Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Haunted in Alabama

AOG, Madrid

It is a fact of modern life that the more gadgets we purchase to make our lives easier, the more complicated they become. How many of us are still in the process (20 years late) of setting the clock on the VCR? Or programming the thing? Hundreds, nay, thousands of us.

Technological companies, in their zeal to make us buy their products, normally add a zillion features which none of us really needs. Or wants.

I remember a few years ago when my sister bought me a mobile phone as a birthday gift. It was a Nokia clunker with a green screen and an antennae which stuck out on one side. Very de riguer at the time. I loved that phone.

You could change the cover to suit your mood. It stayed with me for years. Then, unfortunately, it broke. I don’t know what happened to it. It never came with me on vacation (unlike now) and it lived a pretty good life. I was very upset when I had to have it put down.

Given that, by then, I was hooked on wireless communication, like the rest of the planet, I had to find a replacement. My phone provider at the time (One to One, or as my sister lovingly called it, One to None) had accrued many points on my behalf.

It had also decided unilaterally to cancel my initial contract ( I used to get 30 minutes free calls per month for, I believe, ₤ 12.00 a month or something like that). I was incensed but they had a plan. I could get an upgrade of up to ₤80. Right. What a nightmare that turned out to be.

I went to local phone house on Victoria street in London. And so it began. First obstacle- price plans. “You get 350 free minutes every month and 30 free texts for ₤ 45 a month”. No.

We can offer you 20 personal numbers that you can call for a reduced rate and 25 free texts, and 100 free minutes”. “If I don’t use the minutes, do they carry over to the next month” “NO!” Then No. At the time, I didn’t have 20 people who I would call that often. I still don’t. Do normal people do? But I digress…

So it went for hours. I cannot recall what plan I choose. It didn’t matter. Either way I was a puppet in their hands.

Once the plan was chosen, thus began the choosing of the phone. My original model had been discontinued long ago. So I had to pick up a new one.

Basic, not too heavy”, said I foolishly. “We have this model for ₤ 99.99 No.

“This model comes with X, Y, Z, and it can connect you to the universe if you want it to”.

How much does a connection to the universe cost?” “On your price plan, ₤3,000.00 per minute”.


What does this one do?

That one is a direct line with God and the President of Nike Sports”.

Oh…how much? I like the color

₤700.00 and it comes with an earplug free of charge!” No.

Eventually, I settled on an Eriksson that had a tiny little joystick in the middle. If possible, even more plasticky that the Nokia. But lighter, and smaller. And it had games.

Then one day that phone broke just outside the Isle of Wight on a ferry. So the whole cycle started again.

I will short hand it. “Do you have one that just makes calls and has no features?” “NO!”.

So now I am on my 4th phone and my 3rd Mobile (cell) phone company. Can do hundreds of things, including taking bad quality photographs and the ability to somehow play MP3 files if I ever get around to conjuring the Mobile Phone Gods to show me how to hook up the thing to the computer to download some music.

Something I dread doing. I am still recovering from the whole iPod fiasco.

Yesterday, I was talking to a friend in Alabama. He has moved home to a nice large house outside Auburn, Alabama. He’s there for a year. And, oh yes, the place is haunted he tells me assuredly. About 12 years ago a woman died in that house, and the lady is manifesting herself through modern day telecommunications and IT apparatus.

She plays havoc on his computers, cell phones (mobiles) etc. Things come on and off at random. It would appear that the Tivo is too advanced for her to tamper with. At least for now.

I know one day I’ll get a call because the microwave answered the phone and blew a fuse whilst trying to download a movie on the laptop which sits next to the television which switched itself off as my friend was about to call me across the ocean whilst sitting on his Jacuzzi.

Such is modern life.

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