O2’s mobile meltdown spelled doom – but turned into a dream
Iwas on the Tube on Thursday, furiously typing out simultaneous messages for Facebook Messenger, email and WhatsApp, nabbing moments of network coverage between stations to press “send”. When I emerged at Barbican to run an errand, I looked expectantly at my phone to send all the messages that I’d cued up since the last station.
But then nothing. Like most of the millions of people affected by the 02 outage last week, I immediately assumed that my data – the whole point of having a smartphone – would return any minute. As I walked, however, zilch.
I turned my phone off and on. Nothing. I began to have an inner tantrum. Where was my data? A sense of doom immediately descended.
Was there something badly wrong with my phone? It wasn’t until a bit later that I saw there was a worldwide glitch, and breathed a sigh of relief. Nothing to do but wait for the outage to be fixed. And then the day became rather wonderful. I had to read or write or stare out the window while on trains and Tubes, and walk without Googling things. It was relaxing.
That evening I had to go to an unfamiliar Hertfordshire town for an appointment. I was early so decided to go into Costa Coffee and use the Wi-Fi in there to check where I was
meant to be going. But because every café in town, including Costa, seemed to use the O2 network there was no connectivity to be had.
The boy working at Costa offered, in the absence of my map app, to simply write out instructions for the 25-minute walk. He knew the route perfectly, and more than that was considerate of the fact that I was walking in the dark in a strange town.
In eight numbered instructions, written in beautiful script, he provided me with all the helpful landmarks and guidance that I could have hoped for – and I managed to cross all the footbridges, bear right in all the right places, and take the “windy” residential lane leading to my destination all without a single hitch. It was the most fun I’ve had in a while.
Not only did it feel like a treasure hunt, it made me feel full of warmth toward the boy and a surge of optimism about my fellow man.
This one, at any rate, was very decent and, just as cheering, had the ability to hand write and spell, both of which I had assumed were dying arts in the age of phones.
By Friday morning, it was a return to business as usual – but not, on my part anyway, without some regret.
New friends: alternatives to smartphone technology do exist