Armageddon and other inconveniences

The world ended today, here in Santa Cruz County. Vandals cut through several fiber optic cables and dumped a hefty patch of Northern California into the 1980s. Tens of thousands of people were completely cut off from the world. Computers did not communicate, cell phones went silent, land lines hummed with the noise of desperate neurosis. ATM machines went dark, credit card sales were refused, as our corner of the state returned to a cash or barter economy. Emergency calls did not go through: the police recommended that in a medical emergency, people should drive to the hospital. If they needed the fire department or police they should stand in the street to flag one down. Or they could drive to the nearest department and on the front of the building they would find a, er, well, a telephone…

I, however, knew nothing about it. I had nice calm morning working, my slow-but-adequate satellite Internet connection making do, and no phone calls to interrupt me. Until I wandered blithely down from my little hilltop world at two in the afternoon to record an interview with my radio friend Rick Kleffel, and found him tearing his hair in frustration at the lumps of inert metal and plastic on his desk, and the world outside his windows seeking the terrorists who had done this and contemplating electronic Armageddon.

Made me wonder, if it had been the real thing, how long would it take me to find out that the world had ended?

Comments

  1. Carlina says:

    Goodness! Poor Rick. He seems to be such a sweet fellow in the few interactions I’ve had with him. I hope he has recuperated.

    Sorry your area got “terrorized.” Any word on who the culprits were? I can only imagine the younger generation without their cellphones to text each other madly. Any reportings of mass hysteria induced by withdrawals related to lack of the internet or cellphones?

    You can look at it this way. Had the world ended, you would have survived it 🙂 .

  2. I can remember – just! – the 80s with fondness… However, I can’t remember the day, or month, or year, when we realised how much we depended on technology. If that happened here, and Scotland was cut off from the rest of the world, I think I might even breathe a sigh of relief. Pause. Except then I couldn’t be typing this and joining in…

    But I COULD read the Language of Bees, my ARC having arrived from you this week and for which I again offer many, many thanks!

  3. strawberry curls says:

    This story made me want to pat my laptop and broadband card. I’m afraid I’m addicted to the internet and would have a difficult time without it. **shudder**
    –Alice

  4. I’ve had occasional, frustrating, breaks in internet access through the afternoon: was unkindly accusing my (still only 6-months old) computer of malfunctioning, and feeling fiercely dissatisfied. However, then I heard on KCRW about your plight up north, and thought, ‘how lucky am I, to have even sporadic coverage today.’ Glad you ‘survived.’

  5. When the computer goes down at the supermarket or the library while I’m in line, I always mention to the librarian that the first thing to go in a nuclear strike would be electronic communications. I don’t exactly enjoy telling them that, but I’ve gotten some interesting responses.

  6. Bill Mosteller says:

    Some years ago I was doing software support in an office down a hall, no access to sunlight. I called some half dozen customers back and left messages on phone mail systems. The suspicion arose that we’d had a nuclear attack and the only thing left was me and these phone mail systems. So I left my office and walked down the hall to discover that life as we knew it was still going on.

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