This past Sunday morning, I was sitting in the back room of Trash Muddy’s. It was overcast out, neither cold nor warm, and the sky was flat gray and lifeless like the kind you see in a dream. I sipped my coffee and looked very much like a degenerate with my unkempt hair, bad posture, and Travis Bickle jacket. It’s a good look. It makes people want to leave me alone.
I pulled my phone from my pocket and googled “does angela merkel have down syndrome,” which is a fair question given her hairstyle. I was half hoping to find others who wondered the same thing. The other half hoped I would be alone in my assessment.
As much as I appeciate likeminded people, I also like to think I’m an original thinker even though evidence points to the contrary. Years ago, I posted some joke on Facebook about Fatah and Hamas joining forces and being known collectively as “Fatass.” A friend asked me if I came up with that myself. I said as far as I knew, yes, which was true enough. I wanted to be sure so I googled “fatah hamas fatass.” Someone else had made pretty much the same the joke. I didn’t plagiarize, but I did get beaten to the punch.
After that, I didn’t put much hope into being the first to come up with anything. Someone else must’ve seen Merkel’s hair, put two and two together, and come up with 47. If someone had, I didn’t see it as the top query results were flooded by a connection between her and Down Syndrome that I had not anticipated.
Apparently, a woman with Down Syndrome confronted the presumably pro-choice Ms. Merkel this past September and told her that she didn’t want to be aborted. I can kind of relate. The idea of having never been born is appealing to me maybe half the time tops. As one can imagine, the right-to-lifers had a field day with this though I’m not sure Merkel was swayed. Germans have historically not always been merciful toward the differently abled.
Ordinarily, I would have liked nothing better than to start clicking links and amuse myself with what these fetus fetishists had to say. Unfortunately, the two gigabytes in my phone’s data plan was all but used up and the new billing would not begin until the end of the following day.
I suppose I could have used the Wi-Fi there, but I really don’t like to. It’s not like the Muddy’s at 24th where the password is written on a sign next to the register and is changed maybe once or twice a year. At Trash Muddy’s, you ask the barista and get handed a slip of paper with the password on it. The password is good for three hours so you mustn’t dawdle. Drink your coffee and get the fuck out.
Trash Muddy’s is no doubt more wary of loiterers because of the homeless who congregate around 16th Street. Vigilance is stepped up so not even the homeless with mobile devices are spared. As for me, I prefer to use my own data there. I never hang out for a duration even approaching three hours, but I don’t enjoy the time allotment and the watchful eye. I am 55. That’s old enough to feel like I live in a world where I have worn out my welcome.
Still, I did not want to go over my two gigs so I turned off my phone and put it back in my pocket. The previous day, I had told Rebecca about my data-plan woes. After completing her eyeroll, she dutifully informed me that the overage charge would be $15 for another gigabyte of data. I knew I could afford that. I also knew that there were hidden costs, ones that would make no sense to anyone but me.
I am not what one would call a disciplined person. I am lazy, slovenly by nature, and I am more likely to get my feelings of accomplishment through delusion and drink than by actually accomplishing something. However, my ego cannot run on pure bullshit. I need some elements of merit, trivial and easily achieved, that I can inflate until they make me feel good about myself.
One of these is not incurring data overages on my phone. With available Wi-Fi at home, at work, and on the bus, it should really be a slam dunk. Mostly it has been, but recent events threatened my thus far perfect record.
The problem started at the beginning of the billing cycle. When I said that I had Wi-Fi on the bus, I should have qualified that by stating I have it in the morning and intermittently in the afternoon due to more passengers trying to use it. I was working on “Future Poo 2: Electric Boogaloo” on my ride home and I switched to mobile data so I could regularly save my work. Blogging doesn’t use much data. The problem was that I neglected to turn Wi-Fi back on when I got home and proceeded to hit the YouTubes with a vengeance. By the next morning, I had burned through 400 MB of data.
Then came rationing my data consumption, which got me back on track. There was some slippage during the NOLA trip, which was neither unexpected nor excessive. By New Year’s Day, I was on track once again. That is, until we lost Wi-Fi at home that evening.
So there I was with eight uncertain days ahead of me. Did my DSL modem go belly up or was there some outage I didn’t know about? More importantly, would the problem be rectified before the following weekend or would I have to resort to avoiding an overage by engaging in such antiquated activities as watching TV or reading a book?
The prospect made me shudder so I bit the bullet and spent an hour and a half in total on hold with AT&T customer service on Tuesday. I eventually was told that the problem was on their end and a network engineer would get around to fixing it no later than Thursday. Probably.
By Thursday evening, service was indeed restored. Good for AT&T. With only moderate stinginess of data use, I could stay below the 2 GB mark.
In my world, this is what passes for adversity.