Modern technology is absolutely wonderful -- until it's not. Last Thursday it wasn't, and in my efforts to get my bundled communication service up and running that I almost lost my religion and I did, in fact, use words that I forgot I even knew. I am absolutely confident that the Almighty will forgive me, however, and if Heaven has the same "service" provider I have -- well, dealing with them might not have caused God to cuss, but I bet Simon Peter has let a few choice words slip out here and there.
If you could have been a fly on the wall at my house you would never again wonder about the meaning of the word frustration. I was foaming at the mouth, tearing my hair out, my blood pressure was through the roof, and we finally answered the age-old question, "Does that guy even have a heart?" Mine was beating at about a thousand ticks a minute. I was spitting mad, and if you've lived in the American South any length of time, you know that spitting mad comes about a nanosecond before pitching a hissy fit -- which is way yonder worse than a conniption.
The day began well. My lovely wife, Lisa, and I found ourselves enjoying a rare day off together. We took our time over our morning coffee and she even made pancakes for breakfast, complete with maple syrup (don't tell my doctors) and Holifield Farm pure pork sausage. The hot kind.
We had a delightful lunch at church and then came home, looking forward to a nice relaxing afternoon. That's when we discovered that nothing worked at our house. When I say nothing, I mean nothing. Telephone? No dial tone. Internet? No signal. Television? Not even a stinking test pattern. If you aren't familiar with the term test pattern, ask an old person.
Now in the old days, I would have at least had a clue what to do about one or two of those maladies. If I couldn't get a television signal, but the electricity was still on, I would climb on the roof to see if the antenna wire had come loose. If the telephone wasn't working I would have gone next door and dialed 0. The operator would have come on the line, apologized for my inconvenience, and had somebody out to get me going again in no time. The Internet? I would never have heard of the Internet -- or anything wireless, or a computer, for that matter.
In 2012, however, being out-of-pocket, electronically, presented more problems than I could say grace over. For one, I had 4,000 Facebook friends awaiting my every post with bated breath. I needed to thank the ladies at church for doing such a great job with the luncheon and had a song lyric stuck in my head that I needed to post and with less than 75 shopping days left until Christmas, I needed to plug my new book.
The vice presidential debate was only six hours away. I had to hunker down and watch that -- not to mention the baseball playoffs and "The Mentalist" and the phone -- well, I really didn't care if the phone stayed out indefinitely -- but I needed the Internet and the television.
"No problem," I thought. I will just call up my service provider and let them know we have a problem. Oops. I didn't actually know who our service provider is. I knew that we had switched around a few times to take advantage of low introductory rates and I knew that we had combined all our services under one umbrella. What was it Benjamin Franklin said about putting all your eggs in one basket?
I soon learned that it really didn't matter which service provider you use because none of them have any intention whatsoever of talking to you in person about anything. I used my trusty smartphone -- which did still work, thanks to something called 3G -- and Googled every company I could think of. Each website was as confusing as the next and each offered dozens of buttons to click for a myriad of problems, none of which happened to be, "Nothing works."
Finally, after about 30 minutes, I did find a number to call for the company that I thought took care of our technology needs. After dialing an 800 number and listening to dozens of prompts, a guy in India told me that I didn't have service with that particular company.
Thirty minutes later and I had the telephone number of another company. After another long series of prompts and starts and stops a guy in New Jersey promised me that another guy from Atlanta would be by my house to check out the problem right away. He couldn't promise they'd be here in time for the debate but he was almost certain they could have me up and running in time to watch the election returns.
He didn't say what year's election returns.
So here I am, somewhere between the devil and the deep blue sea, hoping that someone will be by in a few days to turn my world back on. In the meantime -- anybody read any good books lately? I think I'll be doing a little reading this weekend.
I just hope my Kindle isn't connected to all that other stuff.
Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.