Friday, September 2, 2016

No Internet, No Phone: Trying to Find the Silver Lining

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I was already majorly stressed out. A boatload of work, including a project I really didn’t want to accept. Summer heat and a lack of sleep. A newly retired husband underfoot. An ill kitty running up big-time vet bills.

Then my Internet and phone went out.

On Wednesday night, I came home from a meeting and was on the phone and noticed that my Internet connection was squirrelly. Both phone and Internet are through Frontier. The company wasn’t exactly on my good side since it was incapable of blocking telemarketing calls via Noromorobo (that’s another story).

I was working on the article from the meeting, and back and both on the Internet checking names and facts when it crapped out, period. I did as much as I could on the story and picked away at another project (that didn’t require Internet access) and attempted to troubleshoot via Frontier’s ever-so-helpful guide (not).

Finally I gave up and went to bed around 11:30 p.m., my brain still buzzing about how I could work the next day without phone and Internet.

As I’m wont to do lately, I woke up at 2 a.m., brain in full gear. I went downstairs and poked around. No Internet. Went back upstairs and dozed a bit. Back downstairs at 5 a.m. or so. Unloaded the dishwasher and set up the coffeepot. Went into the office. Lo and behold the Internet sputtered to life. I checked email and Facebook, picked at my article and edited the photos. I finally went back to bed around 6 a.m., feeling a bit better.

However, when I got up at 9 a.m., it was dead again. Yeah, that sinking feeling. I muddled through the morning, hoping the problem would resolve itself. I debated whether I should go to the library or a coffeeshop or to my editor/friend, Marcia, who was expecting my story – as well as expecting me to post another story to our direct mail list.

I gave it till 12:30 p.m. and deposited myself on Marcia’s doorstep; she thought I had evaporated from the face of earth, since we’re pretty much joined at the hip when it comes to work. I had put my story and photos on a thumb drive for her to edit and I was able to send out the other story to our list on her Dell. Good thing, because her WiFi password didn’t work on my MacBook. I remembered how much I disliked PCs, but at least I was able to check my email. I called Frontier and reamed them a few; they said they would “expedite” my ticket, but tomorrow was the best they could do.

At this juncture you ask: Well, couldn’t you just call Frontier and Marcia on your cell phone?

Well, folks, I’m probably the last person on the planet without a cell phone. The reasons are many (fodder for yet another article), but let’s leave it at that. Admittedly, this was one of the few occasions where I considered acquiring one.

I put on my best bitch pants with the Frontier chicky, who wanted a phone number where she could reach me, and I said, “Just send the tech to my door. Someone will be there.”

I returned home, the immediate crisis resolved.

A couple hours later, Frontier Tech Andrew showed up. Poor guy had run out of work and my ticket has been foisted on him because he needed to fill his hours.

A quick check showed my inside equipment was all right (no shit!), but he found a broken wire when he climbed the pole at the end of the driveway. “If this fixes the problem, it’ll be the easiest call I’ve made,” he said.

Wrong. The modem did not light up like the ubiquitous Christmas tree. Back to the pole. Then back to my doorstep with the bad news/good news. The problem appears to be on the main road. Apparently work was scheduled there already, but this call hastened the repair and workers would be there tomorrow, rather than the following day.

In an incredibly ironic twist, a woman followed Andrew up the sidewalk when he came to give me the news. (“She not with me.”) She was cold calling from Comcast and looking to offer me a bundle. I have Comcast for television and my relationship with them is, yeah, fodder for yet another article. I bitched about the problems with both Frontier and Comcast and she emphasized she could save me money.

After 15 minutes of bantering, my head was ready to explode, saving money or not. In retrospect, I thought, if Comcast goes out, we’ll be screwed out of Internet, phone, and TV! And felt a bit better for standing my ground.

So 24 hours later without Internet and email, I’m still alive. Since I work alone, I consider Facebook my watercooler; I really miss it, but I see that it’s a time sucker. However, there are hundreds of things I check regularly online in the course of a workday that I haven’t been able to do and that makes me nuts.

But I have another job I need to complete and send tomorrow. Marcia is leaving town for the weekend, but said, “My house is your house.” So I can send the file even though it won’t be completely updated.

Guy number two (Dave) showed up on late Friday morning. With the bucket truck. He said I’d be up and running within a half hour or hour. He performed a cursory check outside the house and then bucketed up the pole at the end of the driveway where Andrew had found the broken wire.

Two hours later, still no service. Husband did a drive around the neighborhood and found him on the next street. He said he had gotten stuck on traffic on Shore Drive, the main road near our house. No one ever gets stuck in traffic on Shore Drive; he was at lunch.

After another hour, I headed out to Marcia’s to use the phone and send the other story. And to track down the Frontier guy, who just happened to be finishing the job. He said the service should be restored.

Back to the house. Indeed There Was Service.

First call was to Sue who was expecting my file.

Second call was to Marcia, who had sent me a series of rather frantic emails.

This is where the story gets funny.

In dealing with Frontier, in my frustration I said I was going kidnap a Frontier tech on the street if I saw one and bring him to my house. That apparently did not go over well with Frontier “enforcement.” They had called Marcia’s looking for me and she explained the situation and schmoozed the guy, who recognized my name from the Branford Review. He understood but needed to hear from me. I gave him an earful, including the visual of a 66-year-old woman holding a burly tech guy at bay. We laughed and he closed the case, with the caveat that they take all threats seriously.

I’m old. Old enough to remember when just one computer in the office had Internet access. (Hell, I remember when there were no computers in the office!) The first website I encountered was Amazon and more than 20 years later, I check it daily to see if the price of the colored pencils I’m lusting after has gone below $193.50.

I have trouble remembering how I did research before the Internet and Google. However, I don’t require the most up-to-date computers and gadgets. I’ve had many hand-me-down Macs that have worked very well. I don’t miss the phone as much as I miss the Internet and email.

I have never underestimated the power of the Internet and its ability to produce information and foster relationships at the touch of a few keys and after this, I appreciate it even more.

Perhaps that is the silver lining.

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