Thursday, June 27, 2013

Skyping Old Mother Hubbard

 “Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard to give her poor dog a bone.  When she came there the cupboard was bare and so the poor dog had none.”

The German’s name was Klimt, and watching him carrying his ladder around the compound leaving a trail of cables and modem parts like scattered breadcrumbs, pleading with the Saudi’s to stay late and finish the job, would have been pure comedy if we all weren’t begging him to bring us internet.
 “She went to the baker’s to buy him some bread.  When she came back the dog was dead.”

German Klimt was the oddest man.  White skinned, soft spoken and bespeckled, slipping out of his shoes at call to prayer with the other locals and bowing in the crowded mosque, then running wires from antennas and knocking at our door at 11 p.m. to drill through our cement ceiling.  I should have known that skyping my daughters would be nearly impossible.
 “She went to the undertaker’s to buy him a coffin.  When she came back the dog was laughing.”

But try I would.  After staring at their pictures and little funny videos of them bicycling in the park or building a living room fort or singing me nursery rhymes on my phone, I would step out into the middle of the compound and plead with my signal bars as I attempt to open a browser.
 “She took a clean dish to get him some tripe.  When she came back he was smoking his pipe.”

I would squat directly upon the main wify server but… nada!  I would plug into the main office computer but… kaput!  I would stand so very still like a hopeful monument to Google in the middle of the compound with my arm raised toward the high power antenna receiver as all the Saudis looked me up in bizarre wonder… all to get two or three minutes of scratchy and shaky contact with my daughters.
 “She went to the alehouse to get him some beer.  When she came back the dog sat in a chair.”

It wore me down, and I wasn’t alone.  All the teachers were plugged into the same outlet.  I would open the door into the blinding Saudi sunshine and see Scoopes in black shades screaming to his girlfriend, “I said… ‘Can you hear me now?’” or Crooner Bill slumped over the curb, “They froze my account.  I logged in from Saudi and Chase Manhattan thought I was a hacker terrorist and froze my account.  Now I can’t access money for rent and I can’t call to clear it up.  Makes a bloke go mad as hell.”
Then German Klimt would appear, huffing and puffing and dragging his soggy bottom up and down the ladders, assuring us the internet would be stronger, “Maybe tomorrow, if it is the will of Allah.  Inshallah!”
“The will of Allah, huh?” Crooner sighed.  “From what I see, Old Al ain’t willing much.”
German Klimt laughed so nervously it bordered on hysterical.  “Yes, maybe he has forgotten us in Saudi.  Maybe we must answer our own prayers.”
“She went to the barber’s to buy him a wig.  When she came back he was dancing a jig.”

So I joined them in action and commissary.  All of us,  these wandering zombies of godless technology with our light speed gadgets still stuck in the superstitious dark ages.   Taking every ounce of contact we could steel.  It didn’t matter that our contracts stated we’d be provided with high speed internet, we all knew by now, some Saudi cupboards were always going to be bare.

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