Back in the olden days, sinning was simple, there were seven – meaning we had clarity. Nowadays, it’s complicated: miscreants are pelted with stern looks for standing in the ‘10 Items or Less’ queue with twelve items, for interrupting (guilty!) and looking over your shoulder for someone better to talk to at parties (not guilty.)
Now we can add another item to the list of misdemeanours worthy of social excommunication: stealing broadband. The other day, my ISP emailed to tell me I had all but exceeded my allocation, and would be charged for further use.
How the hell did that happen?
I rarely download music and am not a gamer. In truth, with regard to computers, I am about as skilled as ‘Mrs Brady – Old Lady,’ and can barely turn the damn thing on. Still, I called the ISP, and spoke to a very kind man baffled by my incompetence and flummoxed by the fact that nothing worked as it should. Together, with fortitude, dedication, stamina and black coffee, we tried to change my security code.
One whole day dragged by, rippling with confusion: I ground my teeth to stumps and plaited my extracted hair to create a neat little coin purse, but did not manage to change my secret code. (Large font typefaces capable of distinguishing between a zero and a capital ‘O’ would help, but I digress…)
I still haven’t met my neighbours – I don’t know who they are. They exist only as angry handwritten posters demanding that we shut the door, or that we do not put glass into the recycling bin as the council forbid this - yet another modern sin. Occasionally, I hear a door slam, or notice the wafting scent of cheap, cheesy bleach used to mop the floor, then another notice appears, and I catch the unnerving sound of scurrying, or disembodied shouting. I know my neighbours are real because of shouting and ranting from one flat, and the aroma of old school tatties-and-mince. Occasionally, I slip on the thick muddy paw prints of their tiny, yapping, mostly housebound dog, but still I rarely see them.
Consequently, I can’t glare at the sinner on the stairs, or knock on every door to ask, since it’s my responsibility to secure the internet. Worst of all, I know the guilty thieving broadband git must be close by, and they’re guilty of playing ‘World of Warcraft’ for days on end, or downloading Michael Buble, and I get to pay.
So who is the evil thief – how do I unmask them? My enemy is can only be a neighbour, and they are invisible. Stealing my broadband is actually a crime, but you can imagine what the police would say if ever I were to call them expecting urgent sirens and flashing blue lights for a hue and cry?
Broadband theft is like appropriating someone else’s air. I never imagined being in a position where somebody could steal something so costly and essential to me, and that a bizarre system of notional walls could stop them. Or not, as the case may be.