Three and a half months ago our computers crashed- two of them, on the same day. Since then we have cobbled together computer time and internet access, generally using the Carnegie library computers as Olympia fought to break free and run barefoot across the marble floor, howling. I am beyond grateful for the library internet access, but I admit I much prefer to spend my time at the library reading Vanity Fair and Martha Stewart magazines. This allows me to walk while reading, trailing my child and keeping at least half an eye on her most of the time.
Thanks to my amazing in-laws, a new computer is humming smoothly on an old plank table in our music room. The computer has been set up for a couple weeks, but as soon as we got it running we realized that our intermittent completely unreliable Verizon internet connection had gone totally dead. This was not a great surprise, as our Verizon experience has been a complete nightmare start to finish. I have never experienced such terrible customer service in my entire life. I stubbornly clung to the knowledge that Verizon was the cheapest game in town for almost a year, until I finally realized that paying for nonexistant service was no bargain at all. For the past three months, we have had flickers of snail slow service once or twice a day, generally in the early morning. This is consistent with the beginning, middle, and end of our Verizon experience. My fingers are stumbling over the keys as I attempt to find the words to describe how truly horrible our service (or lack thereof) was. First, the internet didn’t work- either for days, or weeks. Eventually I would steel myself for a long overseas phone call beginning with 25 minutes of call waiting with earsplitting staticky muzak finially leading me to a conversation with a very kind customer service representative in with a thick Indian accent and no power to help me beyond requesting that I turn on and off the modem, the computer, pull out and plug in the phone line. At this point I was already doing all of this 25 times a day out of habit. After we had established that the line was, in fact, not working the Indian man or woman would schedule me a service technician who could come see me in a week and a half. This took at least an hour every time. Generally at some point before the technician appeared the internet would flicker on for two minutes and I would promptely recieve an automated call from Verizon informing me that they had noticed that the problem with my line was fixed and that they had courteously cancelled the technician for me in order to save me a call! Back to the horrible hold music, India, and THE SAME CHAT with the customer service representative. For two hours. At one point, on the verge of exploding with frustration, I asked in a crazed tone, “How is this level of beaurocratic torture possible? Are your offices actually located somewhere on the borderground of hell?” There was a brief pause and then the sound of a throat being cleared nervously. “No ma’am. We are in India.”
Several times these torturous conversations eventually yielded a visit from a technician. I think we had six or seven in all, some multiple times. None of them were able to ascertain what the problem actually was. Sometimes jiggling every line in the house had a beneficial effect and for a month or so we had consistent (albeit choppy snail speed) internet access. For the last three weeks though, no technician, no internet, just a monthly bill. Casey finally put his foot down and ordered Comcast. A human being from Pittsburgh promptly contacted him, and several more competent and apparently empowered human beings have continued to provide excellent service ever since. Yesterday a man called and installed the internet, piped straight and quick and smoothly providing access to the great wide world.
Having a new computer AND internet at home is an amazing thing. In the past day we have both caught up with various work emails and contracts. Casey has learned a judo throw and spent an hour following instructions on how to play the tabla, so that he can start accompanying my bellydance performances. I found an incredible Portugeuse Fado song to use for a fan veil performance this weekend at a fancy Gala benefit event in downtown Pittsburgh. We mapped out our schedule for the harp/baby/babysitter/martial arts class/bellydance performance Friday night, locating addresses and timetables. We saw pictures of three new babies born in the past few weeks. Olympia danced to sea shanties. We skyped with Casey’s parents in Texas. I sorted through 500 pictures from the past month and planned several blog posts… and I wrote this one. It is so very good to be back online, and back to regular posting here.
Meanwhile I still have not been able to technically quit Verizon. I called yesterday to try, and a real live person pretended to be a recording. She said in a quick and panicked manner, “Hello and thank you for choosing Verizon! At this time all computer systems are down and we are unable to access your accounts or provide any information to you at this time. Please call back later.” I began to gargle and howl incoherently. She recited her spiel again, a little more quickly, and then hung up.