1. A Tale of Two Techies

1. We'd been encountering difficulties with our home network, our connection in particular, and we phoned for someone to come in and look at it. I was out of the house when the first techie arrived, on Friday, but arrived soon after.

We learned that the wire in the basement had been cut, likely some time ago. My wife suggested that the people who run our alarm system may have done something like that when they investigated a problem back in October of last year. They mentioned they might reroute some things—they did not specifically mention cutting the wire.

Of course, we've been getting internet access since then, and had it last week, with interruptions. I’d last logged on that very morning, and could easily verify this fact, with such things as upgraded virus definitions and so forth. A file I downloaded that morning, coincidentally. An upgrade the day before to Quicktime. These things I could have showed him.

The tech guy told us we were lying. He accused us of "not working with him" and "trying to make him look stupid."

"We had the internet this morning."

"You couldn't have. You couldn't have had it for months." His face wore an angry, knowing look. He didn't know what we were trying to pull, but we obviously were trying to sell him something, and he wasn't buying.

Now, I don't like to tell other people their jobs, but in this case, it seems to me, even if you suspect a client is lying, you don't accuse them. You maybe mention it to your superior. An even better approach would be to assume, for the time being, that they're telling the truth, and try to use the facts as they report them to arrive at a conclusion regarding the problem you've been called to fix.

He used his laptop to access company records and learn when we'd last logged in. This led to an abrupt shift in his attitude as, in a strange development, he discovered we had been accessing the internet that very week. Another piece of advice: if you have a method of checking whether the client is lying, maybe employ it before you make accusations.

By then, we didn't want him working on the case, and he was muttering something about four other jobs he had to complete that day, as though this somehow was our problem. He gave us a note with (supposedly) his personal number. We could call him directly after the alarm company (at this point, only a suspect in The Evil Plot to Make an Obscure, Hard-Working Technical Support Worker Look Stupid) had cleaned up their mess, whatever it was.

We called and asked them to send someone else.

The second worker arrived early Saturday morning. Pleasant-seeming young guy, in a heavy metal t. By then, my wife and I had discussed the situation and realized, obviously, that there must be another line into the house. The easiest rerouting work, after (let's say) the alarm people cut the connection would have been to reroute it through the original, older access point, at the back of our house. Obviously, the alarm people, if they messed with our connections, wouldn't have left us without internet service.

New guy found the connection, yep, at the old access point, and fixed it in about five minutes. Then he waited while my wife confirmed that everything was okay with the alarm system. Tech guy and I discussed the Olympics, Canada's close loss that morning in women's basketball. Local girl on the team. Yep. Shame. Hope they do better against the Brits Monday. He left, another job awaiting him in a nearby small town.

2. The Province's Smallest Library

The second tech guy corrected our problem so quickly that we didn't have to miss the centennial of the Glanworth Library.

No, it isn't Canada's smallest. Another library, in PEI, holds that title. Glanworth's, nestled in a tiny house that desperately requires a paint job, has one large room and no bathroom—that's been on the wish list for a century. It has one computer, a dial-up. It's on a system with its larger neighbour to the north, so a much wider range of books can be ordered than one finds displayed on the shelves. It's open a few hours a day, two days a week.

Last year, the powers-that-be marked it for closing. The small community rallied, people raised money, and the shoebox library triumphed. Communities need community institutions, and we've already destroyed so many rural schools in the name of economic necessity. This place is not expensive, even in these admittedly austere time. It likely does much good, as a place local kids and adults can access without a lengthy drive.

We drove south a half hour or so to join a considerable crowd. We had to park by a cornfield and walk back in, joining the sidewalk where it started. A black 1956 Chevy Belair parked in a driveway. Behind the row of houses towered a barn and silos. We joined the crowd in time to do the quick tour (only a few people can be inside the library at any one time), meet the librarian who ran the place from 196something to 1980, or thereabouts-- a smiling gray-haired woman with some kind of breathing apparatus-- and enjoy some baked goods and lemonade.

The first speech I wish I had recorded. The heavy, jovial man joked about the crowd, locals and people who had once lived there, and the attendant parking situation which forced him to walk all the way from the other side of "downtown Glanworth" (laughter, groans), which, he then remarked, was something most would agree was good for his health anyway. He then launched into a speech that could only be given in a small community. We were suddenly extras in Our Town or an adaptation of Spoon River Anthology.

More short speeches followed. They introduced the girl who was ahead in the summer reading competition. The band resumed, fiddle and banjo and electric.

I don't know how much longer their little building will last. These are economically challenging times. Then again, the economy wasn't doing so well in the 1930s, and there was a lot of general sacrifice in the 1940s, and the little building welcomed library patrons then.

We made our donation and returned to the highway.


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