Tongue Biting

In this our modern world, to wake up and find something awry with one’s email is like discovering that the sire’s fields have been sown with salt, the cattle are gasping and carbuncular or the river is burning. Not good. Repeated requests for my password produce nothing. Nothing but more requests and more empty screen space. Communiqués? They are no more. But I am, and I am more than concerned. Or am I?

This is the strange part, that I roll out the door for San Francisco and really don’t think about the matter until I return. When, you guessed it, the email is still a blank. The day has advanced, the sun shimmering and baking the suburban streets, warmth rising, and tomatoes falling off the bushes in the back. But in the front, no email., my Internet service provider, as they say, has proven itself quirky at times. But mostly, it has proven itself. True, it is very difficult to find the company’s phone number. But that may be because I am old, wear my trousers rolled, and stumble about the great screen of life with little insight and no patience. Still, like chimpanzees at a typewriter, eventually one comes up with Ulysses. Or Eureka. There it is, and I dial it, their number. And discover that I am number two in the queue. Which is wonderful.

They are a small operation, LMI, their offices on a neighborhood street in Berkeley. That very fact taking away some of the negative mystique that hangs about the likes of AT&T. I know that whoever answers the phone will not be in Bangalore. And they won’t be reading a script, falling all over themselves with apologies, and determined to do absolutely nothing about whatever your concern may be.

Dan answers. By the way, it never enters my mind that his name is not Dan. That’s another thing. Real names are good. So are real problems, and I tell him mine. He looks up my name and says, “oh, yeah, we had to shut down your email. Someone broke into your account, figured your password and began sending out spam.’

Miraculously, I said very little. Oh. Thanks. What now? Dan would reset my password. This time replete with capitals, lower cases and so-called odd characters. Thing is, I think Dan is an odd character. Very odd, in fact. Who would announce such a thing, glibly ignoring the obvious – that no one bothered to call me. However, for reasons that remain obscure, I have said nothing about this. Which is good. Because, it turns out, words to the effect of ‘Dan, you dumb bastard, why did you sit around twiddling your thumbs while my email languished?’…well, the effect would not have been good.

Because I thought of this other thing. 5774. My latest blog. The one that hadn’t posted properly. Several people got in touch to let me know. The blog appeared on screen in the usual promising way, but ‘read more’ produced no reading at all. Just a weird jump to a blank page. Would Dan mind checking this out? He seemed reluctant. The web wasn’t his thing. What thing was his thing, I wanted to ask. But as you can see, this was one of those natural tongue-biting events. My website, I pointed out, was built by someone at LMI. Who, Dan wanted to know.

Here we encountered what, in retrospect, was probably a generational thing. The notion that my site, completed roughly a year ago, would have left enough memory in my brain cells to include a name. And the funny thing is that I remember the guy, can see his long hair, once looked at his photography website. But his name? Don’t know, I told Dan. I want the thing fixed, I added. It’ll cost you, he said. Okay, I said, okay.

Exhausted, I stretched out for a couple of minutes. Only a couple, because guess who interrupted with a phone call? Dan. He had fiddled about, he said, and did something with the permalink. He assured me that I would find the latter on screen, just above the name of the blog. I doubt it, I thought. Permalinks closely resembling permafrost, in my mind…and nothing else. I hadn’t a clue. I didn’t say this. I just thanked him. What did he do? Well, essentially, he noticed the title. 5774. All numerical. None of my other blogs were purely titled with numbers. This number was sending the wrong signal to some software somewhere. And this, I must say, made complete intuitive sense. For the world of computers is all about the literal, things that signal but do not signify…at least in a nuanced way…no inferences, just references. I thanked him again. I thanked myself for shutting the fuck up. And as for Dan, no charge.

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