The End of the World


It really felt like the world was conspiring against me this week, or at least sending me a strong message that its end was nigh.  As I woke up to one of my busiest and longest days of the year - meetings and commitments stretched from 8 am to 11:30 pm - I couldn't get on the Internet.  This, despite the fact that all the green lights were illuminated and the yellow light was flashing on the modem - all signs that it should have been working perfectly.

Knowing full well that without my connectivity I was completely useless, I dialed up Shaw Cable, our provider, and spent the next hour on the phone with a technician who had me try everything including unplugging the modem (several times), taking it downstairs, crawling up on top of our washing machine, and plugging it directly into the line coming into the house.  I must have looked a little crazy, head in the floor joists, still in pajamas, holding up a modem in one hand while trying to screw in the cable with the other.

Effort did not equal reward in this case, as the technician on the other end of the phone line had reached the end of his menu of things to try.

"We'll have to send over a technician," he said.  "They are all booked up for tomorrow, how does the next day look?"

My brain was having a difficult time processing the fact that not only would a technician not be riding up to save the day immediately, he wouldn't be riding up tomorrow either.

There is more than one way to skin a cat, some sooth-saying sage once muttered.  I've learned through all of this that Twitter can be an effective tool to link with a well-meaning technician from said provider.  As has been the case with most of my @ShawHelp cries for assistance, it arrived virtually within minutes.  They do a great thing to let you know that there is a human being behind their tweets, ending the message with the ^ symbol followed by a set of initials.  They never ask for personal information, rather urging me into DM (Direct Message) land for a private dialogue.

It was in one of these back and forths that the Twitter tech did a re-set of the system that must have done the trick, as the Internet was back up and running by the time I got home from work on day three of my Modem Mordor.

Backing up just a bit, leaving for work on that third morning - Internet connectivity still hours from restored - I had other pressures bearing down on me, like a gas gauge flirting with empty and only a wee window of time when I could swing into a gas station for a quick fill before diving into another full day of meetings.

I drove to the nearest one, the Shell at the corner of Franklin and Hardin, but with vehicles stacked up waiting for their turn I said "Screw the Air Miles" and darted down the street to the Esso near Keyano. I pulled up, minutes to go until I was required to be in a meeting, only to find out that they had either run out of regular gas or that every single pump was on the fritz.

45 kilometres to empty, prompted the digital display on my dash, as I continued on to the college and the beginning of my work day.

Swinging down Franklin Avenue, en route to my next commitment at MacDonald Island, I went into my neighborhood Shell station, substantially quieter than it was several hours earlier.  I got out, stuck my credit card in the slot, and it was at that precise moment that I became convinced that the universe was conspiring against me, as a gaggle of employees invaded the scene putting signs on all the pumps indicating that their electronic payment systems had just crashed and that it was cash-only sales.

35 kilometres to empty.

"(Fill in vulgar expletive here)," I said, much too forcefully, as I dug into my back pocket for my wallet which instinct told me would be frightfully empty.  However, miracle of miracles, I was wrong. There sat four crisp new $20 bills, which would allow me to fill up my tank at $1.26 per litre, a full $0.26 higher than in the capital region, as I discovered on my Google search this morning.

The one thought that rose to the top during my 72 hours of digital dystopia is how dependent we've become on technology.  Who needs guns and bombs to let slip the dogs of war, all you need are a few strategic snips and some well-placed viruses to do the trick.  Society would grind to a halt as manual overrides no longer exist.  We look at our computer networks and Internet connectivity the way we viewed electricity a generation ago.  This hyper-connectivity is no longer a luxury, it has become a necessity, something we take completely for granted.

Sitting in front of my computer, iTunes delivering a beautiful John Coltrane album that someone suggested on Facebook, writing this blog, it feels like that, once again, all is right in the world; and that, perhaps, the apocalypse will stay away just a little bit longer.

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