There I am, cross-legged on the sheepskin rug upon which my offspring – pretty, gorgeous, delightful – sprinkles her milk, raisins and nasal produce. Can of lager to my right, a couple of laptops in front of me, Blackberry to my left. The TV blares, Barcelona are playing Inter Milan. The game to watch, the game I’m not really watching.
Since we moved a few weeks ago the broadband has worked during the day with the stoic reliability of one of Hannibal’s elephants, but drops its connection during peak evening hours with such ineffable consistency that I could now find the restart button on the router on a dark night during a power cut, even if it was inexplicably sitting in a dark alley surrounded by dark alleycats drinking stout too dark for even Jimmy Bastard to imbibe.
“Listen,” I said, using my best “tearful customer” voice, “it is clear there is a contention issue. The connection is fast, reliable and perfect all the time except during peak evening periods. Then it drops. Until about 11PM, which it re-establishes itself.” But by then I’m too tired to update my Facebook status.
She, that lovely and hard-working “technical support” person, wasn’t too interested in my deduction. If I could try this, that, the other, try this socket and that socket, or experiment with the yellow Ethernet cable.
“But the problem HAS to be contention,” I butted in, fed up of the scripted yakking that was flooding down the phone line, all thirty-six pages of it, making my ears bleed and spoiling the game. “Either the exchange cannot handle the demand OR some of the locals are hogging the capacity.” Flaming students and teenagers.
“We need to monitor the line and do some diagnostics and...”
“Well the connection has dropped now,” I said, taking a swig and glancing forlornly at my seventeen wireless-enabled devices continue to search for a connection.
“It can’t be done in YOUR time,” she said, “it must be done in OUR time.”
“Well I’d suggest getting on with it right now,” I said curtly. Hey, a couple of weeks with no evening Internet is pretty much as bad as it gets.
When the “call-back” came I had the worst case of pins and needles since the great sewing-box accident of ’69. The rug may be soft and, even better, padded with raisins, snot and dried milk, but the floor underneath is hard and I hadn’t moved. Other than to take a leak and snatch another can of cheap Dutch lager from the fridge.
“There’s a problem at the exchange,” she said, “an engineer will be out to fix it and will call you in the next 48 hours.”
“Just curious,” I said politely, “what is the problem exactly?”
I listened to her vague and frankly incognisant spiel about switches being a bit like light switches and all that nonsense. Moments later the router re-established its connection and all seventy-four of my wireless-enabled gadgets sprang into life like a herd of mountain gazelle dancing in the joys of Spring.
Presumably there was an “allow customer broadband access during peak times” checkbox on her Customer Details screen.
And they wonder why us Brits are so cynical?
I suppose it could have been the cheap Dutch lager that fixed the problem.