These things happen. You wake up one morning. All is apparently well with your world. You have breakfast, send the wife off to work, and then with no warning whatever you realize something is terribly wrong.
This morning, it was when I repaired to the den to commence work and noticed the little red LED light flashing on and off. With two desktop computers, a laptop, Tivo, and a VoIP phone system, the occasional flashing light from a myriad technological gizmos necessary for any state-of-the-art home network these days, is nothing to get concerned about.
But this one seemed somehow different. It blinked balefully and somewhat mournfully, like you’d expect an LED to behave if it had suddenly been issued with the unenviable task of announcing the end of the world.
Undaunted, I was certain it was just needed power-cycling. These things happen. There’d been a thunderstorm in the night. Probably, the electric had died momentarily, triggering this problem. I unplugged the gizmos, waited the necessary half-minute, then carefully re-inserted each power cord into its correct orifice. Slowly, the gizmos woke up, looked about them, and began settling to their steady rhythm of yellow-green LED chatter, just as normal. Until, the one turned from yellow to bright red and began its doleful, doom-laden blink once more.
It was the gizmo for the VoIP phone, so I picked up the handset and listened. All seemed well. The comforting burr of the dial tone gently assailed my eardrum. I dialed my wife’s work number. An answering machine picked up the call, as I expected. It was too early for the telephonists to be at their desks. I replaced the receiver. The little red LED still blinked unremittingly back at me.
Now, I’m the sort of person who needs conformity. If something is doing what it shouldn’t, even though all seems well, I have to find out why. Some people can happily drive their cars halfway around the world with the “Check Engine Light” glaring at them out the dashboard. Not I. It’s into the curb and call for a tow-truck if there is so much as a flicker.
Consequently, two seconds later found me punching out the number of the phone company’s twenty-four hour customer service desk. It wasn’t the first time. I was on familiar terms with some of the staff. As soon as I’d give them my phone number, the response invariably came back:
“Oh, it’s RJ, I thought I recognized that British accent.”
On this occasion, however, no cheery voice returned my greeting. In fact, I never got chance to offer a greeting. An answering machine, in that tone of voice indicative of someone in a desperate hurry to escape the office, stated briefly, and hurriedly:
“We are not taking any customer service calls at this time. Goodbye.”
A momentary picture flashed through my mind – the radio-operator on the Titanic, last to leave the ship, sending his final desperate SOS before dashing to the rail and plunging into icy seas, just seconds before the liner slid forever beneath the waters of the North Atlantic.
Three attempts later, I gave up on trying to beat that mercurial answering message. Something was very wrong.
Readers of Sparrow Chat from its Blogger days, may well recollect – about twelve months ago – how enthusiastically I ranted about my new VoIP phone service. An up and coming company offering great value, fantastic service, free gizmo, and the promise of more technological delights for its customers as they grew in business stature.
That company was SunRocket.
Today, after checking out SunRocket on the internet to discover why its customer support service was down, I found out SunRocket is also down, for good. Belly up. Bankrupt.
And then it struck me. Only last week I’d paid them another $200 year’s subscription. Darn it, I’d get that back! I paid with a credit card. Reaching for the phone, I dialed the card company’s helpline.
What’s up, here? Why isn’t it ringing? Don’t tell me they’re bankrupt as well! Damn it, there’s no dial tone!
Perplexed, I glanced up at the VoIP gizmo. For a moment all seemed fine. Then, as I watched, the little red LED light blinked very rapidly five or six times, like a dying man struggling for one final desperate breath of life, and, as I stared, it finally went out for good.
Filed under: And some you lose