Something for the weekend, sir? Bzzz. The number of the incoming call is “Unknown”. Of course I refuse. While I am intrigued by the idea of receiving mysterious calls from The Unknown, they are disappointing to answer.
Bzzz. This guy is persistent: it’s the fourth time he’s tried to call at the last minute. He must Really want me to install this new kitchen / swimming pool / solar panels / conservatory / sheep farm / fiber broadband / large hadron accelerator.
Wait. Fiber broadband … that rings.
My doorbell rings. An impatient broadband technician stands in front of the door, holding a cell phone with the words “Call rejected x 4” on the display. I love when idioms become literal.
He came to check my connection because there was an error. I don’t have time for that: I have an appointment for something on my calendar shortly. As if to prove it, I instinctively wake up my smartphone to show it and try to act casually while wiping away the “Declined call x 4” notification. See? I just have an appointment.
It reads, “Broadband Engineer Visit.”
Ah yes, it all comes back to me. I had settled down to watch the final of the postponed Euro 2020 soccer tournament on Sunday night and my cable TV was frozen at the moment of kick-off. Well of course it worked. I am used to it. My cable TV service delivers 900 channels of unwanted reality shit in UHD 24/7 with no glitches, but on the fleeting rare occasions when I actually want to see something that interests me, TITSUP * does. It’s all part of the game of life.
Sod’s Law requires a mandatory process before an out-of-court settlement can be reached. First you need to restart your set-top box; If this doesn’t work (it won’t) restart your router AND your set-top box; If that doesn’t work (it doesn’t work) then turn off both your router and set-top box, unplug the cables, and wait two minutes before reconnecting and restarting. and so on.
At some point I brought the TV stream back to life by turning everything off and off, turning off the light, running the cold water tap in the kitchen sink, turning around three times and repeating the words “sempiternal tolerant” aloud, stepping outside, mine . locked the front door, unlock my front door, go back inside, turn three times in the opposite direction and repeat “bird protection”, stop the running water tap, turn on the light again, connect everything again and start again.
I actually had to do this twice when the first time I accidentally got the “turn off lights” and “run cold water tap” steps out of order.
Ah, fiber broadband at home. The service that is open to everyone.
‘Fiber optic broadband – accessible to everyone!’ In the truest sense of the word, as you can see here.
All of this saved at least enough miserable bandwidth to see the second half of the game in SD, plus overtime and even the England team’s long-term contractual obligation to lose on penalties. Fortunately, my team had already beaten Germany a week earlier, so I didn’t have to watch one of the team managers indulge in touchline scratch-and-sniff. Something like that really puts me off my beer and Doritos.
On one of the two occasions, when I stood outside my own front door for a moment that night, some passers-by looked suspiciously in my direction, so I pretended to check my smartphone for something that covered my reasons for loitering on one Threshold in pajamas would confirm.
Brain wave. I decided to take the opportunity to report the service outage to my fiber broadband provider via the wonders of 4G. Three days later, I took the automatically assigned technician appointment and promptly forgot about it between the last half of extra time and Marcus Rashford’s dazzling improvised river dance on penalties.
Before that, the last time I sat in front of the TV just to watch a sports final was at the Six Nations rugby competition in March. Just three seconds after this game, the television went blank. To be fair to my broadband provider, the lights and all other electrical devices throughout the house and even in the adjacent streets.
I ended up watching the rest of the game on my smartphone. I know Kidz prefer to see movies and stuff, but I don’t. You lose something the size of a major sporting event if some of the chilli tortilla chip you nibble falls on the screen, obscuring half the playing field.
While I was thrilled to see 30 tiny men fighting for the one-millimeter sphere on my smartphone, Ms. D. called the electricity company to ask when the electricity would be restored. They thanked her for letting them know that there had been a power outage.
“Glad to be of service,” she said. “Contact me if you need further assistance and quote the code YU55L355BGGR5.”
The power came back when the referee whistled the final whistle.
Right now the broadband technician has reset the line on the wall and my beautiful personal 2-way gigabit per second is restored. When he leaves I ask him if the problem was due to something I did.
Do plugs or cables need to be replaced? “No.”
Was there a local dropout at the provider? “No.”
So what caused it? “No idea.”
That’s the problem with technicians: they try to fob you off with technical jargon.
I remember the two times I booked an appointment with my water company to install a water meter. Both times they sent a contractor to ask me where the utility line got into the house. I told them I had no idea. Didn’t you know? Apparently not. So both times they left without doing anything.
It wasn’t until later that I wondered what would have happened if I hadn’t paid my water bill. They would send someone to my house to interrupt me, I suppose. They asked me where the utility line led into the house. I would honestly tell them that I still have no idea. Of course not either, so they just had to leave, their dark task unfulfilled, and leave me with free water forever.
Another part of the game of life, I suppose.
Still, my cable TV is all sorted now. So I’m giving you a fair warning: if you hear about an earthquake, tsunami, or plane crash in my forest, it’s because I’m trying to watch the Olympics. ®
Alistair Dabbs is a freelance tech freak who juggles tech journalism, training, and digital publishing. He’s a floating sports fan who shamelessly switches support between national teams at will. That’s what it is to be a Scottish Englishman living in continental Europe. More at Autosave is for wimps and @alidabbs.
* Television in total suspension – picture not available