Lipstick for goats

Lipstick for goats

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Ring, Ring, why don’t you give me a call.

When we first bought the farm my mobile phone had very selective reception in ‘black spot for all technology land’.  There was one spot where if I was lucky I could hold the phone high in the air, pointing it in the general direction of  south/west, hope the wind was blowing in the right direction, stick my tongue out and balance on one leg then maybe, just maybe, I would have mobile service. Move a few centimetres from ‘that’ spot then all was lost, I may as well have been talking into a tin can attached to 3 metres of string.  Ten years on it is only a little better.

What if a snake bit one of us or we had an accident, my husband was hurt in the paddock or like,,  the quad rolled on top of me?   Our closest neighbours with a telephone aren’t  all that close. At least not close enough to run quickly to in high heels along a dirt road.  Finally we decided we needed a landline.

The conversation with the major telephone company went something like this –

Telephone company:  “It will be 6 to 10 weeks before work commences bringing the line down to you.”

Me:  “10 weeks?  We are in a rural area, it is a black spot for mobiles. In case of an emergency we have no communication, a phone is a lifeline.”

Telephone company:  “Do you or any immediate family member have a life threatening illness? That can speed up the delivery.”  

I could tell she was really trying to be helpful.

Me:  “So I have to be seriously ill? Thankfully not....But I would be if a brown snake got me.  Those brown snakes are lurking everywhere, just waiting to spring out at you, like drop bears in the trees but these guys are under bushes”

For once I had an operator in Australia instead of overseas. She got my sense of humour.

To the company’s credit as it was going to take over 6 weeks to be connected, a satellite phone was supplied for the interim with the calls at the standard landline rate. This was pretty cool; our voices were beamed thousands of kilometres up into space to be processed by the satellite then bounced back down to earth through a gateway! The gateway directs the call through the regular landline or the local cell phone service providers.  All this gateway stuff, I felt like I was in the middle of a star trek movie. “Beam me up Scotty; I need to speak to my mother.” 

We expected the line would be brought down the road to our front gate.  Wrong! They would only bring it to the closest boundary of our property from the junction box.  We were responsible on our property for any trenches needed to lay the line in, so instead of 150 meters from the front gate to the cottage, we now had a huge distance of just under one kilometer to trench.  With a quote in 2005 of $6 a meter for a trencher we decided to dig it ourselves with our old excavator, or more to the point, my son dug the trench; it kept him occupied for a number of weekends. 

He learnt how to use the ‘diggy thing’ and did a fantastic job.  All those levers would confuse me.  He did wear earmuffs after I took this photo and realised they were not anchored on his head!!
Once the cable had been laid by a contractor my son then filled the trench back in.

Finally when the telephone company connected the phone the contractor told me to expect difficulties with the line, especially when it rained or during stormy weather.  Instead of the line going into town by the shortest route to the exchange, the line goes way, way, way out the opposite direction to another small town then loops back into Braidwood. 

Sure enough when it rains I have problems. I then resort to standing in that ‘special spot’, on one leg, eyes crossed, poking my tongue out, hoping the wind is blowing in the correct direction to get service so I can ring the phone company on my mobile to report the line is down, but it is better than not having a phone.

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