Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I'm back

Yesterday morning, I suddenly discovered I had no internet access. Then I discovered I had no telephone service. (Yes, I'm one of those few remaining Luddites who doesn't have a cell phone and doesn't want one.)

It turned out that contractors working in the alley had cut my underground phone line. And yes, they knew ahead of time that they were going to cut it. This wasn't an accident. The line was clearly flagged, though that was hardly necessary. When the telephone junction box is on one side of your trench and a house is on the other, you are going to cut the service cable.

I know how it is (I used to work for the electric utility here), and I completely understand it. Avoiding the cable would add a lot of work - hard manual labor with a shovel - to something which would be a lot easier and quicker without it. So why not just make a "mistake" and cut the cable, then let the phone company fix it later?

And this wouldn't have bothered me in the least if they'd warned me first - especially since they weren't planning to have it repaired that same day. But OK, it wasn't such a big deal. They were apparently working on my neighbor's sewer line, and it didn't look like it would affect me much, other than that.

But I went back to check on them in the afternoon and discovered another surprise. They'd dug a trench completely across my driveway, blocking my pickup from leaving the garage. And at 3 PM, they were nowhere around. They'd already left for the day, leaving me without communication and transportation.

I had no idea when they'd be back, or who they were, or anything. They finally showed up again, sometime after 10 AM this morning (bankers' hours, or just a long commute?), but I still don't know who they work for. After asking several times and getting a deliberately mumbled response, I gave up.

Why didn't they tell me what they were planning to do? Why didn't they warn me? Well, it wasn't their problem, was it? And they're private contractors. (You can't get away with something like this when you work for the government.) It hadn't been obvious that they were going to block my driveway. In fact, they'd looked like they were finished digging when I'd seen them that morning.

Oh, well, they're still working out there (working much later today - I hope that's a good sign), but at least they got the phone company to hook me up again. I still don't have a vehicle, but that's just a good excuse to stay home and play computer games, right?

It's supposed to turn colder here, with a 100% chance of snow tonight, so I was going to buy groceries while it was still nice. (One of the many good things about being retired is that you don't have to go anywhere when the weather is bad.) But what can you do? I'm OK, anyway. Given all the food I've got in the house, I certainly won't starve.

But I have to admit that it is good to be connected to the world again. I still don't want a cell phone, though. After all, it's not as though I live in the middle of the wilderness. From what I hear, some people even walk places! But that's just hearsay, and I'm not sure I believe it, myself. :)


Chimeradave said...

I would have given them a piece of my mind. That's for sure. Probably wouldn't have helped the situation though. Keeping your cool will probably help in the long run because they won't deliberately inconvenience you like they might if you'd insulted them.

Gregg Garthright said...

Hope you can get your truck out soon - you wouldn't want to walk anywhere this morning!

It's a good thing it was just the phone line they cut - could have been a buried electrical cable or natural gas line. It's frustrating when they're that irresponsible - it's just a good thing no one was injured.

WCG said...

I wasn't too happy, John, especially after they lied to my face afterwards. But you've got exactly zero leverage in a situation like that.

Luckily, I didn't need to leave, and there wasn't anything time-critical I needed to do online, either (taxes, investments, etc.). It's hard to get too upset over the principle of the thing, not without being a complete jerk about it.

WCG said...

My electric service is overhead from the pole, but it's underground to the pole, and right in the same part of the alley. Luckily (for them and for me), they were careful to avoid that.

And they worked late yesterday afternoon, so now I have a path out of the garage,... sort of. I'd have to back out, all the way to the other end of the city block, on an unimproved alley (my end, at least, is rocked).

Under ordinary circumstances, that would be doable. After six inches of snow,... I'm not sure I'd want to try it, not unless I really needed to get somewhere.

If we get any snow at all, I usually shovel my driveway and the alley, too, to the street. But I don't think I'm quite up to shoveling that much. (And there won't be any traffic down the alley, not with my end blocked.)

But, honestly, I haven't even been out to shovel the walks yet, so I really don't know. And I'm sure they'll want to finish up here as soon as the weather permits. Meanwhile, I can still play computer games. :)