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Old 08-17-2009, 11:31 AM   #1
Richard Waller
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Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Goring-by-Sea, West Sussex UK
Posts: 732
Default Welcome to the Off-Line world

A long one this. Sorry.

I am without TV, Internet, and telephone. I have been for a week. A
boy-racer failed to execute a hand-brake turn and destroyed the pavement junction box that serves my house and 60 others with cable. A splintering crash just after midnight on Sunday 9th August.

First thing Monday I rang the kind lady in Mombai on my mobile phone, and got through after about 4 sets of options and ten minutes wait, and gave her the sob-story. She could not promise to get help to me til Tuesday. No problem; I will wait. But she wanted to check that I would be in otherwise she would charge me £10 for a wasted call. But it is not my problem, I told her. The damage is in the street; a jagged heap of twisted metal, half blocking the pavement. No; the technician will want to get into my house.

But Tuesday was no good for me, nor was Wednesday. What about Thursday morning. Ok; only three days to wait.

8am Thursday the doorbell rang. My wife was in the shower but luckily I was just back from taking the dog out. Spoke to the technician and led him by the hand back out to the street and pointed out the broken box. Oh; he couldn't fix that. Needs the construction team. When can they come. Saturday afternoon. OK; I suppose.

Got back from family lunch Saturday. Rude note on the doorstep. Technician called; where was I? £10 charge for failed call. Rang India again. They promised to cancel the £10 charge and a team would be with me Monday afternoon.

So a week off line. Only four channels of TV instead of 160, and those channels all fuzzy with interference from France. Using a mobile phone at vaste expense instead of free local calls. No Internet so have to get the car out and go to the supermarket, the bank, the library, a shop in town to buy trousers, the postoffice to get the car licence; long queue at each. Buy a local paper for the local news, get a tide table from the beach office, write and post a letter using an actual pen. Dig out the paper maps from the attic instead of using Multimap. Find a dictionary instead of Wikipedia. Have to actually think about crossword clues instead of getting an instant answer from Google. Gossip over the garden fence instead of the on-line forum. A life just like it used to be before Internet was invented just 20 years ago.

But I am getting more exercise walking the dog, and getting the gardening done.

Today, Monday, we are back to civilisation. I am in touch with the real world again. Yes I did consider changing to Sky, but they take 15 days to install. And we have thought about 16 channels of TV on Freeview, but I would need an expensive new aerial on the roof. How can I avoid having all my eggs in one basket for the next time the boy-racers cut me off from life?

Eight days off-line. And when the proper man did appear it took him eight minutes to prize the front off the junction box, eight minutes to replace a broken plug and we are away. Actually only one other house was disconnected; I could not find out who. Plus a number of people without phone. Apparently people are slow to report phone faults; they are grateful for the peace and quiet, until they need to make a call themselves. They will replace the shattered box when they get round to it.

Richard Waller

Last edited by Richard Waller; 08-20-2009 at 11:11 AM.
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