Friday, May 6, 2011

"Can You Hear Me Now?"

One of the quirks of living in a house with 12 inch thick solid stone walls is that cell phone reception inside those walls is basically non-existent. We don’t have a landline, but our cell phones usually work fine in the (wood frame) kitchen, so this is a quirk that I typically accept with a little smile. After all, quirkiness can be one of the most endearing features of an antique home.

But quirkiness quickly degenerated into annoyance on Wednesday evening. Technically, there were already two strikes down by the time Charles picked up his cell phone. The first strike came 11 months ago, either when Charles resigned himself to the fact that if he didn’t want to have to live with dial-up internet he would have to live with Hughes Net, or perhaps (and more likely) it came shortly thereafter when Charles attempted to download a half hour episode of some sitcom and Hughes Net cut the video 27 minutes in because we had reached our daily download allowance. Strike two was Wednesday morning, when we woke up to no internet.

Strike three held off until Wednesday night. After fruitless attempts at resolving the issue himself, Charles grudgingly accepted my suggestion to call the technical support number for Hughes Net. Standing the kitchen, he looked up at me while dialing the number and said, “You know that the computer is in the stone part of the house.” Yes, I knew.

After several minutes of navigating through Hughes Net’s automated help line, Charles finally was speaking with another human being (albeit one with a pronounced foreign accent). He asked Charles which lights were lit on the modem. With determination lining the muscles of his face, Charles stepped into the dining room. His cell phone promptly beeped as it dropped the call.

Call number two ended with the same beep.

By his third call, Charles was able to answer the automated system’s series of questions before they were even asked. “Yes, no, yes, 419-672-….., no, no, technical support…. TECHNICAL SUPPORT”. And by the time he reached a third human being (albeit one with a pronounced foreign accent) Charles had accepted the futility of pitting Verizon against the Einsel House’s stone walls. So the cell phone remained in the kitchen for the next twenty minutes while Charles traipsed back and forth – kitchen to computer to kitchen to computer – following in vain the various suggestions put forth by Hughes Net’s technical support. Our internet was still not working when Charles finally, and of his own volition, ended the call. Hughes Net is sending a technician to the house to resolve the problem. In the meantime we’ll be without internet service at home for 7-10 days.

It's going to be a long week for my husband.

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