After the Great Seattle Wifi Riot, I’ve seen a side of humanity that I never thought I’d witness here in tranquil suburbia. Those of us able to escape the McDonalds fled, our precious laptops and personal electronic devices tucked under our raingear. In the distance, we could hear the receding screams of the mob that had decided to charge the police. Distant sparks from exploding Personal Electronic Devices illuminated the dismal Washington afternoon. We refugees trudged on in silence, avoiding the bloody scene at the Starbucks (though I got as close as I could and scanned the wounded and dying for the sight of my family’s faces and, to my relief, they were not there). Finally, “Cash”, the natural leader of our group, bade us follow him to the Cinnebarre, a movie theatre for hipsters in the neighborhood, with full wifi access for latte-sipping dilletantes in the lobby.
We trekked past the burning cars, the smashed windows of the pharmacy, the gutted strip malls with quotes from the Kardashians spray-painted on them. The nightmare march lasted nearly five minutes and I was almost beginning to be winded when we finally reached the theatre. Inside, terrified staff with blue hair and multiple piercings had blocked the doors with trash cans and gumball machines in a vain effort to keep us out. But the glass doors were no match for our Docker’s boots and we were soon inside. We took hostages, of course, since it was just a matter of time before the IP police noticed the surge in logons and surrounded the building.
I was able to briefly check my email and make a number of important transactions with my Nigerian financiers. A man next to me seemed to be able to catch some online poker action. And a number of teenage girls seemed to find happiness dissing Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber for a few brief, shining moments. But then the lights went dead with the WIFI and suddenly a hundred headlights from armored assault vehicles were shining through the front of the building and bullhorns were telling us to come out peacefully. “Disperse, ye rebels!” said the cops.
Somewhere in the dark, a child whimpered.
After seeing the horrors that had just unfolded at Mickey D’s I decided I’d seen enough violence for one day. So I headed for the door. “Who’s with me?” I said to the sullen mob in the lobby. Nobody moved.
“Can’t you see how futile this is?” I cried. “There’s nothing for it but to go back to our homes and…. talk to one another. Maybe read a book.”
The crowd shifted uncomfortably and people looked up from their blue screens of death like coma victims reacting to a loved one’s voice, their grey faces and sagging mouths inert but with a slight glitter of recognition in their eyes.
“Why don’t we just walk back to our houses, put on some tea, and see if we can find our family members?”
The crowd stirred. “Sandy”, said one man. “That’s the name of the woman I married. I remember now! Sandy”
“Brad?” said a woman from across the lobby. “Is that you?” The two looked at each other with dawning awareness. “Aren’t we married to each other?” They said in unison. “Mommy? Daddy?” said two young teen girls. “Is that you?”
It was like a dam broke. Suddenly everybody dropped their personal electronic devices and started talking to each other. I felt a hand on my shoulder and turned around. It was Jan and the boys! It turned out they had been with me the whole time. But since the last time I had looked away from my computer was in 2002, the boys were now young men and Jan had changed her hair. We embraced and left the building hand in hand, laughing and talking. We came home and had a lovely dinner together.
This morning, WIFI was restored at our house. I need to be sure to put a newer photo of the family on my Facebook page.
So, I’m back.
And now I’m playing catchup on email. So I’ll still be scarce.