Such a booby!

The Compass - - NEWS - COL­UMN Harold Wal­ters Harold Wal­ters lives Hap­pily Ever Af­ter in Dunville, in the only Cana­dian prov­ince with its own time zone. How cool is that? Reach him at gh­wal­

On the Gala­pa­gos Is­lands there lives a species of marine bird called the Blue-Footed Booby. Truly. Handy about the size of a large gull, the blue-footed booby is — ex­cept to its mother, I s’pose — a com­i­cal look­ing fowl con­sid­er­ing its bluish-grey head and beak and, es­pe­cially, its bright blue webbed feet.

Last Fri­day, for the umpteenth time, I was read­ing one of my favourite dead writer’s great nov­els — Kurt Von­negut’s Gala­pa­gos — in which the blue-footed booby bird ap­pears with some reg­u­lar­ity.

In the in­ter­est of hav­ing an ac­cu­rate, coloured im­age of the booby bird in mind as I read, I peeped in through Mr. Google’s win­dow hop­ing to see any snaps of the blue-footed booby he might have spread on his desk­top. No sooner had I fo­cused on an azure pair of webbed booby feet than some­thing hor­ri­ble hap­pened.

“Harry, my bit of a booby love” says Dear­est Duck, “surely you are not go­ing to talk about last week­end and com­pletely em­bar­rass your­self.”

“Em­bar­rass, my Duck?” say I. “Never.”

“We will see,” says Dear­est Duck, tap­ping her foot in call may My Im­per­fect Slant an ap­prox­i­mate im­i­ta­tion of the blue-footed booby’s rit­ual mat­ing dance. What? Oh, the hor­ri­ble thing that hap­pened.

As if Mr. Google slammed down his win­dow blind my in­ter­net con­nec­tion failed and I was hove off of the World Wide Web.

Im­me­di­ately, I felt bluer than a booby bird’s webbed foot.

When I fully re­al­ized my plight, I grabbed the near­est pe­riph­eral hand­set of our Aliant land­line and fran­ti­cally com­menced jab­bing the num­bers of We­blink’s tech­ni­cal sup­port call cen­tre.

“Thank you for calling We­blink. Please press… “I pressed 3. “If you are a res­i­den­tial cus­tomer, please press…” I pressed 2. “If you are seek­ing in­ter­net sup­port, please press…”

I jabbed 4, ex­press­ing more than a mod­icum of frus­tra­tion.

“Your be mon- itored,” I was warned. I sim­mered down. “All our agents are busy serv­ing other cus­tomers please hold.”

Pulling at my few re­main­ing locks, I lis­tened to sev­eral min­utes of Muzak.

“Please con­tinue to hold. Your call is im­por­tant to us.” Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! “Harry, deep breaths,” came a cau­tion­ing voice from our kitchen, “would you like a cup of Ten­sion Tamer?”

Af­ter ten or fif­teen min­utes run­ning the Cus­tomer Sup­port gaunt­let, an Agent whose voice was as sweet as Shal­i­mar — what­ever that is — guided me through a se­ries of tests that proved… … my mo­dem was fried. Waaaaaaaaaaaaah! “Sir, we can have a tech­ni­cian in­stall a new mo­dem on Mon­day.” Mon­day! For frig sake! “Okay, fine,” I sobbed, bro­ken, needy man.

“Thank you for us­ing We­blink. Have a nice day.” That was Fri­day. Can you imag­ine what Satur­day was like with­out my vi­tal link to all of Mr. Google’s shelves?

I was a pa­thetic, web-de­pen­dent wreck.

“Harry, my un­strung love,” said Dear­est Duck, “it is sad a to see you so for­lorn, sit­ting there star­ing into space, too dis­turbed to read.”

Never mind too dis­turbed to read. I was suf­fer­ing the mis­eries of in­ter­net with­drawal, my fin­gers — in kind of a spas­modic key­ing-in man­ner — claw­ing at the fab­ric of my Lay-Z-Boy.

Ten­sion Tamer de­liv­ered in­tra­venously was no help.

Imag­ine my state on Sun­day, the third day.

“Harry, my de­spon­dent hon,” said Dear­est Duck, “You must not lie there moan­ing and groan­ing as if a friend has died. Get up! Shake your­self!”

For Dear­est’s sake I stood up and, even more for Dear­est’s sake, I went out­side.

Hop­ing that prep­ping my snow blower for win­ter might dis­tract me, might oc­cupy my trou­bled mind, I pulled the cover off the ma­chine and pushed the starter. I lis­tened to it cough to life then, when it idle smoothly, I re-com­menced to moan and groan, not only for the fact of Google gone but also for the in­evitabil­ity of snow.

Come Mon­day morn­ing my spir­its lifted. I arose at six and scrav­elled through break­fast. The In­ter­net Guy would be here at any minute — some­time af­ter 8:30AM.

Nev­er­the­less, I pressed my nose against a win­dow­pane, and waited ex­pec­tantly. Eight-thirty ticked by. Nine o’clock ticked by. At ex­actly 10:21AM, the We­blink van zoomed by our house and van­ished in the dis­tance. Aaaaaaaaaaaaah! As with the Cus­tomer Sup­port wait line, house calls would be an­swered in the or­der they were re­ceived.

“Harry,” said Dear­est Duck, squeez­ing me in an I-un­der­stand-your-pain hug.

With glacial haste, the day moved on.

A surge of de­light, like adren­a­line aflame, raced through my blood­stream when — fi­nally, fi­nally, fi­nally — mo­ments be­fore sun­set, the In­ter­net Guy opened our door, a brand fire new mo­dem tucked un­der his arm.

B’ys, do you think he thought it strange when I hove my arms around him and em­braced him chest to chest? Prob’ly. “Harry,” says Dear­ests Duck, “you are such a booby.” Blue-footed or no, eh b’ys? Thank you for read­ing.

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