When our internet craps out, I stare blankly at my computer, then yell for one of the boys. It is their job to get it fixed. This happens too often, but internet providers are the one area in life where nobody you know says, “you have use the company I do! They’re awesome!” None of them are awesome. We spend hundreds of dollars for invisible things that work the way I do: sporadically.
We have computers all over the house and a connection that allows them all work from one source. The upside of this is when one goes out, they all go out. If nobody is listening to me call them for dinner, I simply unhook something in the back, and they all come running to the kitchen to report that the internet is out. I smile innocently and slap the pork chops on the table.
When the problem is bigger than me unplugging and replugging something, I hand the phone to one of the boys to make the call. They hate doing it to, but we all know at some point in that conversation the technician on the other end is going to use a term I don’t understand. If I talk to the technician, there will be tears and swearing, and I won’t be very happy either.
When Christopher, 21, bought me an iPad last year, the boys had to patiently explain to me how the magic of the internet could make the device work when it wasn’t even hooked up to anything.
“We have a wireless network; you don’t need wires for your iPad to work, or your cell phone,” said Ari, 18.
“But my computer has to be plugged in to work. And wait! My iPad works in hotels and airports! How does it know?”
“Mom, it’s wireless. The signal is there, and your devices recognize the signal and ask to log on. If you have the password, you’ll be allowed onto the network.”
“So, it’s like fly around internet?” I asked.
“What? ‘Fly around internet’? Are you nuts?” asked Ari. He exchanged glances with Christopher, who just solemnly nodded.
“Okay, yeah, just like that. Fly around internet,” said Ari, resigned. I may be slow, but eventually I get there.
A few days ago error messages were popping up onto my computer screen. I hollered for Ari, who was already on his way down.
“DON’T touch it,” he said. I backed away. My computer tower and the little boxes on it are tucked into a corner of the kitchen. Getting to the connections requires Gumby arms and night vision goggles, not to mention a dust mask. Ari deftly poked something, and the lights on the boxes went out.
“Now, just don’t touch it.” He left the room. I immediately went to my keyboard and hit some buttons.
“It’s still not working!” I hollered.
“I told you to wait,” he hollered back.
“But the little lights are all back on,” I told him as he came down again. He glanced at both boxes.
“Look. You have to wait. It needs a few minutes to reset. It’s, it’s, I know. You have to preheat the fly around internet,” he finished. I could hear Christopher laughing in the next room.
I was happy with this explanation. Until I heard Ari later talking to his friends.
“She calls it fly around internet. I had to explain that resetting it was like preheating an oven. If we move out, she’s doomed,” he told them.
I’ll take that chance.