I’d like to thank Comcast for inspiring this post, without whom this would not have been possible.
It is one eerie evening here in the suburbs of North Atlanta, Georgia after the storm has passed. Earlier, my wife and I had gone out to the Flying Biscuit restaurant for a nice sizeable brunch. After being seated for a bit, we noticed the crashing and flashing and lights dimming, not an uncommon weather phenomenon for this part of the country during summer.
It got worse. Louder. Brighter. Soon the hissing of rain accompanied the meteorological medley and heads were turning away from eggs, bacon and biscuits to view the increasing ferocity of the storm. One group of people had occupied a table outside on the porch. I am honestly not sure what became of them.
Despite all this, the food was great. The waitress had a great sense of humor. We were having fun. The chair was even comfortable. I offered to pay in anticipation of the credit card clearing machine going down. I wasn’t about to wash my own dishes. The waitress happily accepted.
Umbrellaless, we trudged through the rain, thunder and lightning and managed to get home without being completely drenched. I had a lot of work to do. My wife and I had planned to launch our redesigned coupon site after having worked on it all day. I was looking forward to the launch. It would have been a good launch, I felt sure.
The next thing I know I’m staring at my pc. I opened my browser and nothing happened. Something wasn’t right with the lights on my modem. The wrong lights were blinking or not enough were blinking or they were the wrong colors—something! I began to get nervous. Not a good sign. I assumed that there was likely an outage due to the storm. My Comcast high speed Internet connection was operating at a speed less than that of competitors they sometimes make fun of in commercials. What I’d do for a 56k connection about now. I noticed the whirring cicadas outside for the first time in a while. They’d been out there every night, but I hadn’t heard them.
It was time to make the call to Comcast support and start unplugging and plugging and rebooting and holding. I needed to confirm that it was in fact, a Comcast network outage and that my modem had not been stricken by lightning in my absence. The support rep was friendly and didn’t ask me to unplug from my router as they often do.
“Besides the connection problems, how’s your day been going otherwise?”
I recognized the line from the other day from when I foolishly unplugged my modem to safely open a potential SPAM email (yeah, I need to upgrade my email client one of these days) and my connection went poof. I loathe that question. It was like asking someone being waterboarded how they were faring besides not being able to breathe.
It was around this time that I realized the television screen was black.
“Let me schedule someone to come out—ah, it’s a network outage.”
I felt better knowing that it was a larger problem, that others were facing the quiet like me, not getting work done and not playing multiplayer online games. Much better. But still, that eerie, powerless, useless feeling began overtaking me as I kept opening and closing my browser and seeing “Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage” and thinking Web page is two words and Web should be capitalized. I guess the person who writes error messages didn’t know that. Such a trivial thought, but what was I supposed to think about during this severed connection.
Yes, it was an eerie evening even after the rain left. My wife and I cleaned and straightened up some items around our quiet condo. I tried turning on some music but neither of us could bring ourselves to enjoy the tunes we heard, the tunes that would sound much better under different circumstances of connectivity. We seemed to not know what to do or how to act. Perhaps we spent too much time on the Internet surfing, shopping, socializing, gaming and building Web sites?
“Let’s just spend some time together and talk,”
I finally suggested.
“Yes, let’s do that.”
Update July 2013
After 16 years, I finally dumped Comcast.
— Emory Rowland (@emoryrowland) July 5, 2013