The phone was the last straw. My mom had developed a phrase: “I don’t want to waste your minutes.” It was a good phrase. I use a pre-paid plan: good for someone who doesn’t use the phone much, or uses it intermittently, so planning out monthly minutes is impossible and unlimited is wasteful. My minutes had run out, but since I was off at grad school I had the notion that I’d be using text messages a lot and having to call home, that sort of thing. So now unlimited text/minutes seemed like a pretty good idea. But I didn’t yet have a real plan, so I bought a few hours just to buy time.
“I don’t want to waste your minutes is a good phrase.” It’s an even better internalized thought. Even better as an expressed action. It was not the last of those, as indicated by multiple half-hour annoyances about shirts and who knows what else.
My DSL was still not working. As of writing this, 9:30 on Tuesday, which I’ll call August 30th because who knows what week I might be able to get this up. It was supposed to be activated Monday. For no clear reason someone needed to come by to do something outside and at 8pm that day they’d turn it on. The flashing red light disagreed with the claim that it was on. Conveniently for them, 8pm was after their office hours, so I’d have to call the next morning. Which of course I did, sticking it in before I had to go off for orientation. I talked to one guy who shuffled me off to the DSL guy. He listened to me say that the DSL light was blinking red and interpreted my to the point, factual attitude, which I use as a substitute for wasting time or yelling, as anger. I wasn’t angry yet, since I’d only woken up a little bit earlier and hey, shit happens. I was told that they weren’t seeing the modem and they’d try some tests and was then pushed to the tech guy. Or would have been, except my phone picked that as the perfect time to not have any more minutes.
Somehow 188 minutes were spent on a few minutes on hold, a few minutes of customer service, and approximately 170 minutes of utterly pointless shit that could have been done much more easily by email. When I got to campus I sent an email saying that I had run out of minutes, would get a few more to tide myself over before I got around to getting a phone plan, and please send me a text message and I’ll go use my email if we really need to talk. Keep in mind I am being very generous with these pointless conversations, since I’m pretty sure receiving messages has a cost.
In my fantasy world here is what would have happened that day. Well okay, what would happen in this very specific aspect of life. The second guy would have seen that I had this issue and had been suddenly disconnected, and rather than waiting for the next call, would have first sent along a message to the third guy, listing what I had said. Then someone would have done whatever tests they could. They would then email me the results, whether fixed or not, and if not fixed, ask about a good time for them to come check the equipment. The stuff they mailed me and charged $75 for despite being, as far as I can tell, a normal DSL modem and a normal wireless router, the second of which I never unpacked because if I’m stuck with this shit, maybe I can sell it for a few bucks or force them to take it back. But that’s beside the point. If they find that the wires at the street are fine and the modem still isn’t working and a replacement doesn’t fix it, they conclude that the phone jack or wiring is the problem and get the building managers to fix that, at their cost, since nowhere in the lease does it say “includes one (1) non-functioning phone jack.”
But all of this is essentially beside the main point, which is that I am a bit sad. At night I am alone. My friends are all far away now. I used to use IM to talk to them. Or WoW, Ventrilo, Starcraft. I had many ways to talk to them, all based on a functioning internet connection. That’s gone now. But it wasn’t so bad. I still had the phone. I could at least send a text and get something back and not feel so alone. The phone is not run out of minutes and finally, I am alone. Entirely cut off from this digital line to my friends.
It’s not the so-called “digital world” that I miss. Well okay, sure, I miss my webcomics and blogs and twitter. But those are all things I can delay, postpone, put off. It’s my friends who are cut off now.
To put it in some perspective, I don’t mean only friends I’ve been with in real life. Strange as it sounds, I’d mind that less, since there is the recognition that they are not always available. Sometimes real life doesn’t match up. And it is perfectly expected that being in another state, we’d have a lot less time together. But friends I’ve known and talked with online for years, for them to be gone, is a bit more new and a lot less pleasant. Though there was a brief time when SOMEONE WHO WILL NOT BE NAMED BUT KNOWS WHO HE IS vanished from my server for no apparent reason and it was only by luck that someone else who also won’t be named just happened to be online one day and then things were better again.
I wish someone nearby had an unsecured wireless network.
Since writing this I have gotten an email about my request for assistance. Asking for feedback. On the nothing that they did.
At least now my laptop can connect to the campus network, so I don't have to try to blog from my ipod, which is typo-prone and does terrible things with auto-correct. Unfortunately I'm not yet used to this keyboard, so my own typo rate has gone way up.
Sadly, it may be a while longer before I have internet in my apartment, since if wiring inside is damaged, I have to convince the building to fix it, and I doubt that is going to happen quickly.
Podcast: Beyond Language Barriers
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