Here’s a little story about why Twitter is great. It all happened over the weekend during our round trip from Montpellier to Antibes for the Keith Jarrett gig (the gig was fantastic, I’ve already posted about that below.)
After the gig, we left Antibes around midnight, and headed back onto the autoroute. As the lights of the city faded, Régine, who was driving, said to me “our headlights aren’t working properly.” And indeed, they weren’t – the sidelights were fine, high-beam was OK, but switching to low-beam plunged the road ahead into a disconcerting blackness.
Within a kilometre we saw an aire de repos with a Total station. So we pulled in, grabbed a coffee and a sandwich, and set about trying to fix the headlights. It seemed unlikely to be a bulb problem – both low-beam bulbs failing at the same time was just improbable. The most likely scenario was a blown fuse.
Régine, smart lady, had a set of spare fuses in the glovebox, and although I barely class myself as mechanically literate, I do know how to change car fuses (too many years driving second-hand Toyotas in NZ, where the engines last forever, but the electrics – mirrors, aircon, stereo – are well dodgy). So far, so good.
But we couldn’t find the fusebox. The Skoda designers had hidden it well. We emptied the car looking for it. Behind the glovebox. Under the dashboard. In the door cavities. We even looked in the spare wheel compartment and under the bonnet. No joy. We had no maintenance manual, and the guys at the service station had no idea either.
Not wanting to be stuck at a service station outside Cannes until sunrise, I turned to technology. Figuring that at least a few of my Twitter followers somewhere in the world would be online, I tweeted via text:
Within five minutes a reply came back:
Now THAT‘s why Twitter is cool. Of course, if I’d had a phone with internet access, I could have done a web search myself, but in the absence of that, a text and a network of Twitter followers worked just as effectively.
On reflection, the real benefit of Twitter in this instance is not the technology itself, it’s the type of user it attracts: high-frequency internet mavens. I knew when I texted my request that somebody among my followers, somewhere in the world, would be online and would do the internet search for me. That wouldn’t happen with my Facebook friends (sorry guys).
So, thanks to Twitter and @paulie in England, @etnobofin (standing on the side of a motorway in Southern France) was able to find the hidden panel on the side of the dashboard of a Skoda Fabia, lever it off and expose the fusebox. Within fifteen minutes we’d replaced the fuses, got the headlights working again, and were on the road back to Montpellier.
I love living in this century.