my internet is on the blink. literally. the lights on the modem blink steadily on & off as i sit on hold with customer service, for the fourth time in the past week.
first time, i get the call center representative. in accented english, he reads out of the binder, thanking me for my patience, acknowledging my feelings with the recommended sentence starters. instead of dropping the connection every 5 minutes, i get almost 20 minutes of working wifi. 20 minutes is not as long as i think it is, as it often seems.
second time, i get a friendly midwesterner, a maternal voice that calls me “ma’am” once before switching over to “hon,” who tsks when i describe my problem like she is going to have a stern talk with my modem about manners. she schedules me in for a service appointment, a technician to come over and check the connections on the roof. she apologizes with a sincerity that is both endearing and frustrating. of course, it’s not your fault, thank you for your help! i can’t be annoyed, even as the growing pile of internet-required work i need to handle brings mounting panic. also, scandal is back this week and i can’t load hulu without wifi. this is an emergency.
third attempt, upon seeing how many times i have called in the past 48 hours, i am passed up the chain to true tech support. the voice that retrieves me from the waiting room of hold music is sharp at the edges, not mellow and sympathetic. brusque, formalities only that. this voice has not been trained to talk to other voices. its owner does not read from the binder; he glanced at it once, during the hr presentation, then buried it under a desk or used to it prop up a monitor. “are any of the lights blinking?” the voice interrupts me as i try to provide the six-word memoir of my wifi woes. i imagine it as a blue glow in a dark room. yes, the lights are blinking. right now, actually. the one labelled “online” winks at me, brazen.
“oh, no,” the steward of the internet says, interest piqued. “those should never be blinking.”
quick punches of typing fill the line. “let’s see what i can do about getting you an earlier service appointment,” he tells me, confident that he’ll find what they couldn’t find “downstairs.” it’s no use. he sounds deflated when he tells me that next thursday really is their earliest appointment.
when he apologizes, it is as if he has come into my home and broken something of mine. i resist the urge to comfort him, but the disappointment in his voice is almost too much to bear. i hang up quickly, frown at the blinking modem lights.
“i was supposed to start slicing this weekend,” i tell them. they just stare, blink, stare again.