Thursday, September 21, 2006

The telephone wars: waiting for Godot?

Okay, I'll set the scene: I'm trapped in my house on a beautiful day, canceling all other plans in order to wait for the telephone repair people who may or may not come within the next three hours.

In addition, they may or may not call me on my cell phone to tell me when they are or aren't coming. They may or may not decide it's "safe" (a word they refuse to define) to come up my street because they may or may not want to drive around the detour set up by the guys working on the installation of the new sewer pipes, a task that has been going on since June, much of it directly in front of my house.

There, there, neo. Take a deep breath.

A little history: last night I discovered that my landline was playing tricks on me. I could make calls out, but no calls could come in. I did the requisite unplugging and replugging and testing of the phones, but none of them could receive calls; it seemed the trouble was outside.

Phoning Verizon (are you still with me, folks?) only elicited a long chain of interactions with an electronic person of unfailing politeness. She apologized for repeatedly failing to understand me--which is more than most people do ("I'm sorry, my error again...") when I said, with increasing vehemence, "I want to speak with an agent!" (It turns out, by the way, that just saying the word "agent" will do the trick. But I digress.)

The agent instructed me to go to the outside of my house, where there is a gray tester box, and to plug in my non-remote phone for testing. This could end up saving me a lot of money if the trouble was in the phone and not in the lines. The metal box was cleverly placed in the most inaccessible corner of the building, at about the height the average eight-footer could reach handily. The cover was securely fastened on for maximum convenience, requiring a screwdriver for removal.

But I was up to the task. Opening it, I found a little diagram of its innards, including a highlighted red spot which represented the opening where the jack was supposed to be plugged in. Only problem was--as so often is the case--the map was not the territory. There was no such spot in the actual box, which did not even remotely correspond to said diagram.

Oh, and then the guys in the street told me to move my car and park it further down the road because my driveway would be blocked for the afternoon. And oh, did I forget to mention that I left my cell phone charger at the home of an out-of-town friend the other day, and that, although it's been mailed to me, it has not yet arrived? So in order to charge said phone, I would have to get into my car and drive around, not only using up precious gas and money in the process, but abandoning my post waiting for the telephone repair guy. Which of course I cannot and will not do.

There. I feel better now.

[ADDENDUM: It's OK. I'm all right. Doing that diaphragmatic breathing stuff.

They never arrived. And at 6 PM, the deadline, when I called the Verizon repair line for the umpteenth time today and barked "Agent!" into the phone, the lovely lady who answered and then called the dispatcher came back and told me they weren't coming. I could make another appointment to wait in my house for four hours tomorrow. And oh, yes, I should have insisted when I originally called that I be put on the "pre-assigned" list. Although, as I pointed out, I only just now learned that little tip.

There's more, but I'll spare you--and myself--and skip it. However, I did get my cell phone charger in the mail, so I'm all set in that respect. And I did get a promise from the Verizon woman that if I stay within a fifteen-minute range of my house tomorrow--which covers everything I need to do--the repairmen will call me on my cell phone fifteen minutes before their arrival so I can hotfoot it back.

All will be well. I can feel it:

You're sure it was this evening?
That we were to wait.
He said Saturday. (Pause.) I think.
You think.
I must have made a note of it. (He fumbles in his pockets, bursting with miscellaneous rubbish.)
(very insidious). But what Saturday? And is it Saturday? Is it not rather Sunday? (Pause.) Or Monday? (Pause.) Or Friday?....

[ADDENDUM II: Oh, and then Blogger went down for scheduled repairs when I first attempted to publish this.]

[UPDATE 9/22/06 4:42 PM: Fixed. And it only cost the paltry sum of $100 for twenty minutes of work. The culprit was an old unused jack that some previous owner had placed in an outdoor location. Time and weather had wreaked havoc on it, and it affected the entire system.]

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