Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Can I have 1996 back?

Remember 1996? I do. In 1996 I was in my first year at university and had the good fortune to be best friends with Jean (alias Cleo in a previous post about cows), the only person on my floor with a dial-up internet connection in her room. We would sit on her bed slamming back shot after shot of Goldschl├Ąger (which we managed to convince ourselves was a mark of our sophistication despite the fact that we were effectively binge drinking a snow globe), and we would watch in hungry anticipation as a single photo of Christian Bale slowly revealed itself, pixel by painful pixel on the monitor of her state-of-the-art IBM 386. Then we’d stagger off to Piper’s Pub.


Jo to Laurie: "Okay, okay. I promise not to run off with a German professor twice my age, but first you've got to sort out a faster internet connection. This is taking ages." Photo from Felice's Journal.
Those were the days. 

You see, in spite of the baggy jeans and scrunchies and the fact that Tori Spelling was still allowed to be on TV, the nineties were a good time, at least for the internet. You see, in 1996 the internet was as yet mostly uncorrupted by spooks and creeps. Or at least, our connection was too slow for them to be interested in us.

Today is different. Indeed, today I looked at a credit card statement from my bank to discover that I have been the unhappy victim of credit card fraud. It seems some clever so-and-so managed to get my card number, no doubt from one of the thousands of online transactions I make every year. And what was my hard-earned money used to buy, you ask? A digital TV subscription. In England. So I'm fairly sure it wasn't just some random purchase that I can now no longer place. Because not only do my husband and I have the Dutch equivalent of what we used to refer to back home as "the welfare channels," but I also don't live in England. 

I thought things like this only happened to people who still referred to everything on the internet as "email."

Of course this meant I had to cancel my credit card. I can expect a new one in a week or so. But this, to me, is like having to live without thumbs for a week. As a socially awkward people-fearing type, I like internet shopping because it means that I can minimize my contact with real 3-D humans. This week I’m going to have to either (a) buy nothing or (b) send my husband to the shops. This could be a good week for my bank account or a bad one for my marriage.

In other internet-shopping news, I have also found out why one of our regular mailmen swears angrily when he has trouble fitting a package through the slot in our door. According to recent news reports, it’s because my mailman gets paid 1.10 per delivery and only turns a profit if each delivery takes him under 2 minutes. If I am not at home, and he is forced to take my package to the post office and leave it there for me to pick up, he makes nothing for that delivery. 

Which is all to say that between the Dutch privatized postal system and evil no-good thieves, the world is doing nothing for my anti-social internet-shopping habit. PostNL, please pay your delivery staff a wage that allows them to keep bringing me shoes (and while you're at it, consider offer training in anger management for my foul-mouthed postman).

Internet thief-type people, to you I say, I hope you are enjoying your subscription to Sky TV. I comfort myself in the knowledge that there is likely nothing on that’s worth the money I spent for you to watch it.