Monday, November 8, 2010

My Internet Headache

By: Mikejuha


My company is literally located in the middle of the desert and the nearest place with signs of civilization is like 30 minutes or so of uninterrupted, free-flow 120kph drive. You can imagine that as we work in the plant by day (or night depending on one’s shift) we sleep in the accommodation just within the plant’s compound by night (or day, whichever the case is). So our routine involves the plant, the room, then to the plant again, then the room. We have very limited (physical) contact with earthlings outside of our encampment and personally, I feel that we live in a different world, if not in a different dimension.

My routine in an eight-six work week includes saying “Yes Sir!” all the time, eavesdropping on conversations particularly that of my boss, inventing anything for my boss to take the credit, and taking the blame in case my boss screws up. And I’m very good with the last one; it’s why my boss likes me. His number one job is to screw up actually, and he blames me all the time - lol.

After the eight hours or so of absorbing massive doses of mental torture, I would dart towards my room, drop myself into the bed, turn on the remote, and then rise up to take my dinner at the mess hall, then back to my room again, and the bed...

For me, that seems to be no problem. I am kind of reclusive and I can survive simply hibernating in my room with only little or no social (or sexual?) interaction at all in, say, one whole year. In fact, if there is a reality show on seclusion endurance, I would outlast everyone without even trying. When I saw for the first time the Pinoy version of the reality show Big Brother and the participants cried after a few days of being isolated inside the big brother house, I wanted to slap each one of them. We OFW’s stay thousands of miles away from our loved ones and patiently count years before we could see them again (with some suffering from different forms of abuse while away) and we keep our pains in silence. How come that for a few short days inside that damn house (and in their own country), those participants cry and whine and whimper? Being luckier citizens, they have no idea what true deprivation is and what it does to drive people to leave their loved ones and country.

Maybe this is one reason why a journalist wrote in her article, “I wanted to slash my wrist...” when she was swarmed with OFW’s whose only fault was that they did not have expensive perfumes. And I thought Filipinos leap for joy (regardless of the price of their perfumes) when meeting or learning that there are other kababayans in the country they’re in. If she had only written that article at the time of that PBB crying episode, I would have surely wanted to do the same thing as she wanted – to slash her wrist. Yes, her wrist, coz I have no intention of slashing mine – lol!

When the internet was finally introduced in our company some three years back, I felt like a whole new world unfolded before my eyes. I was so delighted it became spontaneous to add into my routine to check emails, log on to sites, even chat with bogus people (Lol!). I admit that despite its dead-resurrecting sluggishness and the sporadic “Error Message” or “The page could not be displayed” prompt, I still adored the damn thing. For me, nothing was more inspiring than to let the tranquil sun set beneath the crimson sky and I would look forward to a bright new day just to watch the stupid “Error Message” intermittently come and go into my computer screen.

But to add insult to injury, the company restricted usage to sites only classified as “business” within a few months of its installation (when we were about to learn to explore the virtual world and start to fall for some bogus chat-mates). Probably, some people up there with functioning minds found out that instead of the foremen doing their usual vigorous rounds supervising their subordinates with hands akimbo, they became suspiciously glued in front of their computers, their eyes bloodshot and leaving their men on the field who became overly preoccupied themselves sending massive text messages to textmates they did not even know existed.

So social sites like PL, friendster, myspace, even the yahoo and hotmail were all blocked during working time. And if one is really relentlessly hardheaded to try to sneak through, there appears on the screen a prompt that says, “This is not a business site you, idiot!” (OK, I invented that “idiot” part). But I managed to do one clever thing: come to the office one hour earlier and lo and behold! I could still open PL. But the only problem is that I got to do all my stuffs in that very limited time, as they say to “seize the moment”.

That’s what I exactly did yesterday morning. But since the line was so slow and intermittently interrupted, I had to double time. I hurriedly logged on and waited impatiently. It took me like a whole five minutes just to reach to my account. And as expected, the “error message” appeared, disappeared, reappeared, disappeared, reappeared... That’s the sacrifice I went through just by opening my account. When I finally reached there, I instantly clicked the message button and again, the same excruciating ordeal.

There were a few new messages waiting to be opened in my inbox; the messages were from “a” “o”, “e”, “n”, “i”, “s”, “j”, “k”, etc (I can’t divulge their names; lest they will not come to my party – lol!)

I first opened the message of “a”. I read it, wrote hurriedly my reply, clicked the send button, and again, the agonizing wait. When the sent message prompted, I clicked the inbox, and then again, the never-ending wait... And the cycle repeats for the rest the other messages and with the stupid “error message” intermittently popping on and off the screen.

Have you experienced having completed a long, carefully crafted message and just when you have clicked the send button, the “error message” instantly interrupts and your long meticulously-worded well-thought-of message vanish into thin air? Well, it happened to me that morning too; my disbelieving eyes bulged and my wide-open mouth froze in total bewilderment. I even saw a huge question mark dangled over my head! And what did my sanctimonious mind squeal? “Eeeeeeewwwwwww!” and “@#$%*)@%^!&%~`!"

Yeah, all those stupid, alien words swarmed into my brain. And before I could refresh the page hoping the message was still there, the computer tells me, “This is not a business site... (you, IDIOT!)” I felt like setting the damn computer on fire...

And my suffering did not end there. This morning when I opened PL to finally resend the long, re-written message, a prompt instantly popped up from nowhere and landed into my screen saying, “PL is under maintenance...” That’s the time I felt my blood surged towards my brain and I wanted to kill someone.

I now fully understand why Malu Fernandez wanted to slash her wrist when she experienced such a pestering episode at the Dubai airport; because if you were in a situation feeling so annoyed and so disappointed like that, all you want is grab a bladed weapon and slash wrist. Yes, wrist, and any wrist. How I wish she’s with me during my internet agony this morning. It would have been a great relief to pour out all my frustrations into her wrist.

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