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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Service Loser

For much of the day today, I had no phone service. I’m not sure exactly when it cut out — sometime between leaving the house for work and lunchtime — but every time I looked, I saw those dreaded words:


This is not an especially uncommon occurrence at the office. We apparently work in a building lined with lead walls and signal-proofed windows, because I get only the faintest whisper of a one-bar signal most days at my desk.

(Which is just painfully ludicrous, in my view. I work in Boston, one of the most techno-thingied, tuned-in, plugged-forward cities in the world. The office is a short jog — even for me — from Fenway Park, where the signal is presumably crystal clear; the better for ballplayers to tweet their post-game platitudes.

But step into my building, and I might as well be schlepping my butt back to feudal Europe. They didn’t call them the ‘Dark Ages’ for nothing. Those people had no reception at all, much less big bright screens to work with. They were probably still using clamshells. Poor bastard serfs.)

“No amount of craning, contorting, or doing a full-body glom against the window would restore my missing service.”

Today, though, the blackout was both constant and comprehensive. Usually, the signal will flicker in and out. Or blip back to life if I raise my phone toward the window. But today — nada. No amount of craning, contorting, or doing a full-body glom against the window would restore my missing service.

(Though it did give the folks in the building next door something to talk about. Also, the people I share an office with. I tried to play it off by saying I was doing an interpretive dance.

That only raised more questions. Like “why would you interpret a lobotomized emu jumping out of a window?” I decided not to answer that. But I’m sure Disney will someday make a movie about it.)

The point is — no service. I walked all over the building, but it was nowhere to be found.

I did not have it by the radiator. I did not have it in the elevator.

I was no-barred, fubared in the lobby, and by the admin’s desk who’s always snobby.

No dice inside the cafeteria; it’s like my phone was in Siberia.

No signal anywhere that I tried — so I gave up, and went outside.

I broke free of the vile, oppressive office building and into the warm afternoon sun.

(That’s the, uh, after-five o’clock afternoon sun. Naturally. Give or take.)

I twirled in a joyous little sidewalk circle — frightening more innocent people, and nearly wrecking a bus — and lifted my phone high above my head to bask in the unfettered wash of unadulterated cellular signal waves. After a while, I got dizzy. So I pulled the phone down to see how it had recovered after so long without its cell tower mana. The screen beamed up at me like a fresh-faced child and chirped:



So I turned the phone off and back on to reset it — because that’s what parents probably do with their misbehaving children, too, right? — and it was fine. Full bars. Several hours-old emails, and some text messages it was too late to respond to. But I had SIGNAL again. Beautiful, precious SIGNAL.

And all day, I’d been blaming my building when it was the phone’s stupid malfunctioning fault. I walked back and apologized to the wall, and we hugged it out, so we’re good.

(There are apparently a lot of nosy pedestrians who’ve never seen someone make up with a building before — and that’s ‘up’, not ‘out‘; the building and I don’t have that kind of relationship.

Any more.)

I suppose I’ve learned a lesson from the experience — be careful who or what you blame for a problem, as the usual culprit isn’t always the current culprit. Every once in a while, the Joker or Godzilla or Somali pirates are just sitting in their living rooms, saying “What? I was watching ‘Design on a Dime’ all afternoon. I didn’t do anything this time!

There’s probably another lesson in this about unplugging and not being so ‘connected’ via phone and text and email and such. But I’m not taking that one. For one thing, I was more obsessed with the phone that wouldn’t work all day than I would have been with a text message or two throughout the day. And besides, if I were to turn off the phone and unplug, then I MIGHT MISS SOMEONE TWEETING SOMETHING MILDLY AMUSING.

Seriously. Just the thought of that makes me hyperventilate. I’m going to check my bars right now, to make sure I’m in the clear.

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