Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Yesterday morning I sat down to write and heard a large utility to truck roar down the lower road. A few minutes after that I lost my Internet connection. The big truck roared away.

I contacted the phone company, an act of futility on the best of days. My suspicion is that the people in technical support aren't really technicians. I believe they are simply kids working their way through college who are handed scripts with lists of things to try (I should know, I was a kid in college once and, I too, had a script). When those things fail, they advised to a)make something up and get rid of the customer, with the belief that most things will resolve themselves. b) Recommend the customer buy a new modem/filters/or upgrade their connection and send them to the department that makes those sales or c) put in a work order for someone to fix it.

I feel a little sorry for them, because I'm just computer savvy enough to be dangerous, so generally by the time I've called them, I've already run through all the steps they are going to recommend and I don't want to try them again. However, every time, they doggedly insist on doing so. (I've uncovered an unpleasant fact about myself of late. I'm getting grouchy as I get older and I don't always pay attention after I've determined that I'm right about something).

Yesterday was no different . . .

I first spoke with a young woman who ran me through the standard restart tests, ect. After which she told me there were outages in the area and they were working on them. She advised that I try connecting again in a couple of hours and contact them if I couldn't. In two hours, I still had no Internet so I called them again. That technician (after running me through the same list of tests) told me that the other outages were minor and had been resolved and insisted the problem had to be with my dsl filters and that I needed to buy buy some new ones. I'd already disconnected the phones and tested the lines without them, I told her. She tried one last ditch effort.

This is my favorite part of the conversation.

"What color modem do you have Ma'am? Black or Silver?"

"It's blue. As I said it's one of your older models. A Netopia 3341."

"Well, Ma'am, they are usually black or silver. Which color is it closer to?"

Maybe she was hard of hearing, I reasoned. "It's Blue. B-L-U-E."

"It's black then."

"No. It's blue. Plastic cover and about four years old."

"Okay. Is your ready light on?"

"I don't have a ready light. I do have . . . " and I read the list of lights off to her.

"Okay, well you should have a ready light . . . ."

"Is the same as my power light?"

"No. It says your modem is getting a signal."

"Oh. You mean the DSL Sync light. No. It's not on. That's why I think there's a problem in the line somewhere outside the house."

"Okay Ma'am. Well, I've put a work order in and sometime in the next forty-eight hours someone will probably contact you. It may be a matter of someone needing to reset a switch."

"It takes 48 hours to hit a switch?"

"Yes. Ma'am."

Last night I called one last time--this time intent on being a nuisance as I know that nuisances get more attention. I had a teenage son who needed the Internet to finish his school work and I had work e-mails I needed to reply to. I'm a polite nuisance, though, so I often fail anyway.

The tech I spoke with had his wits about him. No diagnostic tests. He agreed that 48 hours was a ridiculously long time to wait and he would see what he could do to flag the order. I thanked him profusely. On his own, he stated that he was fairly sure that someone had accidentally hit the wrong switch in the process of doing something else.

This morning I sat down to write and listened to the truck on the lower road as it roared by. A couple of minutes later, the internet was back up. The truck roared away.

A field technician (telephone man?) called me a few minutes ago. I thanked him for his timely response. I didn't ask for a cause, but he was quick to tell me that my modem had "gone to sleep".


"That's what we call it ma'am. Your modem is over a year old right?"


"That happens sometimes with those older modems."

"But I was using it when it disconnected."

"Well, that's what the problem was. It happens sometimes."

"That's interesting, because after all the reboots and powering it down by unplugging it, I even went in and reset the whole thing. I'd think if it was asleep, that should wake up."

"You reset it? That's really not advised ma'am. You have to put your password in and username and reconfigure it."

"It's not that big a deal. I've done it a couple of times over the years when I updated the firmware. A computer tech I used to work for taught me how. Anyway, it's working now, so thank you."

"Well, just so you know. We don't usually advise that . . . "


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