of an Internet Junkie
spending so much time on the Internet recently that my
wife recently asked if I loved it more then her.
Unfortunately, I was in the middle of downloading jokes
at the time and asked if I could get back to her when I
was done. Needless to say, I didn't complete the
of its lure, at first I was successful in limiting my
time on line. Actually, it wasn't that hard, especially
since I didn't have a computer. But, the minute my mean,
sleek, Internet machine was delivered, all bets were
off. Logging into the Internet for the first time is
like shooting heroin. Once you do it, there's no going
I had no
sooner establish my e-mail account, when a chime
announced the arrival of my first e-mail, a welcome
aboard message from my Internet service provider,
Ads-R-Us. "You may not know it," the e-mail stated, "but
your importance in the world is proportional to the
number of e-mails you receive a day. Let us help you
increase your importance. Just click the 'Always trust
us button' and we'll take care of getting your name out
to world. I clicked yes, and the next day was barraged
with 422 e-mails. Most of them from sites like 'Anna's
House of Midnight Delights' or 'Paul's Passion Pit of
eventually managed to remove my name from most of the
seeder mailing list, albeit only after offering up the
e-mail addresses of five friends per list. Now I
averaged 25 e-mails a day, 90% of which are jokes. I
have to admit I love the ease with which e-mail allows
me to be in touch with old friends, even if it only is
to pass along stale jokes.
holidays, I was looking forward to breaking out of my
e-mail box and doing so real exploring on the Internet.
While my wife was preparing gift lists, I was preparing
a list of must see sites. The day after Thanksgiving,
however, I began to notice that my computer was having
trouble connecting. By early December, it was taking at
least three attempts to log in.
was concerned, I wasn't too worried, after all, the news
had predicted an avalanche of on-line Christmas
shopping, and my Internet provider was giving all
expense paid, month-long, vacations to Tahiti for anyone
who signed up. I figured it was just temporary server
later, however, it was taking five tries to get
connected. A few days later, it was ten. By Christmas, I
was clicking on my e-mail icon so fast that my mouse
would scamper off its pad and hid when it saw me
approach the computer. When I did connect, the speed was
often so slow that snail mail seemed a better
alternative. Soon the server congestion theory began to
three hours of unsuccessful connect attempts, I called
my Internet service provider. "Thank you for calling
Ads-R-Us Internet. If you need help connecting to the
Internet, our customer support page is loaded with
helpful hints. If you're having trouble staying online,
consider upgrading to our 'double ads in half the time'
package. If you want talk to a customer representative,
please go to the customer support page on our web site.
Click on customer support and enter your question. A
real live customer representative will e-mail a response
when they have time. Thank you for choosing Ads-R-Us
dumbfounded listening to the dial tone AND wondering
what had just happened. Eventually I did get through to
a real person at Ads-R-Us, but only after I lied and
said I wanted to sign up for new service. "I'm sorry
Sir, but I only handle new accounts."
know, but can you transfer me to someone who can help me
connected? Have you check out our web site yet? It's
loaded with helpful hints, have you tried it yet?"
if I could, but, since I can't log in, I can't get to
your site to figure out why I can't log in!"
I'm not supposed to transfer anyone until they try
everything on the web site first. Otherwise, we would
waste all our time giving out answers that are already
posted. You understand don't you? Please call back when
you've run through everything on our site, and thanks
for using Add-R-Us Internet. Good-bye."
was obviously getting nowhere, I headed over to a
neighbor to see if I could steal his latest free CD from
some Internet provider. You know, the type you receive
with each package of toilet paper or in specially marked
cereal boxes. I figured if I could log onto the Internet
with another provider, it would at least rule out the
modem as the problem.
just as he was pulling out of the driveway with his
family. "Believe it or not, this time tomorrow I'll be
sitting in Tahiti, soaking up sun and drinking Mai Tai's
'til I can't see straight. All I had to do is sign up
for Internet service with this company called Ads-R-Us.
Every hear of them?"
"Um, yeah. By any chance have you tried using them?"
did a few minutes ago. Got in right away, 56K
connection, they were blazing fast. Well, got to go.
Surf's up! Oh by the way. I understand we're supposed to
get a lot of snow this week. Would you mind shoveling my
walkway why I'm gone?" I found myself wishing him a case
of sunstroke as he pulled away.
that he could log in and I couldn't meant only one
thing. My modem was obviously failing. It was time to
call Fast Talking Computers, the builder of my computer.
Number? What Id Number?"
excuse me, but is it possible to speak to someone who
speaks a little slower?"
"Iamtheslowesttalkerhere. CANYOUUNDERSTANDMENOW" He
it was not going to be my day. So I gave up and just
began to explain my problem.
told me to call you."
seem to understand. I can't get on the net. If I can't
get on the net, how can I log into your site?"
eventually managed to step my way through the process to
remove and re-install the modem, thought it wasn't
right, but I only have one line, so I'll have to call
you back." Unfortunately, the fix didn't work, and,
reluctantly, I once again called Fast Talking Computers.
I thought. "Um, I just called a couple of minutes ago.
Can I talk to whoever just helped me?"
again, I methodically recited my connectivity tale of
did that! That's why I'm calling back! It didn't fix the
again, I found myself listening to a dial tone. In spite
of my better judgment, I once again visited the
add/remove hardware icon and stumbled my way through the
process of removing my modem and then allowing windows
to redetect it, meeting with the same results as the
first try. As did the third, the fourth, and the fifth.
With each failed attempt, the nagging feeling that I
would never again be able to connect to the Internet
grew and grew. Soon it consumed every moment of thought,
and, before long, I was desperate for a solution.
for calling FT Computers, can I help you."
apologies, I was trying to reach Fast talking Computers.
I must have dialed the wrong number. Let me try again."
hang up. This is Fast Talking Computers!"
sure? I can actually understand you!"
you're the twenty-fifth person today to tell me that. I
just started today and I'm on probation 'til I can speak
500 words a minute in proper techno-babble. Anyway, how
can I help you?"
again, I explained the situation.
sir, but I don't know much about modems. Can I have one
of the other technical representatives call you back as
soon as they are free?"
rather not, but I guess I'll have to wait. Do you have
any idea when that will occur?"
be no more than two hours."
later, at 11:15 P.M., my call was returned. After I not
so politely informing them that there were two
Washington's in the country, and that they had just
managed to waste my last Viagra, they quickly agreed to
send me a new modem.
the new modem was fairly easy, after all, I am a nuclear
engineer. Figuring my problem was solved, I confidently
clicked on my e-mail icon and awaited the avalanche of
jokes that had accumulated since I last logged in. But
the new modem proved no more successful in connecting
then the old one. With each unsuccessful login attempt,
I become more and more convinced the problem lay not
with my computer, but with my Internet provider.
for calling Ads-R-Us Internet Corporate headquarters.
Can I help you?"
I talk to someone who knows something about modems
"Modems? I'm sorry sir, but we're an Internet provider.
We don't deal with modems. If you have a modem problem,
please contact your computer manufacture. Have a nice
day." Once again, the line went dead. I went and poured
the first of what would be a long line of drinks.
I got through to someone who knew something about
modems. "Well I'm not sure what to tell you. Our servers
aren't having any problems. Have you logged into your
modem manufacture's web site to see if they have posted
any new drivers? We update our server drivers fairly
frequently so you might be dealing with a driver issue.
If that doesn't work, have you contacted the phone
company yet? You could be dealing with a line issue."
fairly confident that it wasn't a line issue, after all,
the wiring for my old farm house has worked well for 50
years. As for the drivers, that was another story. As
far as I knew, I was still working with the set that
came with my computer. Downing another drink, I called
Fast Talking Computers.
"Hello, Fast Talking Computers. May I help you?"
My god, I
thought, how lucky can I be? I got Fast Talker's slow
talker again! "Yes, I need to get the latest drivers for
latest drivers are posted on our web site. If you give
me your account number, I'll tell you what driver to
download." I was just about to launch into a tirade
about how imbecile it was to tell someone having
difficulty logging in, that the solution could be found
by logging in, when she caught herself. "It seems we
made a mistake. You should have received a CD with the
latest drivers with your new modem. I'm sorry for that
mistake. I'll send them out right away. Better yet,
because it was our mistake, I can send out the newest
modem we just got in today with its drivers. Would that
like an idiot. I had spent hours preparing to do battle,
but instead of giving me a fight, the technician was
bending over backwards to help me. I accepted the new
modem offer. The way I figured it, if I was still having
problems after installing a different type modem,
Ads-R-Us Internet would finally have to 'fess up and
admit they were the problem.
waited the arrival of the new modem, I got the whimsical
idea to listen in on another telephone as modem dialed
into the server. Figuring that if the modem was dialing
out correctly, it would be one more indicator that the
problem was with Ads-R-Us's server. To my surprise, the
modem connected on the first try. The connection speed
was horrible, but for the first time in two weeks, I was
the exercise several times. Every time I had the phone
off the hook, the modem connected. With the phone on the
hook, the modem dialed in vain. Being a good engineer, I
knew I was onto something. After several tries, I once
again managed to reach Ads-R-Us's modem guru. "Wow.
That's a new one on me. Have you checked your line yet?"
should I do that?" I said. "The line has worked well for
50 years, and when I jury-rigged the outlet for the
computer connection, I only had to splice the line six
times." As I hung up, as curable an optimist as I am,
even I had to admit that my defense of the [them? line?]
was bordering on the ludicrous.
day as promised, it [the modem?] arrived, and much to my
chagrin, it too was unable to connect to the Internet. I
sat dumbfounded for what seemed like an eternity.
Slowly, but surely, I began to plot my attack on the
blowing all around me, I peeled back the box covering
the old telephone connection. Debris, dust, and dead
bugs of all shapes and sizes poured out. As I pulled
away the cover, I came face to face with the biggest,
fattest spiders I have ever seen. Based upon the number
of fried bug carcasses at the bottom of the box, this
spider liked his bugs barbecued, and, as far as he was
concerned, the telephone jacks fried them quite well,
evicting the spider and cleaning out the box, I set
about running a dedicated line to my computer jack. In
the process, I also removed nine old derelict telephone
wires whose installation could undoubtedly be traced to
the days of party lines.
As I stood
in front of the fire to warm up, it occurred to me that
a good nuclear engineer would try logging in before he
sealed up the box. To my amazement, the modem connected
on the first ring, and at the best connection rate I
ever had to boot.
and twenty-five minutes later, the downloading of back
e-mails was complete - 622 jokes, 245 ads, 56 Internet
newsletters, and one e-mail from my neighbor in Tahiti,
raving about the warm water, hot sun, cool drinks, and
bikini clad natives. I bundled up and headed out to
shovel snow, cursing the spider all the way.
other humor stories by Michael Hillman
other stories by Michael Hillman