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Shannon Bardwell: Going wireless in the Prairie


Shannon Bardwell



The family''s been touting the benefits of upgrading my computer and Internet. "It''s so easy," they said. 


Resisting, I asked, "OK, fancy-spancy people, how do you use your new computers and wireless?" I flashed back three decades to a hard-sell Tupperware home party.  


Whipping out my parchment and pen, I waited. The list read: shopping, finding people, looking things up, weather, Facebook, Twitter, coupons, driving directions. 


"Ah ha!" I cried. "I have an atlas." 


They were relentless. I finally buckled under the pressure and ordered the new netbook computer. Then I polled my neighbors and found they had DSL. They credited Shirley Swoope, phone company retiree, for getting the Swoope covey faster Internet service. I called the phone company, and they sent a man who installed a new phone line but then they called back and said I wasn''t in the loop, so I called Shirley. Shirley still had a few connections so she promised to make some phone calls. 


In the meantime, my cellular company assured me they could provide wireless service. I thought I''d try them. They mailed the gadget, and I loaded the program. I talked to four technicians before they conceded I had no wireless Internet coverage.  


"Why did they tell me wireless Internet would work if my cell phone did?" The tech said he wished he knew. 


I packaged the gadget up and mailed it back to the company. So far my life had been anything but easy. Smoke signals would have been easier. 


Then the new computer arrived and no sooner than I had it out of the box, I learned it would come on about half the time. My parchment and pen was more reliable than that. Computer problems make me physically ill especially when they told me I had to buy a $200 service contract for my two day-old computer.  


"Oh no, I don''t," I said. "I can just put the dadgum thing back in the box and ship it back to you, that''s what I can do."  


We negotiated a settlement and the computer technicians became my new best friends. Every day they called to see if the black screen turned on. I received daily reports on weather conditions in India. 


A technician from Jackson replaced the hard drive and motherboard on my brand new computer. So far my life had not been made one bit easier. Daily, turning the computer on filled me with dread, and I still had no wireless Internet service.  


Eventually my computer came on reliably and I could pop it in my purse and stop by Dunkin Donuts. Looks like "wi fi" will cost me a few dollars and extra pounds in doughnuts.  


I''m still banking on Shirley''s connection getting wireless Internet for me eventually; I mean, good grief, we can send a man to the moon, looks like we could send wireless a few more feet into the Prairie.


Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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