I write because I can’t not write.  I transcribe radiology reports from home because I can’t not eat.  Both are independent pursuits, and both depend to one degree or another on the internet.  The former not so much; the latter, very much.

So last week while downloading jobs to transcribe from my employer, I discovered that my download speed had reached the point of sloth.  (Don’t get me wrong; I think sloths are cute, but they do move awful slow.)  Finally on Monday, I called tech support at work, and the IT guy ran several tests, cleaned out my cache (cookies, history, etc.), ran more tests and pronounced the problem not with them but with the connection between my computer and my ISP (internet service provider for those not computer savvy.)

My ISP shall remain nameless, but its signature color is red and it used to have a guy who’d ask if the person on the phone could hear him now.  I dreaded having to call my ISP.  I had very good reason to believe the tech guy from work; he had logical explanations for why the data he’d acquired in his testing pointed in the direction of my provider.  But would my ISP agree?

Today I made the call and reached a woman with a name which led me to believe she couldn’t have been over 30 and was more likely under 25.  (You know, “Jennifer” became popular in the 70s, “Tiffany” in the 80s, this name probably in the 90s?)  She ran a speed test.  Everything looked fine to her, but I pointed out that 30 Mbps did not reflect the actual download speed I was experiencing, like 55 Kbps or about 0.18% of 30 Mbps.  That’s less than one-fifth of 1%, people.

She ran another speed test.  And another.  She tested the line, continued to find nothing wrong, then asked me if I had any other equipment drawing on the WiFi.  Laptop turned off, phone turned off, Kindle turned off, smart phone turned off.  Only other draw was the cable box they also are in charge of.

“Is your phone off?” she repeated.

“The phone I’m talking on is wireless but is a landline.  Do I have to turn that off, too?  Because I already told you the cell phone is completely off.”

“Oh, no.  You can stay on the phone.”  Duh.

She never even had me do anything with the router/modem.  I asked her if it might be the modem.  Or that stupid box for the fiberoptics in the closet.  I guess there wasn’t a page on all of that in her reference manual.

Eventually she pronounced that it had to be my computer.  I protested.  My computer isn’t even a year old.  No excuse for the computer.  What was I supposed to do?  Pay premium price for 25 Mbps and get 50 Kbps forever?  She had no answer except to offer me the increased speed of 50 Mbps they’re currently offering at the cut-rate price of $10 more per month.  I thanked her, sarcastically of course.  Told her I appreciated “all her help” and hung up on her.

Ah, but it doesn’t end there.  Contacted tech support at work again.  By this time I was crying.  “What am I supposed to say to these people?  I can’t go on like this.”  Nice lady in support got me connected with a very knowledgeable techie by the name of Joe (yeah, his name I’ll give you because he was great).  Before he got on the phone with me, he talked to the guy I’d worked with on Monday so he had all the back story.  He ran some tests, did some pinging, and lo and behold, there it was.  A time-out in the pings.  And that’s the rub.  The answer.  And it has nothing to do with my computer.

Short story.  Rebooted the modem/router per his instructions and have much improved (though not as good as they should be) speeds.  If at any point I take on the big V in the sky again, I can count on my employer’s tech support to make it a 3-way call if I can’t make the V “hear me now.”

Oh, and one more thing.  The big V called me twice this afternoon, but when I picked up the phone, their system hung up on me.  First time they woke me up from a much-needed nap.  I hate that.  The second time, I dialed them back, went through their impossible system yelling “I want to talk to someone now” each time the lovely computer-lady voice asked me to punch in numbers for what I needed.   Spent another 20 minutes on the phone with some Bozo who had NO idea why I’d been called.  All I wanted was for them to stop calling me, and when he said, “I haven’t been able to determine why they called you yet.  Can I call you back?” I lost it.  “I don’t want a call back.  I don’t want any calls at all from you people.  Don’t you get it?  Good-bye.”  Bang.

While talking to a friend a short time later, the V called me again (go ahead, drag out your lizard tongues and eat me raw; I don’t care anymore).  I let it go to voicemail.  And when I listened to the voicemail later, the computer-lady actually spoke.  I guess when a machine answers, especially one of their own (those V are such a closed society), they don’t hang up.  Turns out they wanted to know if the person I had spoken to earlier had solved my problem.  “Press 1 for yes, 2 for no.”  It was a message; I could press nothing.

Be afraid, be very afraid.  They don’t hear us anymore.

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