Back Chat: One Fateful Night

Back Chat: One Fateful Night

But what finally pushed me over the hi-tech edge was a toy. A cheap, battery-powered child’s toy that our grandkids must’ve left at the bach. This bach has been in my family forever, a humble no-frills refuge from gadgets, gizmos, wotsits and whizz-bangs. Well, it was … until one fateful night when we couldn’t sleep.

by John Cooney

I KNOW THIS PROBABLY SOUNDS SILLY, but technology’s got me nervous. My life has been taken over by gadgets, gizmos, wotsits and whizz-bangs. And I can’t help wondering if they’re coming to get me …

My office printer, for example, has a life of its own! Like some alien intelligence, it hums and clunks with no input from me, sends emails without me knowing, and orders toner from goodness-knows-who. I feel in my bones that I’m being watched, and probably should apologise.

I own a smart-phone that’s so smart it’s scary … a car that keeps trying to drive itself … and five remotes for a sound system that only works when it wants to. (My wife caught me pointing the TV remote at our fireplace the other day, trying to turn up the heat!)

But what finally pushed me over the hi-tech edge was a toy. A cheap, battery-powered child’s toy that our grandkids must’ve left at the bach. This bach has been in my family forever, a humble no-frills refuge from gadgets, gizmos, wotsits and whizz-bangs. Well, it was … until one fateful night when we couldn’t sleep. 

That toy wouldn’t let us. 

Every half hour we were woken by a muffled, high-pitched peeping noise. 

At first, we thought the fridge door was open, and I got up to check – but no. Second time around, we blamed our cellphones, and we both got up to check – but no. Third time around, we realised it was playing a tune, so we turned on all the lights and searched under the beds – but no.

It wasn’t until the 15th time, as dawn was breaking, that I recognised the tune. It was a simple, electronic rendition of ‘Rubber Ducky’. I could even recall the words. And, half an hour later, when that muffled, high-pitched peeping started up again, I found myself singing along:
Rubber Ducky, you’re the one.
You make bath-time lots of fun
Rubber Ducky, I’m awfully fond of you … 

After breakfast that morning we turned the bach upside down and finally found the source of that stupid, mental, repetitive Rubber Ducky recording. It was a cute, cuddly, stuffed toy, abandoned in a dusty corner. 

It wasn’t even rubber.

So I did what I had to do. 

I killed it.

JOHN (GRAPEVINE’S FOUNDING EDITOR) HAS BEGUN SEEING A STRESS COUNSELLOR, AND IS FEELING BETTER. WELL, A LITTLE BIT BETTER.