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September 17, 2014
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What we have here, is a failure to communicate!


The past week has been an exercise in futility, to say the least. Last Thursday, we had a little snow. Didn’t amount to much; in fact I don’t think it was more than three inches. Even though it was just a dusting, the flakes were wet and dense, sticking to the trees and making the walkways slippery-—especially for me, since I’m still having difficulty navigating around the house, relearning how to use my abdominal muscles and overwhelmed with cabin fever. Then, booting up the computer on Friday morning, I couldn’t get an Internet connection and blamed it on snow, cursing the sensitive wiring, which seems to fail constantly here in the mountains.

After a few hours of it melting I tried again, to no avail. Looking outside, it was difficult to believe that such a tiny amount of snow could (IMHO) really cause a communications failure, so I picked up the phone to call my internet service provider (ISP). Adding insult to injury, there was no dial tone on the cordless, and I shook my head, making sure the battery was fully charged and checking the connection to the wall jack. Perplexed, I powered up the cell and called the help line, since both phone and Internet services were provided by the same company, who shall remain nameless. After being on hold for more than 20 minutes, I reached someone at a call center in Elmira, NY, who checked my account and announced that I had requested cancellation of both services. Still confused, but not yet fully enraged, I calmly explained that this was not the case and patiently answered all of the questions directed at me, including requests for my mother’s maiden name and the street I grew up on. “Oops, it looks like we made a mistake,” said the young lady assisting me. “I can’t imagine how that happened,” she declared just before the line went dead.

I redialed and reached a different tech support center, located in Peoria, IL. After going through the entire process again, this time giving the guy on the other end the name of my first pet, along with my SSN, I was told that the errant disconnection order was “still in the computer” and that my service would not be restored until the next day. I made it clear that I was “slightly annoyed” and requested a free month of service for my trouble. “No problem,” said Peoria. “After all, it was our error.”

Saturday came and went, with more than three phone calls, five transfers to different departments and a U.S. geography lesson thrown in for good measure, since each call landed me in a different city, while I repeated every detail to a new operator. My incision began to smart a bit, as my aggravation level rose with every transfer and I struggled to retain my composure, explaining that I was housebound from surgery and completely dependent on my ISP to not only get my work done, but also be connected to the outside world. More apologies and the promise of an additional free month of “quality service” did not serve to soothe my jangled nerves as I was told that there would be no one to help me on Sunday and that my “patience in this matter was greatly appreciated.”

Feeling neither patient nor appreciated, I threw my hands in the air (which hurt a bit), cursed my fate and took a much needed nap, silently praying for a miracle. I rose early Monday morning and started dialing. By now, I wasn’t surprised to get San Francisco on the other end, explained my predicament and was put on hold for 19 fun-filled minutes, which ended in my being redirected to a “sales manger” in Sri Lanka. The language barrier added a fresh challenge, and I lost it. I hung up on Sri Lanka and furiously dialed again, only to be put on hold, while operators “assisted” other customers.

While waiting for help from someone in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Sri Lanka had the nerve to call me back and attempt to sell me a new service contract, as if he had never spoken with me, while informing me that his name was Jonathan Fox. “That would be my name,” I (literally) screamed into the phone, stomping my foot, which popped a stitch and provided a perfect catalyst for me to shriek like a banshee, while the dog ran for cover.

Today is Tuesday. I still have no Internet connection, although my land line is inexplicably working. Unsure how to proceed from here without Valium coursing through my veins, I am trying to figure out how to get these very words to The River Reporter’s computer in Narrowsburg, since I’m still unable to drive there myself to deliver them. Although my ISP has upped the ante to three free months, I’m thinking it might be prudent to switch service providers at this point. I placed a call this morning and am presently on hold with someone in New Delhi. Can’t wait to see how the day unfolds...