East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

What a week!

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Sometimes life gets better than fiction – and mind you, I write thrillers, fantasy and horror, stuff featuring pigmy zombie cannibals, so that “better” must be taken with a grain of salt.
A big grain of salt.

Last summer, while the pandemic was all the rage and the nation was going in and out of lockdown, some of my power bills got lost – never delivered, for some reason or other. I tried to get in touch with my power company, and got dead letter on the whole front – no reply to my mails, perpetual muzak on the phone.
I worried, but not that much – I mean, services companies always find a way to get their money, right?
So I waited for a signal.
I paid the bills as they came, and waited for developments.

The developments came seven days ago, when the power went out – the power company had “cut our lines”, in fact reducing the supply to 15% of the contractual power.
And yes, we were supposed to get a last payment injunction and all that, only we did not.
The lights just went out, the computers went dead, and we had to find out by reading our counter, and realize we were operating on a fraction of our usual power.
So I spent Wednesday, Thursday and the whole weekend trying to reach some human being, and learn what to do.
Once again, no response.
I mailed the emails found on the last energy bill, sending them a scan of the payment receipts, I called repeatedly the given numbers, I faxed a copy of the receipts.
Nothing. Zero. Nada.
We were living almost in the dark in the meantime – no kitchen appliances, no electric radiators, turn off the light on the stairs if you are turning on the light in the bathroom…

Then, on Monday, I went to Facebook, searched for the company, found their Facebook page, and sent them a Private Message.
And got a reply.
In the reply was the URL of a page on the company’s website – a page that was only accessible through a direct link. On that page was a form, and I filled the form.
This led to a second Private Message on Facebook, with an otherwise undisclosed email, where I was to send a copy of the payment receipts … copies of which I had already sent to two other addresses in the previous days, to no avail.

As soon as I mailed the receipts to the new mystery address, I got yet another Private Message on Facebook, with an otherwise undisclosed phone number. I called the number, and on the third attempt, after waiting six minutes on the line listening to muzak, I was able to speak to a human being, that in a somewhat bored tone told me that yes, everything was fine, my power would be restored within 24 hours.
It was in fact restored in one hour.
And I wondered – what if I had not been on Facebook?
What if I had not thought about reaching them there?
By dinner time on Monday, I filed the paperwork to switch to another power company.

That was two days ago.
Yesterday morning, my brother’s computer died with a fried motherboard.
After a few attempts at reanimation, we realized the thing was gone for good, and set out to look for a new machine – and were lucky enough to find a fine refurbished desktop PC, actually a better machine than the expired one, and with a tonne of pre-loaded software, for relatively cheap on eBay. Buying it completely drained my PayPal account, but the new computer was delivered today, little more than 24 hours after we purchased it.
My brother is currently re-installing his software and re-accessing his socials and cloud storage and stuff.
It’s going fine.

While all this was happening, and we were fumbling, so to speak, in the dark, I got a new job proposal for a ghostwriting gig, had three pitches approved, and I’ve just signed a contract and I am waiting to sign another as soon as it gets mailed to me. Then I’ll be writing writing writing.
So onward we go, and this still feels like a roller coaster.
Sometimes I’m getting too old for roller coaster rides.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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