Notes from the Home - December 24, 2012



   Saturday morning, just after four o’clock, as I was doing the LA Times crossword puzzle online, the electricity went out. The problem was, rumor has it, a telephone pole got in the way of a drunk driver. It’s darn dark in the wee hours of a day so close to the winter solstice, but it wasn’t long – fifteen or twenty minutes – before the folks at the electric company had the juice flowing again. My Internet connection, however, had been lost. And so, back to bed.

   At eight o’clock, fortified with grapefruit, shredded wheat and coffee, I went off to Piggly-Wiggly. It was a beautiful morning. The sun bright, the sky clear and windshields covered with frost. It was a glorious day to be out and about. And the morning reminded me of my limitations. It was a morning that said, “Get out of that damn chair, Tom. On your feet, boy, move it, stride out smartly and generate a little body heat.”

    Alas.

   But, it was a morning to enjoy, and I did. And I returned to the apartment with a few groceries and lots of confidence that Mediacom had been on the job, and I would be able to get on the Internet.

   Alas.

   Unable to blast off into cyberspace, I called the computer at Mediacom. I don’t get along well with telephone computers. What we have is a failure to communicate. Able to sense my frustration after being led down several blind alleys, the computer said, “Please give me a few minutes to collect your account information.” I thought it strange that it didn’t ask any questions; it didn’t ask my name, or my address or my account number. But, surely a computer has caller ID, and it was able to match my phone number to my account.

   “Oh, I see,” the computer said. Really, it said, “Oh, I see, there is an emergency in your area, and our technicians are working to restore service.”

   A few minutes later, Johnny, the maintenance man, said he had seen the Mediacom crew at the accident scene on his way to work. So, I waited, ever hopeful that I wouldn’t have to call Mediacom again. I was not rewarded for my patience and eventually called again. This time the computer took me through an entirely different series of frustrations before it announced that it had my account information. When it had reviewed the information, it said there was an emergency in the area and played Mediacom’s announcement to its customers. And with that, the computer was exposed as a fraud. The alleged emergency in my area was severe weather in Iowa.

   And I’m left to ponder: Is the computer’s grasp of geography so weak that it thought Iowa is in the greater Columbus, Georgia, area? Does the computer have so little respect for my intelligence that it doesn’t think I know Iowa is more than a fifteen minute drive from here? Or has the computer evolved into an impudent bureaucrat, willing to say anything in order to get the caller to hang up?

   From the moment I lost the Internet, I’ve worried that the problem might be with my computer. To test it, I took the computer up to the activity room, which has Wi-Fi. I had no trouble getting on line. Don’t try to tell me, Mr. Mediacom, there must be something wrong with my computer.

  

   It is the morning before Christmas, and all through Columbus it’s raining. I don’t know if the weather is to blame for my mood. Maybe I’m having difficulty with the prospect of spending Christmas at the old folks’ home. Chances are the rain is the culprit.

   Five or six years ago, when my legs began acting like uncooperative, smarty-pants teenagers, I noticed they were less ornery when the sun was shining and the sky was clear. I assumed it was some sort of psychological phenomenon. Everyone feels better when the sun is shining and the sky is blue. Well, not everyone. Corrine says she prefers rainy days. But she enjoys being crabby, and dreary days undoubtedly enhance her crabbiness.

   At this time of year, however, old Sol is a slug-a-bed, and nowhere to be seen when I’m ready to face the day. On some winter mornings getting out of bed and getting dressed is easier than on others. The mornings when it is easy, the sun comes up an hour or two later in a cloudless sky. When getting ready to meet the day is more difficult, the sun rises behind the clouds. Which leads me to believe there is a physical element involved. Tomorrow’s weather is supposed to be much the same. But Russ and Karen are coming over, so it will be a great Christmas day regardless of the weather.

  

   Beth called last night and brightened the Christmas season for me. She said she has put all the Christmas cards they’ve received on the door, and Hayden’s favorite is the one I sent him. He goes to the door several times a day and opens the card I sent. This has nothing to do with the guy he sees via Skype once or twice a week. Hayden opens the card because he wants to hear Schroeder play the piano. But it makes his grandpa a very happy man.

  

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