
- Going off the grid (off-grid.net)
28 thoughts on “Out of touch”
I like ‘sylph-like’. My auto spell check does not. I have felt your IT withdrawal pain before. Very entertaining, sorry it was at your expense! X
Yes, auto spell and I rarely find a spell of agreement. It’s a constant battle — mainly because I like to make up words. I just don’t think our language has enough ways to express the most important things in my life. Like whisky, chocolate and breathing.
As always, I’m so grateful you took the time to read, Ardys! Cheers to you. xx
Hysterical! I love your writing style and illustrations.
Being out in the country, this is very likely to happen to us too, which is one reason why we invested in a little generator (to keep freezer going), which so far has only come out of the box to test it. We have a multi fuel stove and discovered last winter that the pressure cooker works perfectly well on that so who needs electricity to make stew!!
An excellent start to the day. Looking forward to your next posts.
It’s an eye-opening experience to realize just how attached to the technological cocktail we all are. I’ve got to sign up to become a girl scout and start learning how to make fire with nothing but a hairpin, some duct tape and a good attitude.
Thanks for reading! Cheers
Too funny. Can you imagine if we all had iPhones to carry around, on top of everything else, back in our KIDS days?? lol
How many of them do you think we’d find smooshed in between two risers as we’d be unloading the truck? And who do you think would have been nailed for checking theirs on the bandstand in between numbers? Ha!
lol.. Wendy (last name?) would have lost hers. Stevie Haines for checking it all the time. I just saw Brenda & Duane Grove last week in Wisconsin – was so great to see them (although Brenda hadn’t changed ONE SINGE BIT!!).
Oh – who is this Rob that does your illustrations?? He is fabulous!!
Dear Jen – I’m delighted that you like my doodles. There’s a whole bunch of them over at http://www.robingott.com
Drop in and take a look 🙂
Wow – the doodler is a real person! How cool, will definitely check out your site!!
Actually, Rob is just a stick figure come to life. Seeing as though we’ve never met face to face, I can only assume that he magically exists solely behind my monitor’s screen. But I believe in him–much like I do fairies. Only this one has a slight Swedish lilt to his English accent and survives mostly on pickled fish and stout ales.
After realizing that we have new bills created from the comtron service of internet/communication/phone/house power/toilet flushing services (i.e. holding tank), anything else that is besides relieving oneself outside, naturally by a tree and without a “tax” or bill… I have found that where we reside, detaching or unplugging as you have stated has rather created a sense of zen. Besides, actually paying for these services do not actually mean that we will at concurrent times receive thus stated agreement; we just pay for the hope of service. If actually received, well, that’s just a bonus.
Less bills, complicated and ever conversely changing as they are, it is a bit more relaxing to get back to nature, unplug for longer than a day and just be. Think about it… detach, and just be. We’ve become a society too dependent on news news and news; irrelevant to our personal or family daily lives.
Let go and live. Weed your garden, watch the sun rise and set, smoke more peat braised beef short ribs and take flight more often as you use to to view God’s world from above before He (or She) takes you up, permanently. Don’t forget to spend time with your kin… ALL of them. Let go of any grudges and live. Unplug and just be.
Sorry for the novel. Off to pick apples with the family after church.
Who needs iTunes with your heavenly little choir of angelic voices?
…being forced to giggle over and over again when you don’t feel like it is harsh.
y’done good here.
Wait … I thought laughter was the best medicine? Are you ill? If so, maybe I can reverse the order of things and make you weep with some of my horrific poetry next week. It’s really bad. Most of it rhymes. It’s weep-worthy.
Nah, I’m okay. I really did like your schtick, tho. A story or two more from you, and I should be fine. No pressure.
Another gem of yours (including the illustrations!)…..loved it!
And yes, its only when we are cut-off, do we realise that technology is holding all of us in a very tight grip. 🙂
I’m trying to sever the hand–one finger at a time, but it’s got a choke hold on my family. UGH!! I wonder if they make a patch for weening us off?
Your ability to string words together is fabulous! I had to print out your post to highlight my favs. Let me just say you’re one incredibly gifted woman when it comes to words and Rob is one gifted man when it comes to doodles. The two of your together are … I need to come up with an adjective that describes it. Dynamite? Incredible? Powerful? Awesome? They seem too blah. I’ve got it. You’re “shelrob — adj. energetic state of being which results when words and doodles combine to create an explosive state of creativity that delights, entertains & informs.” *grins ala Cheshire Cat.*
An explosive state of creativity? Wow. I want that in vitamin form.
Brilliant, Tana. 😉
Very entertaining as usual. I love your illustrations and your lovely sense of humor. I laugh out loud sometimes while going through your post. Sure enough without technology we are totally lost.
Sadly enough, even with technology I am totally lost.
I so appreciate you reading. I appreciate you laughing maybe just a smidge more. 😉
That did make me laugh – although half in uneasy recognition. As a family that lives in a not-quite-so-remote-but-perhaps-equally-poorly-served-with-reliable-communications location I can so sympathise with the struggle to get it all working again and the looks of despair on their little faces as they realise that you can’t. And that’s only the dog…
Someday, I would like to meet the family that’s used in the commercials to make us think that all the gadgetry is slick and simply a snap of a finger away. I’d like to live where they live for a week. And maybe count how many technicians ring the doorbell. If it’s less than a baker’s dozen, I’m going to become a squatter.
A million thanks for reading, Laura! Hope you got your fella back to Uni. 😉
Hilarious! We are way too technologically dependent these days. Your short anecdote provides an accurate visualization of this. I did wonder about halfway through it how you wrote this if your had no internet.
There have been many a night–just before posting–where I’ve literally panicked with an Internet glitch or a computer hiccup. It’s surely going to happen one of these days. That’s when I’ll find myself getting in the car to drive the half hour into town to locate an all-night coffee shop with free wi-fi just so I can post my blog. I’m a ticking time bomb. *sigh*
I actually had a similar problem last night when trying to send in a paper through a weird system that I’d never used before. I clicked send and then watched the screen for 45 min. while it said it was loading. Then I opened up a different browser, repeated the process, and watched for two seconds, and then it said it was submitted. But that 45 minutes was hell.