12:32 – In the middle of reading an article on CNN.com, the internet stops working. Unfamiliar with legitimate news sites, I wonder if I’ve broken something.
12:35 – Panic begins to set in. Normally, resetting the modem fixes everything. But like a hunted animal, I sense that something different is happening here. I fire off an email to technical support.
“No internet. Matter of survival. Please, hurry.”
It doesn’t go through. I call them instead. Internet – 1, Me – 0.
12:40 – No word back from technical support. This isn’t good. I try refreshing the page 50 or so times, thinking perhaps I’m not concentrating hard enough. Like the final scene in Far and Away where Tom Cruise’s dying soul returns to his body when Nicole Kidman says, “I love you.” I lean in close to my computer and whisper, “I love you.” I hit refresh. Nothing.
12:50 – 18 minutes have elapsed since I last had an internet connection. What emails am I missing? Has my bank balance changed? I imagine that some tragedy has struck the world in those 18 minutes, and the worst part is not that I am unaware of my impending doom, but that everyone else knew about it before me.
12:54 – I check in on technical support. I see them in the back supply closet on the phone with Verizon, fiddling with wires. I think, “Let me guess, you’re unplugging the modem, unplugging the router, waiting 30 seconds and then plugging them back in.” In technical support parlance, this is the equivalent of a yo mama joke. Every time a technical support person tells me to do this, I imagine him gesturing to his co-workers with a jerking off motion.
1:01 – After determining that there is nothing fun my computer can do with the internet, I decide to employ diversion tactics. First, a trip to the bathroom.
1:02 – How could a trip to the bathroom only waste one minute? Are you kidding me? Could I possibly be that quick? Does time stop in the bathroom?
1:18 – Official word is in: There is an internet outage in our area. This is both comforting and maddening. Comforting because at least the problem has been discovered. Like alcoholism, it’s the first step. But a general outage means that there is absolutely nothing I can do to hasten the return of the internet. I am a castaway, and not only does my boat have a hole in it, but my boat just sank.
1:22 – The reality has set in. Like accepting the death of a relative (who will be dead for at least the next couple of hours) I move on to acceptance. I contemplate doing actual work, with a pen and paper like the cavemen did. I wonder if cavemen had any kinds of laws. I laugh at the idea of a drawing showing a caveman clubbing another caveman’s wife with a big X through it and decide to Wikipedia “cavemen laws” to see if I am right. “Server not found.” That one snuck up on me.
1:25: – People are starting to get cranky and irrational. Everyone suddenly seems lethargic and sleep-deprived. You hear conversations like:
Guy #1: “I need that contract, email it to me.”
Guy #2: “I CAN’T EMAIL IT TO YOU.” (soft sobbing)
If the Devil came to Earth, this would be his racket: trading souls for working internet connections.
1:44 – Just finishing lunch. I tried to eat slow knowing that once I was done there would be nothing left for me, but I was just so excited to have something to do that I couldn’t help myself. One guy has left the office. He walked out mumbling, “I’ll put up with my wife as long as there’s internet there.”
It is an orgy of information.
1:53 – I feel like I am in a dark, spooky mansion where a murderer has cut all the power lines, only my version is brightly lit and full of non-threatening people in business casual v-necks. Although now that I take notice, people do have a murderous look in their eyes. I feel like I am in Clue.
1:58 – I think a game of dice has broken out in the conference room. We are devolving.
2:10 – Stockholm Syndrome is setting in. People are saying things like, “Give Verizon a break – it must be hard to manage this many internet servers. I’m sure they’re doing the best they can.” If Verizon showed up right now, I’m pretty sure Kim the office slut would try to sleep with him, although she might in any event if he bought her dinner.
2:16 – It’s worse than I thought. People have resorted to talking to one another. Not just comments about what everyone’s eating for lunch, but actual conversations. Right now, I overhear a conversation between a Christian and a Jew, and they seem to be trying to understand each other’s religion. They aren’t even screaming.
2:39 – ITUNES. Good God, for a moment I forgot it existed and didn’t require an internet connection. At least if I’m going to die here I’ll go down with some good background music.
3:03 – Brooke just called me in response to the text message I sent her about my situation. “So there’s no internet? What are you doing? I don’t get it.” I told her I was writing a blog post about it. She told me to fax it to her. She laughed; I didn’t.
3:15 – The lengths to which people will go to amuse themselves: I just batted a water cap back and forth between my two index fingers for over a minute. Halfway through it became a hockey game, and when my right index finger scored, I felt happy, and then very, very sad.
3:22 – The oldest employees have begun telling stories of the 70’s when people used carbon copies and ditto machines – you know, the ones that made the great smelling tests in grade school? I’ve never seen what they look like because they were kept away in a “teachers only” area, but I imagine it being a machine with a big crank that churns out copies wet with ink. The big shocker? No one gives a shit. The copy machine works.
3;38 – Genius moment on “The Office” a few weeks ago: The staff is sitting in a meeting and Michael is giving a presentation. On the TV behind him there is a screensaver bouncing around. Everyone waits in anxious anticipation for the bouncing logo to land perfectly in the corner of the screen, and they all cheer when it does. That’s what I’m doing right now.
3:41 – A side note to the office culture – It would be interesting to study the correlation between the popularity of the internet and the popularity of the interoffice romance. My guess is that they are inversely proportionate; the rise of the internet was the fall of the interoffice romance. If anyone here was mildly attractive I would be on them like . In fact, I’m starting to think that I’ve been unfair to Marge in human resources simply because of her name. It’s probably short for Margery, which is totally hot, right? Right?
3:52 – Brooke and I just had this text message exchange:
Brooke: OMG! I hate not being able to email you. This day is dragging. What do you want for dinner?”
Me: “The internet.”
3:59 – All hope for a leisurely holiday-week workday has been dashed, although everyone has accepted their circumstances and is now trying to make the best of them. In fact, it’s almost like a snow day. Everyone has this wild look in their eye like they want to get drunk and do something crazy like go see a movie on a work night (they’re still old after all). But the experience has been bonding, as though we needed to strip each other of the internet to bare our souls.
4:25 – But wait! Like a big, black knight in shining armor, a Verizon technician just showed up at our office. I can’t imagine what he must have thought. The scene he walked into closely resembles a preschool right after nap time. People are drinking soda and aimlessly walking around the office. Some people have taken their shoes off, as though that has something to do with having internet service. But when he opened the door, everyone stopped and looked at him in amazement. It’s as if we all forgot that the front door actually opens and we are free to come and go as we please. We thought we were trapped by our own circumstances, doomed to a diversionless workday full of personal interaction, but what we learned is that, in the end, we chose to stay. To interact. To embrace this opportunity to, even if just for a day, hark back to a simpler time when people communicated by exchanging ideas, not links. We were all a bit stunned, to be honest, at how touching the moment really was, how we all detected just a tinge of regret that perhaps he would solve the problem, and our snow day would be over.
4:37 – Guy can’t fix it. I’m out of here.