Personal electromagnetism … came close to winning

For donkey’s years, all three of my sons (especially the one with the electrical engineering degree; the mechanical ones aren’t as certain) have declared that I have a negatively charged (I think) Personal Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) that destroys, or at least causes to malfunction, any technology within a 10′ radius of me.

Srsly. I can walk past the TV aisle; the screens flicker or there’s an outage. Some watches with batteries I can’t wear; the batteries croak overnight. Gods help me when I try to Do Something Essential on websites, because the PEMF will cut them right off the Interwebz.

So yesterday, fairly late, I got an email from my realtor listing all the things I had to do–TODAY–because closing tomorrow. Things like arrange for a wire transfer for money, transfer utilities into my name, set up an Internet provider… you know. Low-tech stuff. Stuff that doesn’t require positive PEMF.

Yes, that high-pitched howling you hear in the background is my super-sarcastic version of hollow laughter.

We started off OK. Transfering (yes, spellchecker, it’s one “r” in the U.S., now get lost) the electricity went smoothly. Setting up the wire transfer went OK, but I was dealing with actual people at my actual bank, so that’s not much of a test.

Then I broke NM Gas’s website–which didn’t appear to have a sign-up option anyway–and the poor people I had to talk to had no more clue than I how to get around that. “You really did,” one of them said in wondrous tones. “You really did break it!”

Eventually we solved that one. Then came the dreaded one: CenturyLink, to set up a modem delivery for DSL. CL has systematically eliminated people and customer service functions over the last couple of years so that there’s now no chat function on the site, if something goes a tiny bit wrong (which of course it did) you can’t sign up for Internet on the site, and all the heavens in all the cultures help you if you have to call in, because the queue to get to an actual person burns cell minutes the way those flare pipes at gas plants burn off waste gas. (CL’s own menu says, “If at any time you’d like to speak to a representative, say ‘representative,'” but if you say that word, the recording merely says (every time you say the r-word), “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that. Let’s try again.”

As expected, I got sent to three or four different departments, just to get someone to send me a modem. I couldn’t get anyone to explain to me why I’d have to pay the full monthly price for 100Mbps when their own system said the best I could get was 60. By my math, I should only be billed about $30 a month.

None of these people seemed to have even a wee cluelet.

“You want to get a DSL modem?” said one. “Hmm. Let me see.” (long wait) “It looks like I’ll have to transfer you to mmblemble.”

“Oh, I see you had an account with us for… wow, that’s a really long time. That’s longer than I am old,” said Mmblemble.

Eventually, somehow, I wound up talking to tech support–for what was essentially a sales call–but whatever. The woman got me scheduled and fixed up, squared everything away, and promised that the methodology had changed so much that all I had to do was plug in the modem, click a couple of phone buttons, and voila! I’d be off and surfing.

Yeah, well. Not. Just the mention of “phone buttons” gave me the PEMF Dreads.

Not counting the two hours plus I spent on the phone getting service lined up, I spent another three-point-five a few days later trying to follow their instructions to get the super-easy modem to set up. Come to find out the “super-easy” secret was that you had to download their app, which was supposed to do the installing. But there was so little signal that it wouldn’t download to my phone. Eventually, I gave up and came “home” to D’s house and downloaded it here.

She went back with me next day because her phone gets better service there. I didn’t waste any PEMF on buttons and apps this time; we just called the service people, where an exceedingly polite but so heavily accented young woman as to surpass understandability tried very hard to talk me through the process. We went through it four or five times before she gave in and said, “Let’s do a hard reset. Do you have a paper clip or a pin?”

“Um, probably not, since I’m moving,” I responded. D and I gave each other the deer-in-the-headlights stare for a little while; then I remembered that a quilting safety pin was in my hoodie pocket (yes, for a purpose: If I was out working on the Cliff of Doom, I pinned my phone inside the pocket so it wouldn’t fly out when I went rolling downhill).

“Oh, wait! Lemme see if this will fit!” It did!

We did a hard reset, and some other stuff, and eventually it worked. You could tell she was getting really frustrated by then, though. I wanted to say, “You think this is frustrating? Try living your entire life this way!” But I didn’t. There went this month’s supply of tact. Maybe next month’s, too.

When we came home that afternoon, I remembered to bring the laptop with me (never a guarantee that will happen) but left the power cord behind, so it died on me at an early hour, forcing extra knitting time and the watching of “Midsomer Murders,” which is an oddly comforting show given that the region must have the highest homicide rate in two universes.

As Miss Scarlett said, tomorrow is another day. Sufficient unto this one were the evils thereof.

Posted by wordsmith

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