Healing From Loss: Ungrounded

UNGROUNDEDSome people have bad hair days. I have bad technology days.

My son had just bought me a cell phone last week when mine quit. The next day the Internet connection at the house failed. Hating to deal with Verizon tech support, I put off the phone call for help. And after finally gathering the courage to face the inevitable hours of frustration working with someone on the other side of Earth to get back online, I discover that my landline is dead.

“Agent. A-gent,” I shout impatiently a short while into the labyrinth of Verizon’s automated answering system. I finally get a real live human who questions me, runs tests, and tells me a technician will come out in eight days.

“You mean I’m stranded without Internet or a landline for the whole week? No emails, no Facebook postings? No human contact?”

“That’s the soonest we can get someone out there,” she confirms.

I regard all the wires binding the phone/fax/message machine to the walls and to home. The lifelines that reach out in tangled masses to the web and the world sit useless. During the next days I periodically pick up the receiver in hopes of finding the familiar dial tone. There are only screeching sounds when I check the line. I’ve always had a landline and I’ve been with Verizon for as long as I can remember. And I miss the warm welcoming light that blinks on the bulky plastic phone when I get a message.

Feeling disconnected and powerless is not helpful in the process of healing from loss. For three days I drive to friends’ houses to keep up with emails and postings. I dig out the old paperback thesaurus and find weather updates on the TV. The new cell phone is still strange to me and I explore the different buttons and functions to connect with the world. Lots of people don’t even have landlines anymore, I tell myself. I can survive this.

But by the third day I feel totally cranky and ungrounded. So I leave the house to investigate my other options.

That’s when I find the bird. Lying on its back in the driveway is a young robin that must have flown into a window. Someone’s day was worse than mine, I think. The robin is still warm when I pick it up to remove it from the path of my car.

Entering the office of Clarity Connect, I notice the shelves that line each wall and drip over with equipment and papers. In the middle of the room, busy at their computers, are a bunch of young geeks in tee shirts and sneakers. They introduce themselves with names like Ryan, Corbin, Jesse and Mike. I shake hands feeling like I’ve landed in the middle of the lost boys in Never-Never Land.

“We’ve just put up a new tower across the street from you,” says Ryan. He seems genuinely pleased to meet me. I begin to picture the big red Verizon V on equipment all over my house flying off in the distance with the geese heading south.

“We can install service for you on Monday,” says Mike. I’m sold.

Driving back from Clarity I find myself singing “I’m Flying” from Peter Pan. And shortly after I arrive home I pour a glass of sherry and tear out the dead phone/fax/answering machine.

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