Saturday, October 21, 2006

Nothing Works in England

I'm in London for a speaking engagement, and I had some free time last week. I went to the Victoria & Albert museum. British museums are really warm and stuffy, so I asked a guard in the plaster casts gallery if there was a drinking fountain. "I'm sorry, sir," he said, in a tone that sounded slightly like Marvin the Android, "We did have, but it's out of order."

Okay, that's not so much dumb as it is a roundabout way of saying, "Sucks to you!"
However, the next incident has the double whammy of being both inconvenient and dumb.

For some reason, the WiFi card in my laptop stops working at the venue where I'm speaking, so I ask one of the event organizers if I might use an office computer to log onto my email and maybe have a brief online chat with my girlfriend back home. "Um, okay, yeah, sure, yeah, come with me, you can use the computer at my desk. Okay? Yeah." So up we go, up three flights of stairs and through the security doors with swipecards, up to her desk... All the way up there, I'm making small talk about how I miss my girlfriend, and boy, won't it be nice to get some email from her, and thanks for letting me use your computer to check my email and won't an online chat be great to keep the old home fires burning, and she absently replies, "Yeah, no problem, no, yeah, uh-huh..." So I sit down and attempt to log on to my web-based email, and it doesn't work. Now this organizer is a real hustle-and-bustle gal, always on the go, so she's speeding towards the the door by now, and I shout, "Hey, it's not letting me log on." She shouts back, "Oh, well, it wouldn't do, would it? We have a firewall; you can't log onto email."