Welcome to the day before Christmas, with some snow showers (possibly mixed with freezing rain) and temps not getting too far above freezing today...great day to get those last minute items, hmm?
I want to tell a story today...not EXACTLY a Christmas Story, but a story that reminds me of a Clark Griswold Christmas, rather than a Red Ryder BB rifle one.
There was a time when I had to bear Christmas without my Father, who passed in February of 1978, and that was about as bad as it could get. Mom and I did our best to suffer through it, but somehow, part of the magic seemed to be missing.
Then, there came the time that my Nana (Mom's mother) took ill and passed early after Christmas 1992...again, not a way to spend the holidays.
Mom passed away in June of 1998, twenty years after Dad left us, and not being able to hear her voice on the phone at Christmas took it's toll as well.
In 2005, my dear friend Hank, that I knew from my halcyon high school days, and who I considered my left hand in life passed away.
Most recently, our Aunt Wanda and Uncle Leo in Portland passed a couple years ago.
All of this adds up over time, and yet, you TRY to put on that bold face and make the holiday time as best you can.
But then, something ELSE comes along, stripping whatever vestige of Christmas you had away...
And the worst thing about it...it's BY DESIGN.
Now, this hasn't a thing to do about ME...or the MISSUS...it has to do with TECHNOLOGY...
-- This past Saturday, as is our schedule, we headed out to the grocery (and other places) for Christmas shopping.
The grocery went well, and we wished those at Scotts in Waynedale a Merry Christmas.
You could feel the good tidings welling up...that's a good sign (for me).
It's not that I've forgotten those bad years past...I'm remembering them with fondness, and participating as those that have passed would have me do if they were still here.
So, we venture to the BIG LOTS at Southgate Plaza, and it was there that I knew this Christmas would NOT be typical...
The store was NOT THERE any longer.
It was replaced by a larger Salvation Army center.
Big Lots was GONE...
Not that big a deal, I suppose....even went to Walgreens, got some items THERE instead, and then headed home.
Pulled up to the garage door, tapped the remote...and...nothing.
Again...tapped the remote...STILL nothing.
(this is fast becoming a "WTF???" moment)
I can always bypass the opener and manually raise the door, but I have to hop the fence, unlock the garage and then disengage the opener mechanism.
But first, let's take a look inside the HOUSE...and expect the worst.
I jumped the fence (felt like a kid again) and went to the back door.
No, I didn't have to shoot an intruder (lucky for them), but the house POWER WAS OFF.
Now, we made it through this past storm that left THOUSANDS without power in OTHER places around the city...we didn't have any issues there...so WHY NOW, after the storm's gone, and things are back to normal, weather wise?
We also have perishable groceries, and this is NOT the time to have an outage.
-- Well, we call the outage in, and after four LONG hours watching the thermostats in the house dropping degree by degree, the power FINALLY comes back on around 1240 hours.
The funny thing about this, the power went OUT around 0820 hrs, according to our electrical wall clock (that never lies)...less than TEN MINUTES after we left.
And another thing, NONE of Southgate was without power, nor was the tobacco store on Lafayette. It was just "OUR" immediate area...how curious.
So, while the getting was good, we took our HUGE bags of dog and cat food to the Allen County SPCA (a tradition we've come to do every year at this time)...got to "visit" some of the pets they have there...and if I could, I'd take them all home (Bobby G. - Animal Advocate...lol)
That was nice and I came out of there with a big smile on my face, too.
-- But wait, it gets SO much f$cking better...and no good deed EVER goes unpunished...right?
About 1445 hours (slightly over an hour after the power came back on), the FIOS goes out...completely.
For us, that means:
NO cable TV
NO land-line phones
In essence, we've become deaf, dumb, AND blind.
So, Wifey gets on her cell phone and calls Frontier (who went onto MY naughty list with great dispatch) and THEY tell us THEY had an "outage", and that they're on GENERATORS. But the city power had been RESTORED, or so we've been told through media sources...so what gives?
After several hours, Wifey calls back, and NOW they tell us that we might be WITHOUT SERVICE until WEDNESDAY...(maybe).
((STRIKE THREE - YOU'RE OUT!))
So there we sat, with absolutely NO way of communicating OTHER than cell phones, which bothered me to no small end.
No way to access the Internet unless we truck out to the LIBRARY (shakes head in disgust).
I didn't even know until recently that our LAND-LINE phone was also on this FIOS crap...that sucks, because if you lose ONE...you lose it all.
So, we wouldn't get to watch ALL those wonderful Christmas movies and specials...how nice was is.
Truth be told, whatever Christmas Spirit I HAD faded rapidly, and showed little hope of returning THIS year.
At that point, I didn't even want to wrap ANY gifts, cook ANY dinner, or spend ANY time celebrating...and if anyone wished me a "Merry Christmas" , they might get a free knuckle-sandwich from me...just because of how damn PISSED I was at all this.
Now...you HAVE to realize that the powers that be PLAN things this way...bundling ALL these technologies TOGETHER...in the name of PROGRESS.
When I was a child, we NEVER had such issues.
You pick up the phone...there was that DIAL TONE.
You wanted to watch a Christmas special..turn on the TV...and there it was...for FREE (because those marvelous ANALOG signals on the airwaves were for EVERYONE)...and we had no Internet...we just visited people...or CALLED THEM UP.
Can't do ANY of that these days without provision...can we?
Add to this (what? There's MORE you say?) the distinct possibility of a GOOD winter storm that "could" drop more than a few inches here (Ft. Wayne), which will most certainly affect REPAIRS to frontier's stuff, and we could be without ALL these "amenities" for a week..or longer.
Sorry, that dog ain't gonna hunt for me...EVER.
Wouldn't be a problem...IF you didn't become so damn dependent upon ALL this technology, right?
Always seems to work out that way these days.
But, they WANT you dependent...another manner of CONTROL.
Thing is, they don't stop to think how PISSED OFF we become when we do get to have WHAT WE PAY FOR...right?
Cripes, I felt as though I was running the movie SCROOGE in REVERSE...with yours truly in the title role.
I went from HAVING Christmas spirit to having little if any.
Yes, the loses we suffer through life NEVER go away, and they DO become cumulative in nature.
I said to keep "standing on Frontier's neck" to see if they can get our service back before Wednesday (when the bigger snow storm is due to hit us), because neither she nor I wanted to NOT KNOW the conditions we could expect...or the progress of the storm.
We didn't want to have to rely solely on a hand-crank survival radio...
Well, around 1330 hrs, SHE gets a call on her cell phone (which when not in use was on the charger...it was a busy time for battery-driven devices), and it's a TECHNICIAN from Frontier...and he's EN ROUTE to our humble "Fortress".
(you're kidding me, right?)
No, he wasn't...and within 10 minutes, he was backing into our driveway.
(hope is springing eternal again)
The technician was an older black gentleman, perhaps a decade or so younger than myself...name of ALEX.
(Having been a technician, we immediately found our common ground)
He was polite, had a nice voice...none of the brashness or stentorian demeanor you often find with many who provide service.
(Ever hear a bunch of LEOs at a bar after shift? - talk about LOUD...LOL)
Being loud can be a JOB PREREQUISITE...trust me.
Anyway, Alex checks our FIOS box OUTSIDE, and no lights are on, so the problem is INSIDE the house.
I lead him downstairs to the OTHER box, where it was apparently deader than Jacob Marley...or the proverbial doornail.
He swaps out the box, replaces the battery backup, and in no time..we're good to go.
We have cable again, the Internet is accessible, AND (most importantly) we have PHONES again.
(we're still thinking about having them put those back on copper...just in case, but that's another tale for another time)
What I took away from this was that there are still companies that DO value customer service (and can be prompted whenever you threaten to take your service elsewhere).
And yes, there are STILL (Christmas) ANGELS, too.
In troubled times, even at the holidays, we get that visit from "Clarence"...or in my case, his name was ALEX.
This man, in many ways reminded me of myself...the part of me that WASN'T pissed off at a bad situation, or the person that was NOT looking at a bleak Christmas, but rather the person who used to always be able to allay people's doubts and then get the job DONE.
And it was then I remembered such times in my past when I was in Alex's work boots, figuratively-speaking.
Yeah, God...lesson learned here.
Was this a miracle?...depends on how your beliefs fall.
No one ever said there was a "one size fits all" aspect to miracles...they, like us, come in ALL shapes, sizes and colors.
For a company to go from telling us we MIGHT be able to have a technician on Wednesday to having one come out on SUNDAY (on his day off, as he mentioned to me...he WANTED the take the jobs...dunno why) says something to me about the company...AND the technician.
So, after Alex was finished, I handed his a nice bag of freshly made chocolate chip cookies (we do that at Christmas...it's tradition).
He thanked me much, to which I replied..."No...thank YOU, sir."
We shot the breeze for a bit before he left, and it WAS like talking to a slightly younger version of myself.