Look – here I am, STILL connected to the internet! I am actually starting to feel a little less like a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Sleep helps, but so does connectivity. Anyway, I really do want to share last Friday’s meltdown with you, and then I promise there will be a ban on technology-related posts on DoctorDi for at least the term of my new Virgin contract…
So. The interview. Imagine that I am sitting at my desk. I have my dictaphone beside me, a fresh tape sitting inside. I check everything is working. I get out my notebook and a pen. I pick up my mobile phone and dial the interview subject’s phone number. Then I drop my mobile phone and it clatters loudly to the wooden floor. The screen does dark. I swear volubly. I turn the phone back on and all seems to be well. I redial.
“Hello Jean-Marc, this is Diana Je-”
“Hello? Can you hear me?”
“Jean-Marc, it’s Diana Jenkins calling.”
“I don’t know… there’s no one here, it’s probably the Diane or Diana calling from the paper. Hello? If this is you, this has happened to my phone before, so maybe hang up and try again.”
I hang up. I call back. Conversation virtually identical to the one above. We both hang up. I’m convinced my phone is the problem, so I call Llew. No answer. I call Sarah.
“Hello, Sarah speaking.”
“Hi Sar, can you hear me?”
I hang up. I call back. Conversation identical to the one above.
“Fuck,” I say.
No one can hear that, either.
Tick tock, tick tock. Interview subject still waiting to hear from person hired to interview them. Oh yes, that would be me. I text interview subject, explaining about dropped phone. I say I am casting about for a new option and will call asap. I run out the front. I glance up and down the street and dash to my next door neighbour’s house. There’s no answer. I think about crying, then I dash back through my open front door and I run straight out the back. At the boundary line, a group of builders are gathered constructing – interminably – the apartment block that will eventually house a whole range of people who will be able to look directly into our bedroom window. About time these noisy early morning drilling bastards make themselves useful, I think.
“Hi, hi, do you one of you have a phone I can borrow, please? I’m doing a phone interview and my phone just died. I’ll pay you.”
They slouch off.
I’m gaping after them, speechless, when one returns and reluctantly hands over his phone.
“How long are you going to be?” he asks. He’s not happy about this, not happy at all. “I don’t have much credit left.”
Oh perfect, I think. Of course you would have to be someone who’s not on a plan. But beggars can’t be choosers, I reason to myself. And I am a beggar.
“I’ll pay you for the call,” I say, reaching out to take the phone. “Thank you, thank you so much.”
I grab the phone before he can change his mind and run – actually skidding on one heel – back indoors. Panting, I dial the interview subject.
“I’m on a builder’s phone,” I tell him.
We laugh and I press RECORD on my dictaphone. The interview begins. He and his co-writer are good company, the interview is going well. We’re having a marvellous time. I glance down at my dictaphone. The tape is no longer turning. The battery sign is a solid, unblinking red. As I watch, it dies. I start wildly scribbling down notes, too appalled and shocked to stop the interview subjects mid-sentence to tell them yet another thing has broken down. But I needn’t have worried, because just then, the phone goes dead.
“You have GOT TO BE FUCKING KIDDING ME!” I scream at the builder’s phone. “YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING!!!” I pick up my phone and text the subjects: “Sorry, sorry, sorry, B’s phone out of credit. Will find another phone and call you straight back, unless you want to reschedule for this arvo?”
Message comes back: “Can’t do this arvo. Ready when you are.”
I run out the back and the builder is leaning menacingly over the fence.
“I’m sorry,” I say. “It’s out of credit.”
“You used up all my credit?”
“I’m sorry. Twenty bucks ought to cover it.”
“But I need to make a phone call.”
“I’m really sorry. Thank you for helping me.”
“You should have used a pay phone. You should have gone to a phone box.”
“I need to record the interview. I need it on loudspeaker so it records.”
“Well, I need to make a call.”
“I’m sorry, I’ll get you some cash right now.”
I run inside, painfully aware that my interview subjects are sitting by the phone. I open my wallet. There’s maybe a dollar inside. The universe starts laughing loudly.
I run to the service station down the road. I take out money for the builder and buy three lots of batteries, not remembering what the dictaphone takes. On my way back home, I stop in at my neighbour’s house. She answers and I nearly start weeping on her doorstep.
“Oh thank god,” I say, with feeling. “Thank god you’re here.”
Angela explains that her phone too is just about to run out of credit, then she says I can use the home phone, but it crackles. I don’t care if it whinnies, I just need to use it. I drop the new batteries on the bed next to the phone and run next door. I give the builder thirty bucks for the phone call and the inconvenience, bundle up my equipment in my arms and run back to Angela’s. She’s out the door to work, so she leaves me to it. I sit on the side of the bed and change batteries. Then I lift the handset and dial Jean-Marc’s number.
“This is where you tell me you’ve broken into your next door neighbour’s house,” he quips.
“I’m sitting by the side of their bed,” I laugh (hysterically).
“She is,” he calls out to Adam, his co-writer. “She’s in their house!!”
“Oh my god,” I say. “This has never happened to me before. Hold on, I’ll just press the loudspeaker.”
The line goes dead.
I frantically try to figure out Angela’s phone system. It seems I accidentally disable their answering machine, change their security code and set their alarm whilst trying to figure out the loudspeaker and stop that beeping noise, the source of which I cannot find. About five long minutes pass before I figure it out. Then I do. I redial Jean-Marc’s number. Amazingly, they pick up. I don’t know about you, but I’d be letting it go to voicemail by then, just to fuck with me. But they don’t do that to me. They pick up. I can hear them on the loudspeaker, I press RECORD on my dictaphone, the tape starts turning and the interview recommences.
The drama is over.