My new Telkom phone will probably last forever. The simple reason for this has nothing to do with sturdy construction or good workmanship. Picture: SIMPHIWE MBOKAZI/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
My new Telkom phone will probably last forever. The simple reason for this has nothing to do with sturdy construction or good workmanship. Picture: SIMPHIWE MBOKAZI/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

What the bleep, Telkom?

By David Biggs Time of article published Jan 20, 2020

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My new Telkom phone will probably last forever. The simple reason for this has nothing to do with sturdy construction or good workmanship. In fact, it’s a flimsy, little, cheap-looking plastic toy. It will last forever because it is never used.

A century from now, the residents of this house will still have a brand-new piece of useless plastic sitting silently on a table in the lounge.

The problem is that it is too polite. My old phone was very intrusive. I’d be sitting enjoying a quiet glass of something, or filling in today’s Sudoku puzzle, when the phone would bleep loudly, demanding my attention.

I’d jump up and answer it simply for the sake of peace.

The new phone is very polite. Instead of emitting rude bleeps, it clears its throat discreetly and makes the whispered electronic equivalent of: “Psst. Ahem. Excuse me. If you’re not awfully busy...”

You have to be standing within two metres of it to hear it.

My brother, who lives in a large farmhouse in the Karoo, had the same problem with his new phone until his daughter gave him a baby monitor. Now, when his polite phone whispers “psst” in the farm office, the baby monitor repeats the “psst” in the family TV room and it allows you just enough time to dash up to the office and not answer the phone, which stopped ringing the moment you reached the door. I will never cease to wonder at the marvels of modern communication.

There may even be a way of correcting the new phone’s shyness. For all I know, you just have to dial a secret code such as #1Z3# to turn the mouse’s whisper into a lion’s roar.

I’ll never know, though, because the phone arrived with no instructions.

A man knocked at my door and thrust a box into my hands and vanished down the garden path. I called after him: “How do I work this thing?” and he shrugged as he slammed his van door and said: “Search me. I’m just a courier.”

We were told these new wi-fi phones were introduced because of the ongoing theft of copper telephone cables.

I’m beginning to wonder whether it’s all a cunning plot hatched in cahoots with the cellphone networks. When my mobile phone bleeps in my pocket, there’s no way of ignoring it; it makes my keys rattle.

Meanwhile. there is probably a politician’s grandson earning a decent living making little beaded animals for tourists. He gets the wire free. It used to be part of Telkom’s outdated phone network.

Just a theory.

Last Laugh

Two men met in the local pub and were trying to impress each other about how successful they were.

“When I wake up in the morning,” said one of them, “I like to lie quietly for a few minutes before reaching over to my bedside table to ring the bell for the valet to bring my coffee.”

“Good heavens!” exclaimed the other, “you have a valet?”

The other chap looked slightly embarrassed and then said: “No, not really, no. But I do have a bell.”

* "Tavern of the Seas" is a daily column written in the Cape Argus by David Biggs. Biggs can be contacted at [email protected]

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Cape Argus

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