Monday, February 11, 2008

When it snows, it freezes

Boy, and I thought last week started off on a sour note. After things were taken care of with my rental car Saturday morning (I'm now driving a rented PT Cruiser, which I absolutely cannot stand), I settled in for a relatively productive weekend. I tore apart and remodeled my workshop, Took the kids to Build-A-Bear for an Adventure Princess outing (that's a future post), and built a to-scale model of the ancient Hebrew Temple for my daughter's Sunday school class (okay, that sounds more impressive than it actually was really a paper cutout kit, the whole insert-tab-a-into-slot-b thing...). So the weekend went fine. But Monday was a different story.

We awoke to a frozen hot water pipe in the bathroom. This isn't the first time it's happened, and I blame the architect (my dad) because it's convenient. Actually, I'm the one who pushed for the idea of pushing out the wall of the new bathroom to make more room, so the water pipes are exposed to the elements. See "bump-out that looks like the side of an RV next to the ladder in teh pic below? That's the bathroom sink. And the pipes run through the floor of the thing, making it awfully tough to insulate properly.

After about three hours of space heaters, hair dryers, and thermostats set to 90, we got things going again...just in time for the clothes washer to crap out. Actually, it's the washer's own fault. It tried to escape. During the spin cycle, it decided to jump across the room towards the garage door with such gusto that a rather important plastic piece snapped off. I had essentially three Sears Repair to get a replacement plastic piece, go shopping for a new washer, or call my coworker who told me he had a washer in his garage he was looking to get rid of.

I went for option #3.

This actually turned out to be a good option. It just so happened he was getting rid of a newer, cleaner version of our crappy old Kenmore, so it was simply a matter of disconnecting three hoses and reconnecting them to the new one (well, that and getting it in and out of the van, which wasn't too big a chore). Unfortunately, once connected, I tried a test load and discovered those three connections weren't quite water tight. Well, a trip to Home Depot tomorrow morning for some fresh hoses will solve that problem.

So by the time I was done with the day's events, it was eight o'clock in the evening. I sat down to the computer to discover that our internet was down. After doing the usual unplugging of stuff, I found it wasn't our problem, but Comcast's. So, I attempted to call Comcast Customer Support. I pulled out my Blackberry to make the call (our home phones are VOIP, so they're down too), and discovered that My Blackberry service (Cingular) was down as well. Well, that was odd, I thought. Someone snap another undersea cable? Terrorists taking over the grid?

I locate my wife's cell (also Cingular) and successfully called 1-800-COMCAST. That's when I learned that the number for Comcast is actually an "888" number, not "800". Dial the 800 number, and you'll get a sex line. Interesting, but not gonna solve my problem at this time, especially with the wife and kids still home.

After dialing the correct number I got the automated voice recognition at Comcast. I follow a couple of prompts to get to the point where I say, "I'm having trouble connecting to the internet". The computer voice then asks me, "Do you have a red button on your computer that says, "Install Downloads?" To which I responded, "What the fuck, are you kidding me? Is this a physical button on my CPU, an icon on my desktop, or a kay on my keyboard?? Specify, you automated wanker, and by the way I'm on a Mac!" Well, obviously realizing I was a being of greater intelligence than itself, the automated voice said it would put me on hold for the next available humanoid, but suggested that I could get faster service by going to and clicking on Support. I'm sure, at this point, all you fine readers realize the error of Comcast's ways here...I don't need to point out again that my internet is down, do I?

So I continued to wait for about two minutes. The computer voice then told me that "we are currently experiencing higher than normal call volumes, and cannot connect you with a support representative at this time. Please try your call again later. Goodbye." Then it hung up on me.

There is nothing that pisses me more completely off than a computer that says goodbye and hangs up on me. Word of advice...if you manage a customer service team and have an automated phone system, do NOT allow it to hang up on a customer. EVER.

Okay, giving Comcast the benefit of the doubt, I can understand why they would let this happen if in fact Armageddon is upon us, and the terrorists have shut down the 'Net. But you could at least let me hold for a little longer than two minutes before hanging up on me! And leave a notice on the phone system that says something like, "all our representatives are currently hiding under their desks while the bombs pass over our heads. Save yourselves while you still can!". Jeez. Where's my duct tape and my emergency wind up radio? C'mon kids, to the bomb shelter.

Good news is that about two paragraphs ago, the phones rang. That means that the internet connection is back up. Oddly, my Blackberry started working at the same time, which makes no sense. But at least I can post this to the blog instead of saving it in Notepad.

What an odd day.

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