Panic button can’t be found without Google
Every Digital Slob lives in a well-defined Comfort Zone with clear demarcations -- typically, the refrigerator to the east, the TV to the north, the broadband modem to the west and a mobile unit parked outside directly to the south.
A breach at any point along these fortifications can create a fast-moving flood of Murphy's Law into our dens of tech-dependent dawdling. Such a breakdown will then suck us out into the open water of reality, where we serve as little more than chum for the shark-infested service industries.
Last week, I had critical, simultaneous cave-ins at my south, west and north perimeters. My car's radiator exploded. My Internet shut down. My cable TV went AWOL. My choices: fight back, or retreat east into my only remaining defensive position -- unfortunately, the fridge is too small to hold both me and all I would need to eat while riding out the storm.
As silly as it always sounds to the outside world, the emotional trauma of sudden, multiple Digital Age disconnects cannot be overstated.
Once in a while, someone's inner hero rises to the occasion. Last week the Washington Post reported on a phone-less, Web-less, cable-less 75-year-old woman in Virginia who was so angry at Comcast that she went to its main store and pounded office equipment into tiny bits with a hammer.
I predict she will eventually be immortalized in fable -- our era's John Henry.
As a Slob, I can relate. We know nothing interferes with quality of life more than the interruption of the very devices that shield you from the fact that you have no quality of life.
So I put my German car in the shop and waited for the estimate. First call, $120. Second call, $310. Third call, $905. The only good news was there couldn't be a fourth call -- anything over $1,000 and a team of grief counselors is supposed to make a house call.
Most mechanics fear even reaching under the hood of a German car. The engine blocks must be made out of razor blades and used hypodermic needles.
Then my cable and Internet went out. Fuming, I wanted to change providers, but I had no Internet to search for a competitor. However, I remembered Google has a free 411 service, (800) GOOG-411, and I could remember one alternative by brand name. Unfortunately, its listed number was a fax line.
I decided to exchange my modem. But without a car, I'd have to take the bus. But without the Internet, I didn't know what bus to take. I rely on www.google.com/transit to instantly give me the best bus routes. I could sooner fix my own radiator than make sense of an actual bus-route map.
So, I had to walk two miles round trip. On the return leg, I began to feel a sharp pain in my left knee. At that point, I began to wonder whether I was in the middle of the kind of moving tragedy that inspired religious texts in the eighth century.
I passed a hardware store on the way home. Tempting, but I didn't go in. Perhaps I'll settle for getting the sound of a hammer on a ringtone.