Thursday, May 13, 2010

Liberation Of The Techno-Slave

There are very few mornings that afford me the pleasure of waking up with nothing planned for the day. At the best of times, my average weekday can best be described as frantically manic. At the worst of times, I resemble a heroine addict who just had Red Bull and Speed for breakfast, with a radioactively dangerous vindaloo curry the night before.

By noon on most days, i've answered no less than 25 calls and responded to an endless stream of emails and sms's. This would seem otherwise normal if I worked in a call-centre, or in the trauma unit at Mount Sinai Hospital. The fact that I do all this and remain on-call 24/7 in the capitalist pursuit of wealth affords me no pity. I am, unashamedly, the poster boy for a Jozi Boy.
The kind your mother warned you about.
The kind that would have charged an entrance fee for all who stepped on The Ark, and double-fare for an Ocean View room.
The kind that would have given Baby Jesus a credit card and then sold him a Playstation.
I've been known to answer business calls, important or otherwise, in the middle of dinner, a movie, a funeral, and even sex.
In short, I am the Alpha Male, tearing down the deal-making superhighway, pedal to the metal with the devil screaming behind me to slow down.

So imagine my surprise when my morning alarm was void of an incessantly ringing cellphone.
It felt like the most unnatural sensation imaginable.
I got out of the shower and instinctively checked my mailwhile waiting for my tea to brew. Nothing!
Not even spam! Not even some online chinese company addressing me by my first name while offering me cheap viaggra!
I felt so unloved. So forgotten. Almost invisible!

By 10am my cellphone hadnt rang once, and I was torn between relaxing and enjoying the silence, and sheer panic that the world no longer needed me!
An hour later and the little seed planted in my head which said there may be a problem with my phone, had sprouted and transformed into a raging Amazonian jungle! Quick as a flash, I whipped out the back-up cellphone. (Right, like any Metro male worth his weight in spit doesnt carry a second phone!)
I dialled my number with nervous fingers.
I listened intently.
"The subscriber you have dialled is unavailable at present."
WHHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Unavailable?
I was right here!
How could I be unavailable when all I ever am, all that defines me, is available!!?

So I called my service provider (once again, what would this world come to if it werent for back-up cellphones).
Turns out there was a technical glitch on my line and it would be restored by 2pm.
That was 3 hours away. 3 hours of silence. 3 hours of being uncontactable. 3 hours of being unavailable. The best part was that it was through no fault of my own. It wasnt as though I had intentionally turned the phone off. It was an event totally out of my hands, but one which afforded me 3 hours of techno-free bliss.

I felt emancipated! I truly did!
I felt like the shackles which had held me prisoner for so long had finally been broken.
I felt like Kunta Kintei.
I felt like Barack Obama.
I felt like Nelson Mandela.
I felt like Martin Luther King.
And I was having a dream.
Until my back-up phone rang and Vodacom apologised for the inconvenience, and informed me that my number was now active again.

So for 3 hours today, I experienced Nirvana.
I basked in the glory of being far removed from the rest of the planet.
And its a feeling, strange at first, but one that I think I could get used to.

I decided then, that as insurmountable an ambition it may seem, for at least 3 hours each day, I shall turn my cellphone off.

Starting tonite.
At 11pm.

Wish me luck.
Silence.