Operator, give me information.
Information, give me long distance.
Long distance, give me Heaven.
—Lyrics by Reggie Calloway
I’m on the hook this summer to score a piece of some of that World Wide Web that’s been going around for a while. It is high time to get this nearly century old log cabin onto the Information Superhighway. So, I called up the local phone company and it went something like this: “One ringy dingy… two ringy dingy.”
A Song of Hiawatha Telephone operator answered, “You have reached the party to whom you are speaking with.” I said I wanted to get some phone service and was told, “Here at the phone company, we handle 840 billion calls a year, everything from kings, queens, and presidents to the scum of the earth. So then, how may I, in all humble servitude, be of assistance?” I explained that we wanted to get the Internet and explained that I would take their DSL service, at least until a fiber line could be run to our cabin. I asked when could they make that happen? Ernestine Longfellow, the telephone operator then told me, “You’re dealing with the phone company, buddy. We are not bound by city, state, or federal regulations. We are omnipotent.”
I explained that we already had a phone line from before. To which she replied, “You are not dealing with just anyone’s fool. I am a high-school graduate.” I was getting a little hot under the collar by then and threatened to hang-up, but was told, “Don’t hang up. Don’t Hang up! You’ve angered me too, and when you anger me, you anger the entire phone company and all the power necessary to tie up your phone lines for the next fifty years. Do I make myself clear?” I meekly acceded to her demand. In the end, she told me that they would send a highly trained technician out to inspect our “old and probably worthless” phone line. If it somehow still meets their minimum standards, then they would grant us some DSL. Still not having learned my lesson, I asked her when would this be? She told me, when we are good and ready and not a moment before.
Edging even closer to the precipice once again, I asked her about fiber. She said that they were currently installing fiber for their already existing customers and that I would be placed at the very bottom of a very long wait list, after all of those other customers had been helped. I explained that our next-door-neighbor is scheduled to get fiber soon and I thought that since they would be out near us, it might be convenient for them to also do our cabin? She explained that they don’t even have enough equipment to connect half of the customers that they are already on the hook for. She then said, “We will get to you at some time, but not very soon. How about never? Does never work for you? Because it certainly works for us.” I didn’t have a prayer.