Amir Suggestion

Writing, for me, has always been hard work. The right words come to me a few at a time and only occasionally in a flow. But inspiration always eludes me when I start out in the morning. That’s why, when I sit down at my iMac, before I get to work, I begin by plowing through my emails, spending the mandatory minute or two on Facebook, and then heading over to YouTube to see what goodies await me. Usually, I stay away from anything that might upset me (think, U.S. politics), but once in a while, curiosity gets the better of me, and I soon regret my folly.

The morning in question found me watching a video that contained a clip that had ‘gone viral’ the week before. Political activists will sometimes masquerade as TV journalists, going around and posing some fairly simple questions to random passers-by to gauge their reactions. Here was some duffer being asked what he thought was the most important issue in the Virginia gubernatorial race? (Asked the same day as the election.) You are free to guess his response, or maybe you don’t want to know. (My best advice: go with option B.)

It was at this less-than-memorable moment that my cell phone rang – not always a given. There are days, especially if I’m not going anywhere, when I forget to turn it on. But this morning, Barbara was going for a swim and then heading over to our health clinic for some physical therapy, so she might have wanted to reach me. I answered the phone – also not always a given in some circles. Our son-in-law, Gil, has told us that if the call is from someone he doesn’t know, he won’t answer. I don’t see the point of that, so I respond with a loud and clear ‘HELLO’ in my best American regional accent. (If callers can’t figure out that they’re talking to an Anglo and don’t waste my time in Ivrit, that’s their problem.) It was, in fact, a young lady who did speak decent English, calling from Bezeq, our internet and land line provider, with an offer. Did we want to upgrade to a fiber optic cable that would (they say) speed our internet connection up to six times? It would cost us the same as before, and it would simplify our billing.

Fiber optics? A number of months ago, friend Ezra was able to noodge his way into getting something similar from his internet provider. Which was a good thing, because there are six of them, and there are times when there’s a whole lot of streamin’ going on. Plus, Ezra and Shoshana are working from home. So whatever download speed they have, it’s never too much. But for me and Barbara? May I suggest that our needs are more modest? If we never got an upgrade, I wouldn’t be upset.

Perhaps you’ve been in this situation: someone offers you something that you don’t exactly need. OK, it won’t cost you anything, so there’s no harm – you say to yourself. Maybe that’s why you have too much stuff cluttering up your space, items that you might find a use for some day, a time in the indefinite future.

All right, what do I say to the young person on the phone, who’s making me an offer she assumes I can’t and won’t refuse? Tell me, what do I have to do? One, agree to the upgrade, and two, open the door when the technicians arrive and let them in. That’s all. Those two conditions seemed to be within the limits of my skill set. Also, Barbara would be back soon, so communication in a foreign tongue – if needed – would be taken care of. I couldn’t think of a good reason not to do it. All right, I agree.

A few minutes later, I got another call, whereupon we set up an appointment for Thurs. afternoon for their technicians to arrive. And then I got still another call. The technicians could arrive that day (Mon. Nov. 8, if you’re keeping track) between 11:30 and 1PM. Wait a minute, it’s now 11:20, so you mean NOW? I’m home, so…….

11:30 came and went; 1PM came and went. We finally heard from the technicians. They were delayed. Something about a problem where they were. From the amount of time it took them to arrive, we could assume it was a big problem or perhaps a number of small problems one after another. To make their day complete, they came to us, only to come face to face with another problem. Where is your router?  In the back room (Barbara’s office), too far away to run a fragile fiber optic connection from the main line in the cabinet on the wall outside our front door. But there had been a TV cable from there to our living room. Why not use that channel? Except there was a blockage, so they couldn’t use that either.

What does a Bezeq technical crew do when they are stuck, when they are stymied, when they are 0 for 2, when it’s coming close to the end of their workday and they still have another job to complete? Pick up the cell phone and call Amir; that’s what they did, and then wait for him to show up and save the day. (Amir, Amir, he’s the man, if he can’t do it, no one can.)

I watched Amir as he looked around. I could see his furrowed brow as he thought things through. There was one other possibility, and that had to work. The first thing anyone would see upon entering our apartment is the little end table on which rest two phones, one wired and one cordless. (I should mention that this exquisite piece of furniture was made by my grandfather, who was a cabinet maker.) We’ll use that location and move the router out there. That will cover most of the apartment for Wi-fi, but to make sure, put a second router in the back room where the first one had been – of course, that means we now have two different networks in our apartment, one for each of our computers. (Doesn’t everyone?) The first two guys left to make another call (no rest for the weary), leaving Amir to finish the job – which he did, except that, in the process, he disabled our cordless phone connection, meaning we had to get another guy to come out two days later to fix that problem.

So we now have fiber optics in our apartment. Apparently, this technology is only available in certain buildings in Maale Adumim and not in others. I’m told that we shouldn’t go around bragging that we have it because some of those who don’t might get miffed. So what good is that? What’s the point of having bragging rights if you have to keep it a secret?

But more to the point, will having a fiber optic connection improve our lives? I’m not convinced it will. There’s the notion that faster is better, but maybe we should be going for more thoughtful is better. Perhaps we’d be better off if it took more time to say something instead of less – if we had to consider what we wanted preserved for posterity. Or whose opinions we wanted to save. Perhaps not an old duffer opining about the election in his home state. But, as they say, it’s just a suggestion.

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