December 27, 2007

Saved by the avocado

Long drives in India two months ago, long drive in the States now. One now noticeable difference is the near-absence of obvious cellphone towers here, whereas they are a feature-to-stay of the Indian landscape. Are there just fewer such towers in the US? Fewer cellphone users, or a lower density of them, so less need for towers? Or are the towers just built unobtrusively so you don't easily see them?

Whichever it is, we ran into one yesterday while hiking, on a hilltop overlooking a lush California valley. (Though friends in the valley tell me it may look lush, but they have had years of drought). It's not a great big structure as I might have expected. It's just a few feet taller than I am, and on the back of some apparatus there is a metal plate with instructions. In BIG letters, there are these words:
    Install With Drain Hole At The Bottom
On the side, in letters so tiny I have to squint and then clamber up somehow to read them, are these words:
    You can be KILLED if this product comes near electric power lines. READ INSTRUCTIONS.
Well sure, I'm trying, and if only the instructions were not in such tiny letters ...

From the bottom of the tower, an orange power cord leads uphill. Several feet, just lying on the hillside. It plugs into a socket on a small wooden stake. A metal cover on hinges is the only protection the socket has, but this one doesn't latch down as others do.

So I suddenly realize that I can bend down, yank out the power cord ... and instantly deprive a whole valley of cellphone service.

I'm tempted, I'm tempted.

Then I remember the avocados.

Not far from here, we passed an extensive avocado orchard. It is fenced. On the fence is a sign saying:
    Warning: Avocado theft is a crime. All suspicious persons and activities will be reported immediately. Punishable to 1 year in jail and/or $500 fine or more. California Penal Code Section 487.1 California Acovado Commission.
So if I disconnect power to the cellphone tower, is that "suspicious activity"? Would someone who saw me doing it report me immediately? Would the Avocado Police fling me into jail for a year?

I quake at the thought. The town sees no unexplained cellphone service interruption.


Anonymous said...

There are towers alright, but mostly hidden on hills etc., Still people don't like it over here and look at them as an eyesore or worst. Some of the famous hiking spaces near my town have those. But then where I live, people are environmentally radical so to speak, which is nice.

Prasoon said...

you obviously could have got a lil naughty and ended the post by saying - the town saw brief unexplained cellphone service outage ;-)

Anonymous said...

Wow, I really admire your ability to travel all over (India and the US) so frequently. How do you fund these trips? BTW, do you have a green card?

Samir said...

Fewer towers = awful coverage as well.

Dilip D'Souza said...

do you have a green card?

Used to. Not any more -- I turned it in ten years ago.