Coffee heat rising

What happens when a live Qwest guy shows up

How many weeks are we into the ongoing Qwest DSL drama? I’ve lost track. Finally, yesterday Qworst sent a living DSL technician. John alarmed at first sight: tall, dark, and dreadlocked. On second glance, it became clear that John actually is tall, dark, and handsome, with a quiet and gentle demeanor that quickly charms the stranger. He is, I recognized, one of those rare men who can be called “sweet” without insult.

He also has an intellect, the first I’ve encountered since the DSL puzzlement began. He, too, was puzzled: why did Qworst Call Center Dude #3, the Josh, send him out with a new $100 modem, which indeed was identical to the modem I had been sent for free by Qworst’s Philippines subcontractors and been told by #3 to return. More puzzling: there was no reason to replace the existing modem, which works just fine.

After some experimentation, John concluded the problem was not in the modem but in the phone line. He set out to discover what was going on. He climbed around the yard for a while, but eventually tracked the matter into the garage. While he was outside, I started to hear an irritating little “beep” repeating about every three seconds—probably, I thought, his equipment at work.

Pretty quick he resurfaced.

“Hear that alarm?” he said.

“Alarm? You mean the beeping?”

“Yeah.”

“I thought that was your gear.”

“No. That’s your burglar alarm. Something’s wrong with it.”

The burglar alarm system has been turned off for a good year. After it became clear that the Perp was not going to commit all the mayhem my lawyers predicted he would, I discontinued the monthly subscription.

When I tried to mess with the control panel to see if I could turn it off, I felt something like an electric shock. He said, “That’s odd.” On further investigation, he announced the sensation wasn’t electricity: it waswater! The burglar alarm is mounted to the wall next to the water heater. Some part of the copper spaghetti above the water heater (lines to the swamp cooler; lines to the refrigerator; lines to parts unknown) had sprung a tiny leak, and it was spraying a fine, invisible mist. Lo! On the concrete floor below the burglar alarm panel, what should we see but a little puddle developing.

Dang. He now climbed up to the main panel and disconnected the burglar alarm system. This did nothing to stop the Chinese-water-torture beeping. We called the burglar alarm company: no answer, midafternoon on a business day. We punched buttons. Nothing. But—no cops; that’s good. Finally, he took out his wire cutters, pulled open the cover, and cut a fine fat white wire.

That stopped the alarm. Amazingly, it did not stop the telephone service, as friends have told me messing with a hardwired burglar alarm will do.

Then he said—get this!—”I don’t understand why they ordered this modem. You don’t need it. You don’t need any of this. I’m canceling this service call.”

So, I got the DSL fixed and the burglar alarm shut off just as it was starting to register its dismay at being sprayed by the defective plumbing: free of charge.

Such are the glories of having a live human being respond to a service call.

Along about 8:00 p.m., another live human being—the Plumber Extraordinaire—showed up to figure out where the water was coming from. Over the phone, he’d already coached me on how to make it stop, a maneuver that entailed shutting off the hot water to the house. In 100 degree heat, you don’t need a whole lotta hot water, anyway.

He replaced the two-year-old flex line, one of the many benefits of globalization we Americans now enjoy. Annoyed, he showed me a brand-new flex line that he had been about to install at another customer’s house: it sported a two-inch-long split. Then he handed me a bill for $75. I was glad to pay it for his long after-hours time.

Customer service personnel outsourced half-a-globe away. Plumbing supplies that break before you can install them. Think of it. Let those who question whether globalization equals the Third-Worldization of America think of it.