Our 28th year of publishing

Published August 10, 2021

We took drastic measures during the web blackout

How I struggled with the machines and won

By John Toth / The Bulletin

It was the second day without Internet at the house, and it was time to spring into action.

We have distributed papers during tropical storms and even in the middle of the Big Texas Freeze in February. I sure was not going to be stopped by the Internet being out.

I called the AT&T helpline again, but nothing had changed. The computer voice still did not know when service would return.

We started packing the animals and clothes for a week, grabbed the 5G hotspot and hit the road. (For some reason, the hotspot does not work at our Angleton location). Next stop, the hideaway near a boring little city called San Antonio.

A publisher must make drastic decisions to make sure the presses keep rolling each week. I was prepared to go to any length to bring you this paper no matter what the circumstance. It’s my commitment to readers and advertisers.

That’s the way we do things around here. Four hours later (with no pit stops this time nor stopping at Buc-ees in Luling), we arrived at our destination, and I started to set up The Bulletin Emergency Headquarters.

Luckily, I have some experience in this. It’s not like this was the first time I had done it. The 5G became active, and The Bulletin was back in business.

Day three of the blackout was a surprise, since AT&T is such a big company. I thought they would find the broken wires by that time and splice them back together. Luckily, it didn’t affect Bulletin operations in any way. We were doing just fine at our hideaway satellite location.

No need to be concerned about our well-being, dear readers. We took plenty of rations with us, and we were even able to find some good food at the Velvet Taco near The Pearl that happened to have live music when we arrived.

It was retro rock, so we stayed there for a while until the band went on break and I could discuss with the guitarist how in the early 1970s I scored four Led Zeppelin concert tickets at $7 a piece.

He was fascinated by the story, although all the time I was talking he was trying to make his way to the counter so he could also partake of those delicious and healthy tacos. Luckily, I wrapped up my short story in about 10 minutes, and he was on his way.

The session ended with his “Hotel California” guitar solo rendition, which brought back memories of a local band I used to hang out with as a teenager during my summers in New Hampshire.

That story had to be told first before I could let him know about the Led Zeppelin tickets.

I put a tip in the band’s jar, and we returned to our emergency headquarters to continue saving the upcoming issue.

It was hard work, but it had to be done to make sure the paper was going to be delivered the following Tuesday.

I almost forgot that we also found survival supplies at the Cracker Barrel restaurant. We were well prepared to tough it out for a while longer, since there was still no Internet at the Angleton Bulletin Headquarters.

I called back the At&T computer voice, and this time I insisted on speaking with a human. It didn’t want me to, but I stood my ground and kept pushing buttons that irritated its digital ears.

“I cannot understand that,” it kept saying as I blasted it three more times with the pound button (or was it the hashtag button?). That did it.

There was a big cable line cut at a construction site, said the human agent. Service should be restored within 24 hours. “We’ll send you a text to this number when it’s restored.”

Miracles do happen. A few hours later, the text arrived. Angleton was back online.

But was it? Or was the computer voice getting me back for all those pound button pushes? We would not find out for a few more days. Meanwhile, we continued to rough it out at the hideout.

Addendum: The text was correct. Want action? Keep hitting the machines with the pound button. We have to fight them whichever way we can.

(John looks forward to hearing from you on this subject. Send comments to john.bulletin@gmail.com. You can even send an old-fashioned letter to: The Bulletin, P.O. Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516.)