Monday, April 26, 2021

Off Grid

On Saturday afternoon I had arranged to meet the Empress for a walk in Lainzer Tiergarten, a popular recreation area in the outskirts of Vienna. Unfortunately Google Maps, which I always use for navigation in my car, did not direct me to the main gate where we were supposed to meet, but to a different one (20 minutes apart by car) which I did not realise until I parked my car as where I ended up, there was absolutely no mobile coverage. I asked a lady how far I was from the other gate and decided to take a shortcut through the park while restarting my phone several times, not sure if there was simply no reception or if there was an outage by my phone provider. Unfortunately I had started walking into the opposite direction and when I asked a group of elderly hikers if I was on the right route to the main gate, adding that I could not use my phone, they confirmed "oh yes, there's no phone coverage here." At this stage I was not sure whether the Empress would still be waiting at all and decided to walk back to my car and call her (back, assuming correctly that she had tried to contact me in the meantime) as soon as my mobile network was accessible again. Eventually I ended up at the arranged meeting point pretty much one hour late having had to circle around for a parking spot as well.
I felt both flustered (I hate being late!) and stupid (are we really that useless and non-functioning without our mobile phones?!) and it reminded me of a similar situation a few years ago when my phone slid out of the back pocket of my jeans on a bus in Zurich and it cost me quite some stress and money to get it back. I suppose it's that feeling of helplessness, knowing that actually everything is fine (I'm okay and in no danger, the sun is shining and my friend won't get cold waiting) and yet it's extremely awkward (I was putting myself in her shoes knowing that I would be extremely worried if someone whom I knew to be always on time did neither show up, nor answer their phone and messenges only yielded that one dash telling you they had been sent, but not delivered yet) and annoying. With few exceptions (elevators, a few buildings with very thick walls, and my office actually) you do not expect to not have any signal in Vienna...and it's not that pay phones are still a thing. If there is one learning, I'll check the suggested route on Google Maps next time before setting off...


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