Woodpeckers Bring on the Darkness
Woodpeckers bring on the darkness
We were watching a golf match on television one Thursday afternoon, in our place in Estero, Florida, when the TV screen went dark. The message, on the t.v. screen, said that the signal was unavailable. Nonplussed, we tried the internet. It too was out. Hmm, now what?
We called our friends at Summit, our internet service provider. They said they would send out a service rep, Friday morning. Okay, we were back in the dark ages of no television or internet. Mary was recuperating from bilateral hip replacement and pretty much grounded. So, we retreated to our books. There is life without television or the internet! And, it is both quiet and rather pleasant. There is nothing like a good book to really fire up the imagination/
The next morning, the service rep called on us as promised. But, he said that unfortunately, the problem was “over his head.” He promised to send the referral to the company’s “linemen,” who would call on us. Usually this referral could take up to 48 hours. Because it was the end of the “season,” he was able to come out the next day on Saturday. We were hopeful. We were missing golf, the news and all other contacts with civilization. This was like being an addict and anxious about the availability of our next fix. The lineman probed the problem, like a scientist poring over a physics experiment, but couldn’t determine the source of the signal blockage. He would have to refer it to another “go team” of three men, who would probably replace the entire fiber-optic cable that fed the signals into our unit. Okay, back to the books. That referral could take up to two weeks. But fortunately, it was the end of the “season” here in Florida. They had less demands on their time. The crew came by the following Monday. We were now on our fifth day without television or the internet. I wondered how the rest of the world was proceeding? You really do forget what information junkies we all are.
It took some doing, but after a few hours, crawling through our attic space and that of two adjoining units, climbing up ladders and testing everything, they fed in and connected another fiber-optic cable. We were once again connected to the world. These fine lads had determined that a lowly woodpecker had built a nest in the exterior cable junction box. Out of either plain woodpecker boredom, or avian curiosity, the little rascal had pecked away at the cable’s exterior, with his beak, until it had split and the signal died. We expressed our appreciation to the line crew, uttered several nasty comments about woodpeckers in general and reconnected with the world.
It got me to wondering how people had functioned before the advent of television and the internet. I suppose radio was the major source of entertainment before the late 1940’s. But, what did the general population do before that to entertain themselves? Did they wonder every day what titanic events were happening across the world? Not everyone is a reader. Maybe they just gathered at the local corner store and exchanged rumors and the latest gossip? And of course, way back, in colonial time, the town crier wandered through the neighborhood bellowing out the major news items. In the middle ages, wandering minstrels and poets brought the news from their travel across the land. And even further back, Adam and Eve got their news right from an unimpeachable source.
Perhaps as we traverse further back in time, we will find that America was mostly an agrarian society. People worked long hours on the farm or in factories. They had little actual leisure time. Meals, sleep and chores made up most of the day. Sundays were for church and a day of rest with families. Big time, professional sports hadn’t yet been organized and the saloons were closed for the day. People didn’t complain much though. Most were just plain grateful to have the means to feed, clothe and house their families. Maybe they had a better attitude towards life than we do these days. And, they hadn’t yet learned to dislike woodpeckers either. That would come later.
Joseph Xavier Martin