Improved Connections

It was a first-world problem certainly but it led to encounters with 2 people whose backgrounds were different than mine but who I connected with seamlessly.

I woke up on the Sunday following the deadly events in Charlottesville to find that my cable and internet (from the same provider) were both out. My plans for the day had centered around staying in and catching up on some housework and writing tasks while binge-watching a tv series I’d just discovered. In the wake of the previous day’s events some news-watching would also be in order. I used precious wireless data to catch up on news headlines on my tablet then did all the cable/internet troubleshooting I could, mainly turning the cable box and modem off then back on again. No joy.

I called the provider and between being on hold then going through the troubleshooting process again with a customer service rep, spent about 2 hours total on the phone. While reviewing my account, the rep noted that my cable box was on the antique side – I had DVR recordings dating back to 2010 stored on it – and pointed out that I could upgrade both my cable and internet service and end up with a lower monthly charge. I’d been thinking about doing this anyway so I agreed. Only it meant scheduling 2 different service calls, one for the immediate repair and one for the upgrade installation. It also meant missing several hours of work during a week when my workload really couldn’t spare me, but getting my internet back on was key. I set up a Monday repair appointment, with a Friday appointment for the upgrade.

Monday’s technician was Jeremiah, a 30ish African American with kind eyes and a super-chill demeanor. I felt an easy connection to him immediately. So did both of my cats. They normally hide under the bed when someone they don’t know is in the house but they both came out to the living room to be admired. After some investigation, Jeremiah determined the problem wasn’t just with my setup and likely affected the whole building and possibly the entire condoplex. He escalated the issue to the next level and packed up to leave. I handed him a heart. The bright light in his eyes got brighter. He smiled while staring at the heart in his hand then turned to me and asked for a hug. I obliged. Maybe it was because of the good vibe, maybe it was just efficiency on the provider’s part, but when I got home from work that night both cable and internet were working again.

Friday’s technician was Grigori, a 30-something originally from Uzbekistan. He had light blue eyes and a demeanor as chill as Jeremiah’s. I again felt very connected to him and so did the cats. While Grigori set up my new cable box and modem we chatted amiably about his travels in the US, his work history in the meat-packing business and his aspiration to work for the government. After the setup was complete and Grigori had given me a tutorial on using the voice remote and a quick rundown on the new features, he packed up to leave. I handed him a heart as he proffered his phone for me to “finger sign” the work order. He smiled in genuine delight. “Ok,” he laughed, “finger sign the work order with a heart!” I did, although for all that I identify with hearts I can’t draw one very well.

As much of a pain in the ass missing several hours of work was this week, the good news is that I’m once again digitally connected with the world, and at a faster speed. Not to mention better connected with 2 more humans.

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