My phone at work rang shortly after 3 p.m. I am blessed with a “spy phone” as my colleagues have dubbed it, better known as a phone with caller ID. It was the mother’s cell.
Though she has a phone identical to mine which I bought for her last Christmas, it does not operate like mine. While it worked fine for the first few months, for the past several it drops a call anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes in. Today marked the first time I’ve had a conversation with her while she’s on it that exceeded the 3-minute mark.
“It’s back,” she announced.
What’s back? I queried.
“The Dead Phone.”
Several times during the past decade or so, phone service at This D*mn House has mysteriously just ceased. No rhyme or reason. No one else affected around us. Just us. It used to occur several times a year. (No one had ever been able to adequately explain the cause.) Then, it became semi-annual. It was down to about once a year. And this time, I think it’s been 16 months or so since it last befell us. But whatever the timing, it’s definitely back.
Many times, it goes away as quickly as it appeared, well before a tech ever reaches the scene.
When our phone service was restored after the storm of July 2006, the phone company put a band tie through the loop that holds the outer door of the outside phone box on the house closed. They’ve repeated this procedure on subsequent visits so the mother couldn’t get it open to try and test the line. I did it as soon as I got home. Dead.
I used my cell to call the phone company’s repair service. Automated.
When cued to enter our phone number, I did so. “Please hold while I retrieve your account records.” Ten seconds or so of silence, then, “I’m sorry. I have no record of that account.”
Funny. It’s been the same phone number for more than 26 years. And you have no problem identifying that account when you cash the check every month …
Miss Automation announces that she will “redirect my call” which is then taken over by Mr. Automation. He asks me to reenter my phone number and has no problem identifying the account. “I have your records,” he declares! I like Mr. Automation – until he gets stupid.
“Does the phone number you are reporting have a dial tone? Press 1 for yes or 2 for no.”
I punch in a 2.
“Are you calling from that phone number? Press 1 for yes or 2 for no.”
Did I not just tell you that the number DOESN’T HAVE A DIAL TONE?! Do I look like Hermione Granger to you?! If that number had a dial tone, I wouldn’t need to be calling you to begin with, now would I? Sheesh…
“Please hold while we check for trouble on that line.”
About 30 seconds of silence and then, “We found no trouble on that line. Here are some things you can try to diagnose the source of the trouble.”
Wait. Didn’t you just tell me there IS no trouble? This is starting to sound like an Abbott & Costello skit.
“If you do not have LineBacker coverage, you may be assessed charges for a service visit,” he drones on.
If you actually have my records as you claim, then you know that I pay each month for that service. So how’s about haulin’ your happy li’l self over here and fix my phone!
“A trouble report has been issued for this number. Your service should be restored by 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct.14. In the unlikely circumstance that your service has not been restored, a credit will automatically be applied to your next bill.”
That was last night. The phone is still dead this morning and I’m jones’in for an Internet fix. (Guessing that roughly 16 hours is about my limit for being unplugged.) We’ve still got roughly half a day before we see if Mr. Automation was telling the truth or not.
The mystery continues...