Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hacked Off

YOU ARE NOT PRESENTLY CONNECTED TO THE INTERNET – (So quit tapping pointlessly at your keyboard, ‘ya big dummy!)

The Internet repairman waved a six-inch length of cable at me. Four murderous gouges nearly severed its smooth cylindrical surface, leaving exposed wires to dissolve in the hostile atmosphere--also rain.

“Wow! Someone really went at this, probably with a shovel or maybe an ax.” He examined the gouges more closely. “Maybe a butcher knife.”

Slowly, I raised my hand and hung my head.

“I did it. I confess. I killed the cable,” I said, feeling sheepish, chagrined, and goofy all rolled into one. “I thought it was just a really stubborn root when I was planting caladiums. Really, really stubborn! A bad stubborn . . . root.”

“You might want to hang on to this.” He handed me the butchered hunk of Internet cable.

“Please, don’t tell my family. This isn’t the first time I killed the cable. The first time, I wasn’t anywhere near it when I ran over it with the lawnmower.”

He began to inch his way to his repair truck, never taking his eyes off of me.

“Sure, lady, sure! Sounds reasonable!” And then under his breathe, “When Dish Network freezes over.” He ran the last few steps to his truck.

I felt bad for frightening the computer repairman that way.

When I was a girl, technical electronic difficulties were handled with tin foil and rabbit ears. There were three television channels and a lot of fuzzy static. The static came in black and white. Computers came in warehouses.

Now technical electronic difficulties are handled with modem connection adjustments, phone calls bounced off of satellites to help centers in places I can’t spell, and appointments with repairmen apparently carrying submarine sonar equipment.

A week after our Internet connection to the worldwide universe went dark, a repairman showed up at our house with his sonar-cable-finding-wand. He checked connections. He climbed poles. He dug up cable. He waved his sonar-cable-finding-wand about.

The whole process reminded me of a water diviner trying to locate water with a forked stick.

When he asked me if there had been any “digging” in the general area of the buried cable, I felt my stomach flip and then flop. Sure there had been digging.

I am a digger. I am a habitual digger. I own five shovels, which I leave stuck in random spots all over our property, and then forget where I stuck them. That’s why there are five shovels.

And no Internet service—temporarily.

There are days I long for tin foil and completing a conversation with my husband without having him go into an unblinking, unrelated conversation with the tooth in his ear. I think the tooth is blue.

Linda (Dirt Digger) Zern

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