For about a week – eight consecutive days – our house was something akin to a third world country: we had no Internet; we had no email; we had no landline telephone service; and, oddly enough, while we did have access to most of our cable TV stations, we did not have access to some of the upper tier stations for which we were paying.
That's some bundle.
I went into panic mode, which is usually my basic go-to option when things go wrong. My first impulse, of course, was to curse out Spectrum, our cable provider.
The cable service went out a week ago Wednesday, after the mini snow storm we had that didn't even shut down the school systems. When my cable acts up, I usually reboot the modem/router, and everything comes back to life. But this time, nothing happened.
On Thursday morning, I began the first of what turned out to be a flurry of trips to the Spectrum office on Caldcleugh Road, near the community college.
We had to wait until Saturday before a technician came out. He had this handy iPad that tells him where the hot cable lines are, whether individual routers and modems are up, and neat stuff like that. He determined that there was nothing wrong in our house, that it must be in the lines, so he called maintenance. A van arrived shortly, a cable guy got out, fiddled with some wires on a pole, and left.
Still no service.
So I talked with my neighbor on Sunday, an employee of Spectrum who is out on medical leave. He, too, was without service, although he had his own hot spot, thanks to his iPhone. We don't have an iPhone – we still use a flip phone. We're dinosaurs. In fact, I guess we're the kind of dinosaurs that die in meteor strikes and turn into future tar pits or gas reserves.
At any rate, my neighbor called for a maintenance guy, who arrived shortly, climbed a different pole, fiddled with a couple wires, and left.
But still no service.
I saw my neighbor again on Wednesday, who was shocked to learn that I was still down. That was weird, because his line was now up and running. So he came to my house with his iPad. Yep. We were down. In fact, he showed me that we were about the only house in the service node (about 1,000 devices, I guess) that was down. Great. Wehrle luck. So he put in another call.
This time, the cable guy who came out located the tap to our house, which was on a pole across the street and about a half block up the road. He climbed up, cut off a piece of cable line, replaced it, and came down.
"That should do it," he said, showing me the four-foot piece of cable he'd chopped off. It looked like it had been in a knife fight. "Squirrels," he said, showing me numerous gnawings in the line, including one area that exposed the copper wire, which tends to disrupt service when the elements hit it.
But we were back online.
Our printer still wasn't working. The Spectrum guy, who took 15 minutes to get us online, spent a half hour trying to figure out how to get our printer connected. He left in frustration.
But I had an ace. I called my friend and former colleague at The Dispatch, who is something of an IT whiz in his spare time. He came over Friday morning and spent at least 90 minutes trying to outsmart the system, evade my cat, and not bump his head on our low stairway overhead to the second floor. But he was up to the challenge and the printer was miraculously working when he left.
So we're finally online, our lives back to normal as we rejoin the technological revolution. At least, until the next squirrel attack.