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My Kingdom for Bloody Bandwidth

Shakespeare never had to put up with this crap. I sit down at my computer this morning with a hot cup of fresh coffee and grand plans. I mean grand. I need to post my latest column, answer questions from confounded students, confirm an interview for tomorrow, check who’s coming to one son’s birthday party, find out who’s coming to the other son’s band practice, and complete research for a story that’s due today.

These are all tasks I accomplish online, so when I discover that my Internet is down — defunct, dead — I panic.

I call Cox for an explanation, and a recording tells me they’re having technical problems in my neighborhood. This is not news to me; this is what I called to tell them. The voice does not explain what they plan to do about it.

I click my “get mail” button just in case the connection has resumed while I was busy pounding on the phone (who uses the blasted phone anymore?), trying to find someone to shriek at.

Nothing happens. I click it again — “get mail,” “get mail,” “get mail” — hoping it will miraculously, spontaneously decide to obey. I am impotent. I am a eunuch. I am flipping the freak out.

Part of the problem is that I don’t know what’s wrong. Lacking even a rudimentary understanding of how the ‘net is connected to my home, to my screen, to the keyboard beneath my fingertips, I feel like I’ve come home to find my key doesn’t fit my front-door lock. Wha…? How could this be?

Still, it’s ridiculous to be rendered unproductive by the loss of a technology that didn’t exist when I entered the workforce. My word processing software still works, right? I’ll just type my story and send it when the connection’s working again. I mean, Shakespeare scratched out his scripts with a rudimentary quill, for chrissake.

Apparently, though, the Bard didn’t rely on Google and Wikipedia for his research. And I’m guessing good ole Bill wasn’t addicted to his online thesaurus, or required to clarify his story angle with editors who never ever answer their phones.

Which reminds me: “get mail,” “get mail.” Damn.

I feel so disconnected from the world. I don’t know what’s going on out there. What if some very cool celebrity died? What if swine flu hit Santa Barbara? What if … what if they fixed the Internet and I don’t know it because I’m too busy succumbing to hysteria?

“Get mail!” “Get mail!” Sigh.

I will have more coffee. That will be good. That is something I can do. My coffee pot is still functioning perfectly. A reliable machine. Electricity rocks.

I hear the mail truck pass by. Mail! My postman is bringing me information! He’s connecting me to society old-school style! Neither rain nor sleet nor “technical problems in your neighborhood”! But nothing in the mail today needs my attention. No checks. No bills. Not even a “last chance to renew your subscription” notice. I’m useless.

I sit back down at my computer and turn on all the other programs, just because I can. Excel. Word. iPhoto. Stickies. I open my address book. Ha! Look at that! You think I don’t have access? I’ve got access, baby. I just … need …

“Get mail,” “get mail.” Gah!

I call Cox again: “Technicians are working on the problem.”

And though I’m starting to suspect the greater problem may not be my modem, but my noggin, I find myself reciting that famous Shakespearean phrase. You know the one: “Technicians are jerk-holes.”

Published inColumns

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