July 8, 2022. The second Friday in July. One week after Canada Day. Four days into my new job. Four days after American Independence Day. 3.5 weeks till my birthday.
The sun was shining that morning, and B. and I had enjoyed a fortifying bicycle ride in advance of sitting down in our home office for another day of remote work. We’ve loved banging away at our keyboards together for the 2.5 years of the pandemic but we were not destined to get any work done that day.
One of Canada’s three big telcos, the one B. worked for (no more!) and the one supplying both our internet and phone services, was down. These services had been down since the wee hours and would remain down the rest of the day but that morning, we thought it was only a temporary blip. We showered and ate breakfast, certain we’d then be able to begin our workday; but we remained a pair of bemused lovers, unexpectedly disconnected from everyone but one another.
We found and dusted off the windup radio we’d bought 20 years ago when the entire eastern seaboard of North America lost power. We learned that all was not well for Big Telco: People across the country were without personal and business phone and internet, debit payments weren’t working, and many people couldn’t get through to 911. (Happily, the media did not immediately start speculating that we were in the midst of some kind of massive terrorist attack, as they did 20 years ago.)
Unable to make the proverbial donuts, we puttered about for a little while, still incredulous that this was happening. But it was; we were an island in a sea of other remote islands. In response, B., unsurprisingly, had a sudden explosion of brain and said, “Let’s sit and be Arthur Quiller-Couch potatoes today!!!”
He’d recently bought me the very silly novel Dead Man’s Rock by said author, so we did: We settled down with our novels but checked our phones and laptops every 15 minutes to be able to jump back into being ultra-productive desk jockeys when the time came. That day, the time did not come.
By 3pm or so, we’d reconciled ourselves to our enforced relaxation with books made of paper. It was a glorious day. As newborn Arthur Quiller-Couch potatoes, we read and read with our beasties by our sides. We drank tea. We chatted and reminisced about how long it had been since we were truly unreachable (knowing, of course, that if it went on too long, we’d begin to worry about our family elsewhere; all our family members are elsewhere).
My turn for inspiration came in the early afternoon: I declared us to be the founding members of The Sir Arthur T. Quiller-Couch Potato Society and that henceforth, the second Friday in July would be dedicated to disconnecting from technology and reading like it’s 1849: nothing but bookshelves full of dreams and liberal amounts of tea and toast.
Since then, B. has presented me with 4 more A Q-C novels and there is much non-fiction to read as well. I plan to strictly observe Sir Arthur T. Quiller-Couch Potato Day every July until death do us all part, amen. And I hope you will join us.