3 inches of snow brings UK to halt thanks to mobile networks

That headline above is not a quote from The Onion.

I know most of the Americans and Canadians reading — and we do have a lot reading — simply don’t believe this happens. Here’s today’s headline from The London Telegraph

Well it does. Do you remember the video I showed you recently? (“How bad are Brits at handling 0.5 inches of snow?) Well we’ve had a few more.

2.5-3 inches in Billericay, Essex, about 30 miles east of London.

And that’s it. That’s IT. Life is over for a good few days. My wife had a doctor’s appointment. Cancelled. If it’s an emergency, phone the ambulance, she was told.

It wasn’t, so she didn’t.

She was due to get a beauty treatment after that. Cancelled.

Absolute rubbish, it really is.

This is the problem with the mobile networks. They’re obviously still ‘live’. It takes quite a bit of properly horrible weather before the actual hardware packs in. But a smidgen of snow and this country is screwed.

It’s screwed because we can be. If it was the year 1940, everyone would be at work. Everyone except the folk who’re living in the mountains in Scotland that got 10ft of snow. That’s fine. But everyone in the lowlands of the country would have put on their boots, wrapped up warm and made it happen.

Nowadays any old excuse like a bit of snow prevents the majority of the population from getting anywhere or doing anything.

But it’s the connected nature of our population that makes it easy. You can phone in ‘stranded’. You can text your boss — so you don’t actually have to speak to him and let him hear your pathetic rubbish — and tell him the car won’t start. And what’s more, your boss will be delighted because the more folk who call in ‘snowed’, means he doesn’t have to get out of bed. Or bother providing a service. And he can tell his boss that today is a write-off.

Even if you don’t have internet at home, you can check out the latest ‘advice’ from concerned organisations eager to get a bit of press, about just how dangerous it is.

Clever schools and colleges that have implemented text message update services for parents are able, at a moment’s notice, to take a personal day. Too cold. Can’t be arsed. And so on.

The fact we’re all mobilised means we can deliver excuse after excuse after excuse. And really easily.

Before texting, before the possibility of being able to text/call your boss on his mobile (you’d never call the boss at his home landline unless the office was on fire, right?) you simply had to lump it. You got out of bed, opened the curtains, swore a little bit and put on an extra layer of clothing and went to work. So did the bus driver, the train driver and everybody else required to make the country work as normal.

But now the bus driver doesn’t bother. Any sodding excuse. Neither does the train driver. Or the taxi driver. Or the Starbucks barista. So actually even if you DO want to get to work this morning in the UK, because of the collective ‘fck it’ attitude — and the ability to quickly confirm this via mobile — you probably can’t get to work anyway.

Thankfully every mobile operator base station is operated automatically. It doesn’t have to have a little R2D2-sized chap inside to make your mobile work. Which is a good thing from a connectivity point of view, but conversely, a bad thing from a business productivity point of view.

So to the Americans and Canadians out there — especially the hardly lot like my friend Keith regularly dealing with -15 temperatures on his daily commute — feel free to being your scoffing…. now.

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