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The other day I told a story about how a Person From Porlock wearing a golf shirt (Apropos to nothing, Google tells me there are five golf courses within twenty-five miles of Porlock. Good to know. I guess.) made me remember a story that I had forgotten. I then used that story to (a) babble aimlessly about ideas and where they come from, thereby boring several a few people to tears and (b) not incidentally, make the PFP (not this one) flee QLAB to the high ground. The joke was on him, though — the neighbor’s house is actually slightly downhill. Or so says the pink phone.

That story wasn’t the only one the PFP (or this one either) made me remember; it was all I needed to make him (nope) make like a tree, though. (I had no idea Porlock was so much better than Schenectady.) So after he (definitely not) left I still had an untold story. Who would I inflict it on tell it to?

Why, you of course.

The other story — the one I told him — was a cautionary tale about how his employer’s technical people weren’t always the earth-bound deities he had been told to tell me they were. Our first visit from one of these paragons wage slaves had proven that.

So, as a matter of fact, did the second. (And the third as it happens.)

Those two visits happened just under a decade later. Ms. Rose and I had decided that we wanted more windows and as a result we had a couple of guys (one of whom habitually wore shorts) come through the door every morning at 7 AM to smash holes in things. When they were creating a room to put the windows in, it became obvious that the telephone lines from the pole in the back yard would have to be moved — instead of coming in through a window on the south wall of the house, they’d have to come in via the east. Simple (dare I say trivial) to understand: move those two (2) wires from there to there. It happened while we were at work. When we came home the wires had been moved, a brand spanking new demarc had been installed and everything worked.


Wrong, actually. It didn’t.

I mean, it was close. (Ish.) One line worked flawlessly. The other, though, didn’t work at all. While .500 is unheard of for a batting average it’s uninspiring for moving two small things a small distance. I think we had seen this inability to count to two before and I wasn’t impressed then. I called The Phone Company.

“Hello? There was a guy at our house today to move two (2) lines. He only moved one of them and disconnected the other one. Nice demarc though. Shiny. Can we get this fixed because, you know, you’re not getting paid until it is.”

They said they’d send someone The Very Next Day. This time I was there waiting for him.

Wonder of wonders, the guy showed up roughly when The Phone Company said he would. Bonus marks for that. He didn’t really understand the problem, though, so I had to explain it to him.

“Hi. We have two phone lines. Well, we’re supposed to have two phone lines but today we only have one. Before yesterday both of them came into the house through that window (imagine me pointing) but because the guy in shorts (pointing again) is going to be building a wall (and again) that won’t work anymore so they (points at the wires) have to move to there (points at other window). The guy yesterday moved both wires but didn’t connect one of them. Since we’re paying for two phone lines we’d kind of like to have both of them.”

He didn’t look happy so I tried again.

And again.

And again. Clearly my strengths do not extend to clarity of exposition.

Eventually, though, he seemed to get it and went to work. It took him a good long while but it seemed (so he said) that what the guy the day before had done was move both wires but then cut one of them at the pole. What he was doing up the pole in the first place I couldn’t begin to guess. But the real question was could this guy fix it?

“Piece of cake.”

He went to work. After twenty or so minutes, multiple trips up the pole and several expeditions to his van, he said he was making progress. But then one of our neighbors came out of her house. Apparently her phone had just stopped working.

I bit back a snide remark about the definition of  ‘progress’ while he looked even unhappier and fled back up his pole. After another ten minutes or so the neighbor confirmed that her phone worked again, which meant that we were back to, not square one exactly, but at least an earlier square, one where the neighbors all had phone service even though we didn’t.

He still didn’t look happy (that seems to happen around me a lot) as he carried his ladder down the street and climbed a pole several lots over. (“That’s odd” said the guy in shorts “the first guy didn’t do that.”) He spent a long time up that pole then came back and climbed up ‘our’ pole again. When he came down he actually looked, if not happy, then a little optimistic.

“I think I’ve reconnected the cut wire. Now all I have to do is run it into the demarc and connect the demarc to your house wiring and it’s done.”

Sounded simple enough but after he spent time frowning owlishly at the grey box on the side of the house and at the wiring in the basement, he was back to looking unhappy.

“Is there a problem?”

“The other guy didn’t wire the demarc properly and I don’t have the hardware to fix it.”


“How long would it take to get the right parts?”

“I’m at the end of my shift so I can’t get it and come back because that would involve overtime and they wouldn’t approve it. Sending someone else would take an absolute minimum of a day. Probably longer.”

Oh again.

“Couldn’t you, you know, wire it straight into the house like it was before all this nonsense started?”

“I’m not supposed to do that. All homes that aren’t demarced are supposed to have one installed.”

“But we have one installed. It’s even being used. Does the rule say that you have to wire all lines through it?”

“I’m not sure what the exact wording is…”

“I won’t tell anyone.” (I guess the fact that I’m telling you now means I lied. In my defense, it was fifteen years ago and we no longer have a line from The Phone Company anyway.)

He wavered. You could tell he just wanted to leave. “Pleeze?”

He gave in, presumably so he could label the job ‘finished.’ He wired it straight into the house, bypassing the grey box entirely. He had the hardware for that.

And you know what? It worked.

So. The expert tech support moved two wires twenty feet. It took two guys almost two hours spread out over two days. They climbed two poles, disconnected two lines (and probably would have stressed out at least two bean counters if anyone had been foolish enough to tell them).

If my person from Porlock comes back, I’ll have to tell him that
story. I bet he wouldn’t appreciate it though.


The Author

Rose Glace is the pseudonym of nobody important.

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