I do know how to camp, and even backpack. But I have never had to work out my survival skills. I bought my first SERE book when I was 22 in college. I grew up with the habit of shopping at Army Surplus stores for my gear, but I never read anything before that. It seemed impossibly difficult. I was living in the San Fernando Valley.
Two days ago my cable modem slipped in and out of consciousness. Since I work at home, it made a lot of my work very difficult, if not impossible. I had a series of frustrations beginning Thursday afternoon with my ability to do certain things on the network. So I spent a lot of time with the limited networking skills I have to try and isolate the problem. I finally nailed it to my cable modem, not the wiring, not the machine, not the hub.
So I get on the phone with Frontier, who has inherited FIOS from Verizon in California much to my dismay. They have an automatic message that says they have 'detected a problem with your equipment' and puts me on a special hold. I sense this is bullshit, and I expect to hear it the next time I call. I go through a routine with the tech I get, she tells me the problem is fixed, but it is not. I can't VPN to my customer, with whom I've made a promise that now lies broken, over some simple stuff I could fix in literally 10 minutes. They of course are on the other side of the world, as is my boss with whom I could troubleshoot under ordinary circumstances.
I get frustrated and try to get them to send me a new cable modem. That will take 3-5 business days. Meanwhile, my Apple TV doesn't work. My XBox doesn't work. Alexa doesn't work. The day is over, and my relaxation cannot take place. My daughter misses her daily yoga session from YouTube. Bossman tells me that I should just order a new cable modem from Amazon. That's done. It only costs $50 bucks. Really? I could have done this a long time ago. Amazon guarantees Friday delivery. Yeah what time Friday?
My Thursday becomes Friday with no solution in hand. My Friday is their Saturday so they can expect no resolution until next week. I try tethering. I don't have enough bars on my phone. It's Friday. I'm getting pissed. I head to Starbucks. I sit at the end of the long table amongst the chatter and noise. There are at least 20 people in here working on laptops. I get on the wifi. This confirms that it's not my machine. I can tether here too. But it's too loud for me to concentrate. I need space, more space than this. My company has a WeWork membership. I head to WeWork.
I figure I should reserve a room. I park close to the WeWork office. It's afternoon. I can't remember what I had for lunch. I have no bars. I try to download the app. It takes 10 minutes. I try to login, my password doesn't work. I reset my password. My new password doesn't work. I walk into the office towers in Manhattan Beach. There is no listing except 'Virtual Offices'. I jab the elevator button. It doesn't light. I jab it again. It's a talking elevator; I go to the third floor. "No this is not WeWork, they are in the other building". I go back down the elevator and across the plaza. I come to the security reception. Where is WeWork? "Right here, sir". I'm an idiot. It's right in front of me on the first floor. I come into the place and "Who are you visting?" No, my company has a membership, I'd like to reserve a desk. She cannot find my company or me in the system. "What is your home office?'" No, we just use the facility periodically. Their whole membership regime has changed. Damned startup companies. $50 to rent a desk for the day. No thank you. I leave and go back home.
I've got a cable modem coming sometime today. I'm supposed to meet my wife in the Valley for a weekend celebration at a vacation rental house. It's for my sister's 50th birthday. I ask if it has wifi. Yes, and a full sized office. I can maybe do some work there. But first I have to finish packing and maybe get my cable modem delivered. At home I pack. The cable modem arrives at 3, just as I was on my way out the door to avoid rush hour. I unpack it and try to install it. it doesn't work. I've had it. I grab my gear and go. I have to stop in Westwood to pick up something from the Amazon store. I ordered a laptop stand. It will show up tomorrow, Saturday. Today, Friday, there are two boxes of unknown goodies I have to ferry to the Valley.This day is over. I got no work done. I am tired. I have no bandwidth. It is 5pm and I am on the 405 northbound going 12 mph.
I arrive in Westwood at 6:25, 20 minutes later than I expected. It's only 12 miles from my house and it took 90 minutes. Friday rush hour traffic. Every time I turn on the radio, they're talking about an Italian actress who was raped by Hollywood's douchebag of the hour. Some fathead named Weinstein. She's going to get a million dollars. Like I should care. I find a parking space 4 blocks from the store. There is semi-dried mud behind the tailgate of my truck which is filled with catering equipment for the party. I switch to walking instructions. Siri doesn't want to tell me where the Amazon store is. How convenient. Google doesn't care. I find the store. There are four sets of lockers. My wife doesn't know which locker the code applies to. It's locker #1, the first one I try. It is only the second thing I've done all day that worked the first time. I did have a good bowl of cereal this morning. I give thanks for the small things, but my teeth are still gritted. I enter the code, the locker pops open. I take out the first box, the second one won't be removed without help from the staffers behind the wall. I run with the boxes back to my truck thinking about a center of gravity problem for high school students.
I ask my wife to send me her location. I don't have the address to the house. She sends me a pin through iMessage. It's 40 minutes away. I get back onto the 405. It's getting dark. The location she sent was someplace she was at when I called, not the address of the actual house. I'm in the Valley, it's dark. I've pulled over to a side street at a stop sign, making an aggravated phone call. Where am I supposed to go? A cop whoops up behind me. I move along. These are not the droids you are looking for. 25 minutes later, I still have no text in return with the proper address. It's 7:30 and I have to pee, and eat but most of all drink. I have officially told the world to fuck off. I find a bar on Ventura Boulevard.
It took a bowl of mussels and a shot of Angel's Envy to set my situation in perspective. This is my first world problem, combined with two other personal problems that are none of your business that made a dogs breakfast of my Friday. It is 9pm, I leave the parking structure. There is a brand new grey Porsche 911 Turbo parked next to my truck. I'm in Sherman Oaks. Another section of America doing way better than me. I could have been an entertainment lawyer. I drive northeast to the place. I am behind a Bentley in traffic. Traffic that never relents. I finally arrive and as I unpack, I realize that I have left my glasses and contact lenses back home. I have one extra contact lens in my dopp kit. I will have to wake up and drive home early in the morning with one good eye.
My world. That small world under my control and discipline, failed to operate on Friday. I'm still angry about it. I'm still frustrated that such a combination of stupid small things stopped what I call progress. I want to take a hard left turn and run off road. I want to Survive, Evade, Resist and Escape. I want simplicity. I want the alternative. I know I am not held hostage by this, but it is what I have arranged my life around. The zombies are not going to rescue me from it. I'll have to change it all myself. Lord help me, I'll probably try.