Monday, 23 January 2012

Cabin fever


So it finally happened to me …

After seven-ish years in Lebanon, I got stuck in an elevator during a power cut. It was coming; I’d ridden my luck for too long.

It was a couple of nights ago as I was coming home after dinner with my friends and a few après-food drinks (digestifs certainly isn’t the right word, far too sophisticated).

I’d timed it to perfection, I had ten minutes until the cut, or so I thought.

Now, my apartment block is (much to my shame, as it looks like some sort of festive bordello) the only one on the street yet to take down our Christmas lights, so a twinkling Santa assured me that there was power as I hurriedly hit the button for the second floor. Two seconds later, “Thump”. No. No. This doesn’t happen to me. OK. Damn. Wait. Beseech anyone who’ll listen. Hit the button again. No. Santa’s dead. There’s no kahraba.

And I wonder why my generator bills are so high...
Pic from here.

So, after I had reflected on my stupidity at ignoring my own rules (No.’s 2 and 29), and wishing I hadn’t had that final cigarette, I soon wondered how to entertain myself. After contemplating the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything (contrary to what Douglas Adams will tell you, the answer’s cabbage and not 42), I was at a loss as to what to do.
But, I had my phone and thus 3G. While going through Google Reader I rapidly discovered that web comics, even the brilliant Happle Tea, get a tad tiresome when you’re sitting on your bag on the floor of an elevator underneath a shadowy effigy of the supposedly jolliest man on the planet. It occurred to me at that point how similar the names Santa and Satan are.

"Now, what have I got in my sack for you little Timmy?"
Pic from here. 
After flicking through any number of websites and listening to Britney’s greatest hits (… Baby One More Time stands the test of time), I resorted to having a chat with Siri, Apple’s much-maligned personal assistant. Now, Siri’s a wonderful thing, can do all sorts of useful tasks, but a brilliant conversationalist, she, or in my case, he, isn’t. Asked what he thought of Google, he just said he “Thought different”. He wouldn’t comment on Katy Perry’s divorce (yes, my time on the Internet had been well spent). When I asked him to “open the pod bay doors”, he became somewhat depressed and first bemoaned the fate of electronic personal assistants post-HAL 9000 and then threatened to report me to his union. When I told him I hated him he apologized and said he’d endeavour to do better in the future, before darkly promising to remember what I’d said. I gave up when he became confused, and somewhat defensive, over the issue of his gender. I expect to be found dead shortly, my iPhone having wedged itself in my brain.

The mark of the Devil.
Pic from here.

After several drawn games of noughts and crosses (tic-tac-toe to the heathens) I finally felt myself drifting off to sleep. No sooner had my chin hit my chest than the power came on. Springing gazelle-like (*ahem*) to the buttons and slamming my hand onto the nearest one, I muttered a quick prayer to whichever deity happened to be awake at the time, and finally arrived at my floor.

In bed I lay reflecting on a lucky escape. For some reason the power had only cut for around an hour. Not bad. Mental note: must remember Rule No.’s 2 and 29 in future. Falling asleep, the power cut again, the UPS went off, resulting in incessant, demonic wailing. Getting up to turn it off I released that my media centre was turned on. But I couldn’t turn on the TV to shut it down as I have a budget UPS that’d keel over dead at the thought of powering my old plasma screen. Sleepless in Beirut. Again.

Électricité du Liban, I hate you.