Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cable cut-off deja vu

I feel like we're starting to turn into a "reality show." Every day is a new drama to contend with, some our own fault, some not. And I'm not even sure which category this one falls into.

As you all know by now, we were supposed to move last Friday, Nov 13. We did not. This change in plan necessitated phone calls to a couple of utilities to continue service at the current house until we do actually get to move on Friday, Nov 20. Now, we are not having the power, water, or gas cut off at the current house, but we were scheduled to have the phone and cable service disconnected. Remember, I work at home, so external communication capabilities are required.


Monday afternoon, just before 2 PM, the television suddenly froze. A message box popped up on the screen that said something to the effect of "One moment please, this channel is currently unavailable. If the problem persists, please contact [cable company]." About this time, I also heard the unmistakable "ding" of my work computer disconnecting from the secure network. No cable TV, no cable internet. They've been doing a *ton* of utility work lately, and it has been affecting both my cable and my phone service off and on for over a month now. Cable interruption usually takes one of two forms: either it's back in under 5 minutes, or it is out 30-60 minutes. I kept trying to reconnect every 10 minutes or so. After 2.5 hours, I finally call it in.

There is no widespread outage reported in my area. I ask to be press buttons until I am connected with someone in the television department. The have record of us pushing out the new connection at the new house, but it still shows us scheduled for disconnection of service that day (Monday). However, she swears up and down that no one has been sent to the house, so we should still have service. I find that hard to believe, but okay. She changes our disconnect date to Nov 23, so that should prevent them from actually doing the physical disconnect (that I still think has already happened, but she still says no it hasn't). She then transfers me to the internet department to see what they can see. They, too, report that no one has been sent to the house, so our service should still be active. "It must be a repair problem. We can have someone there tomorrow during an 11AM-2PM window."

So let me get this straight. #1: You are asking me to believe that even though your own system says service was scheduled to be terminated today (even though DH swears he had them change the cut-off date when they changed the new service date), just because your computer does not show the work as done, you are absolutely certain the disconnect did not happen? Rebuttal: I've issued enough work tickets in my time to know that just because the ticket does not show complete yet does NOT mean that the work hasn't been done. It just means that they have not yet had a chance to close the ticket in the system. #2: You are also asking me to believe that it is sheer coincidence that the day your computer says we are scheduled to have service terminated at the current house is the same day I have a mid-afternoon service failure at my house that will require a repair? Rebuttal: I will admit we have had rather a bad run of luck recently, and while not impossible, I find that theory highly improbable. Guess we'll see.

In the meantime, I am very limited in my job functionality because I cannot "see" any of the systems I need to do my job properly. We were also going to miss the semi-finals of Dancing With the Stars which, though not life altering, is rather frustrating! I actually went to Panera after dinner to download any of my email from that afternoon and handle any big problems that may have come up since my "loss of signal" at 2. When I got home at 9:30, I filled in hubby on all the details, including one I had neglected to mention earlier. Not only is our service out, it also will not allow us to access our DVR. We usually have access to recorded programs, even if the incoming signal is gone. This, to me, is a clear sign of a service issue. It *could* have been that our actual cable box was bad, but that wouldn't explain the lack of internet. DH decides to call again, just to see if the ticket was worked today and input in the system sometime after 4:30 and is *now* showing up on their screens. Nope, a 3rd person swears that the disconnect has not been worked, so it must be a repair issue. If you say so. I just hope that if the physical disconnect *has* been worked, whoever you are sending on Tuesday is not "just a repair guy" but can also reconnect us. If not, and we have to wait for another service call, I'm going to be really ticked.

[Side note: We ate dinner out, taking separate cars. I picked up Luke in my car and met DH at the restaurant. DH took Luke home in his car while I went to Panera. Only after I got home around 9:30 did I realize that I had Luke's kitty in my car! DH knew how upset I was and how much I needed to get some work done, so he didn't even call me when he realized it, he just put Luke to bed and promised to bring up Kitty as soon as I got home. I felt like a terrible mom! But all things considered, Luke handled the whole thing very well.]


Tuesdays at work are very busy for me, but DH has taken off so much unexpected time off work of late, we came to a compromise. I would take Luke to school, then go to the McDonalds just up the street that advertises Wi-Fi. I would work there until about 9:30, then be home by 10 in case the cable fixer guy came early (unlikely, but if I didn't get home until 10:30, I was convinced I would have missed him, simply given our luck of late). DH would go into work an hour early and take a half day off, coming home to relieve me for the "cable watch" so I could go back to some Wi-Fi spot and continue working. Great plan, right? Except that McDonalds does not have *free* Wi-Fi! By the time I finally got connected enough and then read all the gobbledy-gook and realized they were charging (not a lot, but still!), I would have had to purchase a 2-hour block of time and only get to use 45 minutes of it. I packed up and went home. My co-workers were kind enough to supply me with phone numbers of some people I needed to contact, and I did the best I could while I was home feeling completely disconnected from the world.

Good thing I went home! At 10 AM sharp, the phone rang. It was the cable guy; he was sitting in my driveway. (Remember, our assigned service window was 11AM-2PM. Score one for me for being prepared!) He comes to the front door with several bits of testing equipment. I begin explaining the problem, including the part about having to move the move and the computer still saying we were supposed to be disconnected on Nov 16, but that 3 different people during 2 different calls have *sworn* it was not disconnected at the house. He turned and walked right back out the front door and looked across the street to where our cable connects to the pole outside. "It is physically disconnected. I can see it from here." [insert mental string of color metaphors here] "Let me go see if I can reconnect it without having to call a service crew with a cherry picker." The cable was connected a good 15-20 feet up the pole, and he only had a ladder. A big ladder, but still. I was *terrified* watching him go up there, but he did it, which I most sincerely appreciated. By the time he gave me the thumbs up, my television and internet were both working. I thanked him profusely, and he left. I called my husband, since it was only about 10:20 AM, hoping he hadn't left work yet. "The cable is back. Don't come home. Stay and work." Okay, he said, but since he came in early, he would be home a bit early, probably just after 3. Great! Problem solved.

Or so I thought.


I've had my cable back for over 3 hours now. I am typing away on an email, trying to get it out before my 2PM conference call, with the television on in the background. Suddenly, the TV noise cuts out. At nearly the same instant, my work laptop boots me off the network. "It's like deja vu all over again." I am now steaming mad! I glance outside at the street, just to make sure it was not another physical disconnect, but I already have a suspicion as to what is going on. Even though she had changed the disconnect date in the computer to Nov 23, I was willing to bet money that the message had not been received by the service department, so they had cut off the actual service (not physically, but via computer), since the physical disconnect was done the previous day. Again, having worked in this type of job long enough, I have no doubt that when the guy issued the "complete" on the physical disconnect, it triggered some sort of work ticket/work queue to the service people to cut off the actual service, so even though the date was changed in the computer, the disconnect ticket completion notice trumped what was done Monday. The right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing, so to speak.

The problem was, I had 15 minutes to be on a conference call, and as of 1:45 when I lost service, I had not yet received the spreadsheet I needed! I threw all of my stuff into a bag and raced to Panera, hoping to arrive in time to set up and download email before the call started. I also called my husband. I was practically spitting the words. "We have no cable television or internet." I thought they reconnected us this morning, he says. "THEY DID!! I bet they cut off our service in the computer once they were notified that the physical disconnect was done. I am leaving the house to go to Panera right now for my 2PM call. You call [cable company] when you get home." I dialed in to the conference bridge as soon as I parked the car, right at 2PM. By the time they got to my first project (3rd or 4th on the list), I was powered up and looking at the spreadsheet. DH called around 3:30 to report that my theory was correct and all service had been restored. Whew!

I cannot thank Panera enough for offering free Wi-Fi!! (And quite comfy chairs with mini-desks and near floor outlets.) They really saved me two days in a row. Funny how I used computers for a good 15 years (1983-1998) either before the internet existed (to the public) or without an internet connection at my dwelling and found computers both useful and fun. Even after I first got online, I really only had access at the college computer lab (no internet in the dorm back then), yet my dorm room computer was tremendously helpful. Since then, we've had a home internet connection for 10 years, and I now consider my laptop practically useless without an internet connection. My my, how things change.

Believe it or not, our trials and tribulations for Tuesday were not yet over, but that completes the cable debacle portion of the program. I'll save the next chapter in my tale of woe for a separate post.

Currently feeling: ready to work from home (not Panera)

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