How come we're so hooked on telephony? And by hooked I mean addicted, as in attuned, habituated, devoted - if not downright wedded to the stuff.
How did it happen without us even realising we were all of the above? Then one day you lift the phone without thinking - and there's no dial tone. Like any true addict you return again and again for your hit, your piece of the airwaves. But… no answer.
You're adrift, at least until you use - or in my case - find my cellphone I keep only for family and emergencies. I called Telecom which politely told me it was not their problem. That's because we pay an internet service provider for calls. First we had to contact them. Then they contact Telecom. I called and was treated to recorded, then marginally more parroting from humans at the Helpdesk.
So you grin and bear the new bureaucracy. In the meantime though, what's life without a real phone? Lots actually - but not when you've just begun the Recovery Programme. I gardened without enthusiasm, wrote as if it was a chore - then couldn't resist it any longer.
I asked my neighbour if I could borrow her phone to check my emails. I realised then that this little ritual had become my daily fix as it had for countless others - people who stared at their computers in airports, caught up on their calls in the breaks between meetings, drove cars while they talked and talked. Is all this a manufactured want, or some new, deep need to keep in touch?
A day later the combined resources of service provider and Telecom hadn't worked. Deep breath Paul, calm, calm…
At these times perspective comes in handy. This isn't famine, pestilence or plague. It's the telephone Jim. Memory helps too, because once we never needed phones the way we crave them now. The incessant calls we make, the emails we write when we could just as easily talk to one another - all of it emphasises our individual isolation. And of course our dependence on the new, corporate dealers.
Still there's an upside of sorts. In the absence of a phone I've rediscovered something special: uninterrupted silence. The addict in me still asks who might be calling, but I listen less to that than to the call outside my window. It's Spring - and it's sunny out there.
If I have to go cold telephone turkey, then I'll do it outdoors, where there are other connections to be made.