I woke up the is morning to see the message light blinking on our kitchen phone. When I picked it up there was a spooky crackle and the message "line in use" on the phone screen.
Since Kathie, my wife, was sitting across the kitchen table from me, and unless one of our resident mice was calling for reenforcements, there were no other potential users.
The sound reminded me of an old Twilight Zone episode where strange, crackly calls were coming from the protaginist's phone and it turned out they were originating from a grave yard where the phone line had gone down.
Kathie was reminded of some horror movie where the homicidal maniac turned out to be making his calls from inside the house.
Once we had eliminated calls from the grave and lurking homicidal maniacs, she said "well, see if you can get it fixed," and blithely headed off for a fun filled day at the office.
I dread dealing with Comcast because I always get angry and always wind up on another continent. The troubles go back a long way with battles over bundling, unbundling, rebundling, etc. When we put our phone service with them in one of the bundling battles, we did not get the Welcome New Members kit nor our PIN number. So at 10:00 AM, I tried to log on to my account only to discover that what I thought was my password and user ID did not work. Without these, I cannot even collect my messages from another phone. So I was sent to a chat room where I was asked to explain my problem and was told I would be given a new password and user ID.
Turns out in the course of "chatting" with "Julie" that, not only don't I have a password or ID, but neither my wife nor I have our social security number on the account. Julie asks for the account number. This requires me to get a bill which is filed on the office on the third floor of our home, and I am in the kitchen. Up the three flights of stairs I race before Julie times out and I slide in under the wire with my account number.
Fine, she types, now what is your PIN? I don't have a PIN, I reply. Well, we can't proceed until we issue you a new PIN. I will call you with it on your phone. THE PHONE DOESN'T WORK. THAT'S THE WHOLE POINT!!, I fire back. Oh, we will have to mail it to your home address. You will have it in five business days. I NEED MY PHONE AND MESSAGES NOW, I fire back wishing I had bigger yelling type.( How am I supposed to tell all the Republican candidates that have been calling here lately to go fuck off if I can't get my messages?) Sorry, she says, I don't deal with tech issues, I am trasferring you to another chat room.
Off I go and am chatted up with "Kevin." What is your problem?, he taps. I describe it again. What is your PIN?, he asks. I DON'T HAVE A BLEEDING PIN AND I WON'T HAVE ONE FOR FIVE DAYS. Let me see what I can do he responds.
We apparently overcome this hurdle and he announces that he is running a diagnostic of my line. Great he says, we can fix it from here. Please reset the modem with a paper clip.
A word about our house and layout here: Our home is three stories connected by spiral staircases sometimes called Jersey winders or cupboard stairs; the cable modem is on the third floor; a dial up corded phone (don't ask why we still have this) is in our bedroom; A two extension wireless is on the first floor.
I reset the modem and race back down to the first floor where I have left my laptop. Done, I say. Okay, comes the response, do you have a corded phone you can attach directly to the modem? Be sure you connect to Tel. 1 port. Yes, I reply, and race to the second floor grab the phone, and race to the third to hook it up to the modem. It doesn't work. I sprint down to first floor to the computer and report my failure. Okay, try port 2, he types. Back up the two flights I go, wisely taking the computer with me this time.
I connect to port 2. Nothing. Okay, now go unplug and reattach the first floor phone. Off I go. Nothing. Of course, I have left the computer on the third floor and race back to check in. He is gone. A message on the screen relates that he has other customers and must "leave the room." He gives me a link for "further help should I need it."
I hit the link and am told I cannot chat unless I enable the Java applet, which could be some kind of oriental fruit for all I know. I do this but must exit and reconnect my browser and re-enter the chat room. After a short wait, I am connected with "Erik." Based on the wording of his responses and his use of please and thank you, I am convinced I have left the good old USA.
He is very patient. I explain my layout and that I need some time to go up and down. We are going to fix this problem, no matter how long it takes, he types. This to me is good news and bad.
To make a long story a little shorter, we did the modem reset (disconnecting me from the computer on several occasions), port one and port two connect, phone shut down and replug often enough to send my ass muscles into spastic seizures. After one of his requests for yet another trip upstairs, I typed back: "pant, pant."
He asked me one last time to connect the corded phone directly into the modem. NOT AGAIN!, I barked. The purpose of this is to take the possibility that my house phone is malfunctioning out of the equation.
As I stagger up and plug it in, I notice that the handset cord is not plugged into the phone so, of course, when I put it to my ear, there is no dial tone. I feel a little bit like I have just been through a Three Stooges routine with me as Moe.
When I plug it in everything works. I choose not to inform Erik of my plug-in miscue although I am sure he suspected me of being implicated in the problem. I just say that everything is back. After he disconnected, I am sure he turned to the co-worker at the next desk and said: "And they call us a third world country?"
I looked at the clock and it was 11:30. An hour and a half of wind sprints up and down the stairs. Now I have to go cement the basement floor. Being retired is exhausting.