Saturday, May 24, 2008

Internet Siberia

I’ve been enduring a self-imposed exile in internet Siberia since March. That means I spend most of my working hours in an office with no e-mail, no Google, no Drudge and no Jump The Shark. I can’t read headlines, check the baseball box scores, or see if the weather’ll be suitable to golf the following day.

If I want to check out some porn, I have to don a disguise and head down to the newsstand and pay for it just like they used to in the horse-and-buggy days.

It wasn’t always like this. When I moved into this office, I’d found one of two apartment neighbors in the second floor above this little Latrobe, Pennsylvania, tavern was beaming a strong Wifi signal. It was coming from behind the door with the pulsing rap music and lingering scents that might start a narcotic dog to barking.

I knocked on his door and made the following proposal: The two of us can either continue enriching Verizon to the total tune of $60 a month, or you could give me your password and I’ll pay you $15 a month to freeload off your WiFi. Here’s a check for the first six months.”

He said, “Cool!” I said, “Thanks!” and within 90 seconds a nearly impenetrable wall of marijuana smoke began filling the hall.

And for the next 12 months everyone but Verizon stockholders rejoiced.

Then he sent me a note saying he’d lost his job with a local landscaping crew. Who knew even they were drug testing? But he was gone and he was taking his Wifi with him.

Verizon said they could hook me up for, ouch, $50 a month. That was steep for a guy who’s been in a persistent earnings lull since what seems like the past 15 years. Plus, I’ve been despisin’ Verizon ever since my first traipse through the voice mail hell that is the starting point for their technical assistance or billing complaint.

So I’m sort of in Internet Siberia. I have it at home and I can go cherry pick it from any a couple of local restaurants or at our cozy local library. But as far as days in office go, I’m working without a net, or without the ‘net.

The lesson so far is, if I’m ever the boss of anyone but myself, the first thing I’m getting rid of is their internet connection.

I’m a much better employee without the distracting cornucopia of trivia that comes pouring out of my computer.

I guess the obvious next step is to paint my little window black.

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