There must be two dozen WiFi connections within range of my laptop at home. One of my particularly ingenious neighbors has named his network the “Virus Distribution Center.” It’s a secured connection, but I’ve never tried to get into it. Mission accomplished.
Not that I’d ever in a gajillion years try to piggyback on someone else’s WiFi. I hesitate to use free WiFi at hotels and internet cafes—although in truth I have. And though the “public” setting on my laptop presumably protects me from sharing TMI, I’m not really sure how much the bad guys are able to access in that type of situation. I’m reasonably sure I’m thoroughly compromised—that my birthdate and SSN are even now scrolling down some kind of list on the dark web as people bid on the value of my virtual identity. Which in truth is about $82. American. And my information doubtless is mixed in with the 50,000 or so emails from Hillary Clinton’s private email server. Whose value probably exceeds $82. So I might luck out by virtue of my small-potato status.
And though I’ve surrendered and used the free WiFi access at hotels and Starbucks now and then, so far I’ve avoided the free-access hotspots provided by Xfinity, AT&T, and other providers. I see them everywhere; there’s even one strong Xfinity signal that I can pick up in my home, which means that somewhere pretty close to where I live, a huge disk is beaming microwaves at me. As an occasional viewer of Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures, I know what these high EMF readings might mean: nausea, vertigo, the feeling that someone is watching me, etc.—not to mention a potential contribution to the energy that spiritual entities may need to manifest voices and other physical phenomena. This ambient additional microwave energy, I assume, may also help to more quickly pop popcorn and/or heat the occasional foodlike substances that I introduce into my microwave oven. Thanks Xfinity!
Alas, the high EMF in this area has perhaps contributed to the significant detour I’ve taken in trying to make the main point of today’s post: I am not one to shirk responsibility, and more likely than not assume responsibility even for things over which I have absolutely no control. I don’t want to go into this in detail. Suffice it to say that if I chose a date for you and me to go to a ballgame and it rained that day and the game was, in fact, cancelled, I would feel guilty. I mean, I just would. It was all my fault. However—and again, I blame the continuation of this detour on ambient high EMF here—if you come to my place, and if my wireless router is working (and I promise you, I am relentless in maintaining that 99.9% up time promised by my internet provider), and if I give you the name of my network and the password for access to my network, and if you cannot make the wireless connection, with any of the many devices you might bring along, even if such devices strain the bandwidth for me and all my neighbors, at that point I have assumed the maximum responsibility for your IT technical support that I can comfortably assume.
In other words, please do not expect me to take your device into my possession—even temporarily—and fiddle around with your network settings until a successful connection is obtained. At the point that a wireless signal is demonstrably exiting from my router, I will take full and active responsibility. But at the point that the wireless signal is touching your temporarily visiting device, it’s all yours.
This vicious disregard for your connectivity dates to the early days of the internet, when it was still spelled with an uppercase I, and I became the de facto IT support technician for my father, who has since passed. Unrelatedly, I think. In any event, I was in the habit of passing along to him my computer equipment when I was finished with it. I was going to use the word obsolete, but that term seems a trifle extreme. It was obsolete for my purposes, perhaps, but for my old man, it was, well, old-man appropriate. And at each hand-me-down point, the calls would begin.
I had planned on providing a sample dialogue; that is, he would call me, I would say this, he would say that, I would say this, etc., etc. But the very act of reenacting these exchanges in my head was so stressful that I ruled out the approach. I was a good son. I was terrible IT support. I would be talking him through a solution, for example, when he would describe something that was entirely impossible for him to be seeing. “A picture of a large bluebird came up, and it’s tweeting the Star Spangled Banner,” he would say, for example. And I would hold the phone receiver about a foot away from my face and scream: “That’s impossible! What the fuck did you do?”
See what I mean?
It was the single positive thought to occur to me after his death: “Well, at least I will never have to scream at him again.” And then it was back to the five stages of grief. Of which I’ve gone through maybe three, none of which has yet included screaming. Or the Star Spangled Banner.
The moral is: IT support people should be viewed with loving reverence. None of them deserves you, and vice versa. And unless you want an axe in your head, you will not bother me if I provide you with my network name and password while visiting my happy home, and you are unable to stream a video of last night’s Mets’ game. You are not my father. If you are my significant other, I’ll do what I can. But you may have to stand up and leave me alone in front of your device. I suggest a long walk or a trip to the grocery store.