For the last few days, the internet at home has been on the fritz and yesterday, we couldn’t get to the net at all. It made me realize just how much i use the darn thing.
I don’t know about other people (obviously!) but I can remember the very first time i used the internet. Now, embarrassing story alert, so no future laughs I hope. It was in the winter of 1998. When I say winter, i mean winter in Zambia, not winter here in Ireland.
I was on my vacation from college, and was completing my internship at the Bank of Zambia. Most boring job EVER by the way. At that time, I’d heard whispers about this whole “internet” thing and how you could look up stuff, and I found out that in BOZ, they actually had free internet access. I’d hear them talking about looking up soccer results and looking at their e-mail messages and I’d just be so excited. But being a lowly intern, I didn’t have a desk, never mind a computer. I had a kind of floating desk thing where I sat in the chair of whoever wasn’t at work that day, or I sat at a desk behind the director’s secretary. Mostly Chama (the other intern) and I shared a desk whose owner was on sick leave. We were there because…gee, I couldn’t tell you what we were there for as there was f*** all to do all day.
Someone would remember we were there and give us boxes of stuff to shred or photocopy or take to another floor, or compile a long list of notes from a huge pile of reports…yeah, it was boring. We’d sometimes argue on who would run out and get lunch for our line manager as that was the most exciting part of my day at least. Getting out into the fresh air for a few minutes and pretending I was buying the lunch for myself. You want to know how much they didn’t need us? One day, I went into the records room which was lovely and carpeted and had to be locked at all times, curled up in a ball on the floor and fell asleep for thirty minutes. Nobody even noticed I was gone. They all probably assumed I was somewhere else.
The people were lovely though and though it was the most boring, it was the nicest of all y internship jobs people wise, location wise and office wise. Now, how many times do I have to say I had a very strange childhood? Well, an example of this is that although the people were lovely, I never once thought to ask if I could use one of the computers for myself over lunch. I would just sit there enviously and wish with all my heart that someone would sa,
“Muuka, do you want to use my computer to look up something on your break? The password is…”
Yeah, never happened.
Of course, I was nineteen and the person closest in age was thirty something, so they maybe never thought about us at all. In any event, I just sat enviously in a corner at lunch, reading my book, and hoping, like an idiot!
A few months before this, my dad had been to England and returned with a much begged for copy of Kavana’s first album. Dare I confess that I was terribly addicted to the Smash Hits magazine and would save up all my bus money to buy a copy each month? Okay, I confess, I used to save up all my bus money, walk home from college and spend it on the magazine and a bar of Cadbury fruit and nut chocolate…yum!
As a result, I knew all the pop artists in England, without ever actually hearing any of their songs as, let’s face it, they maybe weren’t that big of a deal anywhere else. But Kavana was hot! Beautiful blue eyes, dark hair…I’ve always been a sucker for white boys with that combination (which is why Krys always wonders what the hell I’m doing with him – but it’s just that he’s so darn cute!)
ANYWAY, I digress. I got it into my head that I really, really, really wanted Kavana’s album. And when dad said he’d be going to England and what did I want, I asked for that. I wrote the name down and everything so he wouldn’t forget. I told him not to buy me any clothes (he had hideous granny taste at this stage. And I’m not talking “oh my dad has the worst taste in clothes ever!” kind of teen thing. He really did have bad taste at that stage) and buy me that instead. It was well worth the wait as Kavana’s voice was every bit as sexy as I had imagined it to be. And at the back of the album cover was the website. As I said, I’d heard of the internet but had never used it, so I knew this website thingamabob was used there somehow…now if only someone, anyone would give me a crack at one of those computers.
I sat and waited for two whole months with no one ever asking me. Eventually, I had to do some work for the director’s secretary. She was going on holiday and asked me to sit at her desk, answer the phone, open mail and…..check e-mail for her to make sure nothing important was missed. And best of all, the director was also on holiday so she assured me it’d be very little work and I should not be nervous. Nervous? I was nearly wetting myself with excitement. Two whole days with a computer!! My ship had finally come in!
So the next day, I waited the appropriate fifteen minutes not to appear too eager, before opening up windows explorer and typing the web address into the browser and waited for what seemed like forever for the page to load – no broadband in ye olden days – and oh! My! God! It was even better than I had anticipated. It was so exciting. Colours and pictures and links to songs. It was a shame I only had ten minutes in total because of the slow connections, but it was pure bliss. I thirsted for more, but didn’t know enough about the internet to know what to look for, or if there was anything else I wanted to look at. I got home that night and went through my smash hits magazine and wrote down as many websites as I could, in anticipation of the next day’s browsing. But alas, the system was down and I couldn’t log on.
I wouldn’t get another chance to go onto the net until June 1999 when I would finally get my very own e-mail address and finally start seeing the potential of what could be done online.
These days not a day goes by without me spending at least two hours on the net. Between YouTube, facebook, researching articles, shopping, free texting I do feel as though I have a third hand. So you can imagine my dismay when it started hiccoughing on us last week. We first dismissed it as line upgrades or busy times, but when we couldn’t log onto Skype and YouTube started to go funny, and then disappeared, we started to worry.
First I called out,” hey Krys, my wireless is gone. is your internet working?”
He checked and said nope, his was gone. we checked the connections, we reset the modem. Nothing.
“Have you paid the broadband bill?”, Krys asked with furrowed brow.
“Yup, last week” I said, frantically searching my files to make sure I had.
Two hours later Krys said, “what about the phone bill for the line rental?”
Now, I’ve been known to have a rather lax attitude when it comes to the phone bill as Eircom have a larger grace period, so this time I thought hard.
“Well, the phone’s still working so I must have paid it.”
“Can you check to make sure?”
So I went to my file and lo and behold, I hadn’t even paid last month’s bill.
“So just pay it now” Krys said.
I sit down, get my debit card and…Oh. No internet so I can’t pay the bill.
We both laughed.
Two hours later, I forgot and tried to pay the bill again. FFS!
Another hour and I thought, this is boring, I’ll play Farmville. Oh yeah, no internet.
I’ll catch up on my forums. Oh yeah, no internet
While Roz is asleep, I’ll read an article or two that I’ve always meant to. No internet
Let me call Zambia and talk to my sisters. No internet
I’ll watch something on YouTube. Bloody hell, no internet.
But finally today, we’re back online. Turns out it wasn’t the bill. Our internet provider was upgrading something or other and couldn’t bother their arses telling us.
It feels MARVELLOUS to be back online though. So many options, so many things to do and read and so many people to communicate with.
Me thinks I’ll go play a game of solitaire to relieve the excitement.