To Get To Talk To You
Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, SD – To get to talk to you, I must drive sixty miles round-trip, to Chadron, NE, where there are four internet access points; McDonald’s, but you must eat some of their food to justify asking for a connection and being there for over an hour. Two coffee shops, and the public library. And Loretta’s kitchen table. That would be five.
The Business Connection is the only place in town I can get a hard copy printout. And Tom’s basement office printer.
So, going online isn’t an easy task. In gallons, it’s four.
Before desktops, laptops, and blogs, for several years I would hammer out one or more stories up to thirty-five pages, take them down to the gas station printer, print out, collate, and send them off to you in manila envelopes.
Before that, from a Remington on a clerk’s desk in the headquarters building of a helicopter company in Qui Nhon, and later, Chu Lai, in what was then the Republic of South Vietnam.
Before that, you received work produced on a manual Sears Corona, paid for by installments of two dollars a month for thirty-six months.
Now I’ve got a writer’s dream machine with microphone, camera, fingerprint reader, Duo Core 2, Wifi, Bluetooth, and all the cool shit, extended battery life…French and Spanish dictionaries…voice reader...all the cool shit…stuff on here I don’t even know what it does.
It’s wonderful as a writer to have these tools, isn’t it? The only problem is, I’ve got to give it back.
Ahhhh, it’s sort of a sticky problem, ‘cause I got it in an agreement in exchange for work, and then the people at the front end, the uh, people who actually sent the machine, had not intended it to end up in my hands.
Ha. So there you have it, without my having to mention Tom’s name or that of the organization’s.
Obviously, I haven’t given it back yet. I love this thing, and after having two stolen last year, I carry it with me everywhere. Out here on the rez, it’s my link to the world and to you, despite going to Chadron, or closer, to Pine Ridge, where there’s (thank God) one coffee shop with internet access (Can you believe it? An internet café on Pine Ridge?), and public access at OLC (Oglala Lakota College) library.
So I envy those of you who can sit comfortably at home or your workplace and check your mail and download and do what you do. But not much. There is something…I don’t know…something…appealing isn’t the word…about effort involved in getting to talk to you.
Valuable. There’s a value involved in the effort. By not having it be too easy gives the effort a quality that it wouldn’t otherwise have, at least for me.
You might ask, ‘why not dial-up?’ (are you kidding?), or high-speed Direct TV? They’ve got both of those on the rez now. Hey, I’m still working on getting water. Three years now.