By Corby Anderson
I am being methodically, malevolently denuded of an already depleted mental capacity by a wireless Internet system that taunts me mercilessly and evades capture on a regular basis.
If I could afford the monthly expense (which is to say if I avoided eating, fueling my vehicle, drinking, etc.), I would gladly pay for my own dedicated Internet line to avoid this maddening, odd circumstance that I find myself in – trying to marathon-watch the fourth season of Breaking Bad on Netflix on my shit-hot new iMac via a poached wireless connection that seems to vanish every time Brother Hank the Narc appears on screen.
“IT” – the appropriately creepy name that the gracious stewards of the ranch that I live on have given their weak-ass wireless signal – wafts in like a mirthful, rotten ghost. IT appears in my available networks list in full-bar force, only to vanish when I wearily discover IT’s renewed presence and attempt to engage in a renewed viewing of a show that I can never seem to catch up on.
Hello, big fella! I’m here! USE ME! IT howls, only to dissipate into a cloud of nothingness, leaving me with a red, spinning wheel of Netflixian frustration to ponder. I curse. I reload. I back the stream up a few seconds. I close programs. I holler. I whimper. I consume more than the recommended daily intake of alcohol (but that may indeed be unrelated.) I plead for technical mercy. I do everything in my limited internetworking experience to cajole IT into action. But like Charlie Brown lining up for a field goal attempt, my efforts end up with me foiled yet again, lying on my back and staring at space.
If the wire-free Internet weren’t invisible, matter-less, and everywhere at once (or, mostly not) I’d stab IT in the groin with a rusty butter knife.
This weekend, as I was setting up the new computer – my long-awaited, first –ever personally purchased machine that I saved every nickel for over the past few months, I went out and bought a wireless range extender – some cockamamie device that is supposed to boost the area’s available wireless signals. Then I spent an hour on tech support with some Linksys agent who prefaced each instruction with “kindly please.”
Predictably, this brain-numbing programming effort worked for a total of about 30 minutes, during which IT appeared on my list of available wireless signals. Approaching cautiously, expecting the virtual football to be yanked once more, I clicked around the link in every direction. IT hung around, all four bars gleaming invitingly into the distrustful rods and cones of my jilted eyes. Finally, feeling like something Technically Important had occurred, I clicked IT.
Then, as if life had always been this simple, the Internet fired right up. Netflix launched into the episode I had previously watched in five-second spurts with dazzling speed. The extension had WORKED! IT was compliant. I had broken IT’s rebellious spirit.
“Thank the Lord! Or Steve Jobs, or whoever is running the weird spectacle that we all bumble through, because we’ve got high speed connectivity!” I yelled silently. (Better to not to wake the wife. She avoids computers with Luddite passion, reads books and falls asleep at a normal hour.)
I’ve never been a fan of the term “it goes without saying,” mostly because it is generally always followed with a direct contradiction, but in this case it really does go without saying just how important the Net is in our lives these days. Hardly a single job, task, event, duty, hobby, or responsibility can be accomplished without some necessary component of Internet.
And now, thanks to my impressive technical support dialing skills, I had accomplished total, harmonious internetical SYNC with the neighbors’ Internet signal. IT has personally approved of my equipment choices and invited me into IT’s world. Good ol’ Hank was back on his feet again, shaking off an assassin’s bullet to his spine.
In the immortal words of Gilby, the freckled kid from Guam who tormented me in the street games of my youth: “NOTTTTT!”
Just as easily as IT had come, IT went, taking my spirit with IT. Then IT appeared again. Oh Hi! Ca-lick. Then, gonzo…
Brutal, pervasive frustration reigns. Remember dial up? No? Here, let me remind you.
IT makes that crazy-making dialup “speed” of yore seem like a live HD shot from Mars.
I would tether the fucker to my phone, but I learned THAT harsh lesson a few months back, when in a fit of ignorance, perhaps exacerbated by an extended homebound flu, I decided to see what the Personal Hotspot function of my new cell phone was all about by watching the entire show run of The Wire, back to back to back to ohmygodwhatisthis$500billfromAT&fuckingT?
Did I mention that this connectivitease happens only when Hank the Narc is on screen? Isn’t that ODD? What sort of superfreaky juju does THAT character have over me? And why has IT channeled Hank the Narc into my own personal Lucy? Am I supposed to skip those scenes? Is there something GOING ON here? Is the entire internet possessed by some sort of paranoid Meth-crazed jokester?
Or is it just me? Can someone Kindly Please email me an answer? Better yet, mail IT.
*This story originally appeared in the Oct. 2012 release of the literary journal The Flip Collective.