I tried to retrieve my email yesterday morning, but I couldn’t get online. I’m pretty helpless when it comes to servers and web hosts, so I called my wife at work and told her I was really bummed because I had a busy day planned and couldn’t do a thing without my morning email fix.
She asked if our cable was working. I hadn’t bothered to check so I thought fast and said “Yes,” while reaching to turn on the nearest television. Bingo! A bright sharp screen full of talking heads. I made an excuse about having to take another call and dialed the cable company. After the usual series of recorded prompts, I reached a very pleasant sounding voice that thanked me for calling and wanted to know how she could help. Between sobs, I did my best to explain, “My TV works and my email doesn’t.”
The nice cable lady told me not to worry, “everything will be all right,” and assured me she could fix the problem if the modem was accessible. I felt better already as I ran down the stairs to my wife’s home office, where it sat in the corner, glowing on the bottom bookshelf, across a no-man’s land of organized clutter. I counted 13 piles of papers and books strategically placed on the floor like a mine field between me and the modem. Taking a deep breath, I carefully inched my way forward like I was playing Twister, juggling my laptop and the nice cable lady on my phone, till I was close enough to actually read the small print next to the indicator lights for her. “OK, I’m there,” I told her. So far so good, I thought to myself. I hadn’t messed up a single pile!
The nice cable lady helped me verify that our wireless network connection was working and quickly surmised that the issue was on her end. She said she was going to re-boot my modem, and I was mesmerized as its lights immediately dimmed, then one by one re-lit and restored my internet connection. I wanted to kiss her and marveled at how she could reach through miles of fiber optic cable, sitting in her cubicle at the cable company, and magically fix my modem. She laughed, and I made another joke about how it was kind of spooky to think about how much power the cable company really has.
“I get that a lot,” the nice cable lady said, and I could tell she was smiling. “I helped a woman last week with the same problem,” she went on, “and told her I needed to re-boot her modem. She wanted to know how long it would take to get technicians there because she had a busy day planned and would need to make arrangements to let them into her house. I explained that wasn’t necessary, that I could re-boot her modem, sitting in my cubicle, just like I’ve done for you.” She then delivered a perfect punch line, telling me, “The woman wondered how I could possibly see what to do, then paused for a moment before she slowly whispered, ‘Can … you … see … what … I’m … wearing?'”
I laughed so hard I almost cried, and told the nice cable lady I appreciated her cheerful service and great sense of humor, before we said our goodbyes. Now my only crisis was the terrible mess I’d made of those 13 piles of papers and books in my wife’s office, in my frantic rush to find masking tape to cover the lens on my laptop webcam.