It started innocently enough.

“The internet’s out!” my wife announced early Friday morning.

“OK,” I replied wearily. “I’m on it.”

Or so I thought.

Normally in our not-so-techie household, no internet means squeezing behind the living room TV, unplugging the modem, waiting a minute, plugging it back in and, voila, the world is once again at our fingertips.

Or not. After unplugging and plugging a few times, I finally called Spectrum, where a man whose named sounded something like “Flibit” greeted me with a breezy, “And how are you this morning, William?”

“Been better,” I muttered. “My internet isn’t working.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that,” Flibit said. “Let’s see what we can do to take care of that for you.”

He tried.

He failed.

“We can have someone to your house between 4 and 5 p.m. today,” Flibit finally conceded.

“I’ll be here,” I promised.

In the meantime, we agreed, it might be a good idea to head over to Spectrum’s office in Portland and swap out our old modem for a new one.

Which I did. Arriving home, I hooked it up, stepped back and waited.

“No internet connection,” my laptop told me.

Four o’clock came and went. No one.

Then five o’clock. Still no one.

Finally, at 5:50 p.m., I heard the beep-beep-beep of the Spectrum van backing into the driveway.

“He’s here!” I hollered like a kid on Christmas morning.

Nice guy. Apologetic. Eager to get to work.

First, he replaced our antiquated cable.

Then he put in a new ground on the outside corner of the house.

Then he went down to the basement and took out a splitter we haven’t needed since we switched our TV service to DISH a few years back. Our signal, he promised, should be much, much better now.

“Great!” I said as I fired up my laptop.

“No internet connection,” it said.

We agreed it must be the wireless router, an Apple Airport Extreme I bought years ago because it was all the rage and I’m a sucker for that kind of thing. It’s blinked yellow from Day One, but it always worked fine so I never worried about it.

“Maybe I’ll get a new one,” I said.

“Not a bad idea,” Spectrum Man replied, packing up his tools.

Off to Best Buy, where the salesman told me I couldn’t go wrong with a little Google Wi-Fi router for $99. I liked it even better than the Apple Airport Extreme – smaller, sleeker, less intimidating.

“So how do I set it up?” I asked.

“Just plug it in, hook it up to the modem, follow the app and you’re good to go,” the salesman replied with a can’t-lose smile.

Saturday morning, just after dawn, I disconnected the old Apple Extreme, hooked up the new Google and braced myself for the best internet service ever.

Downloading the Google Wi-Fi setup app on my iPhone, I carefully followed the prompts: Unplug the modem and router … plug the modem back in … wait two minutes … plug the router back in … wait 20 seconds … and … and …?

Nothing. Just a spinning wheel on my iPhone screen telling me the setup was still in progress.

I called Google and got a personable young man who ran through the whole procedure again with me, did a few more diagnostics and finally told me, alas, the problem was with my internet signal, not the router.

“But I just got a new modem yesterday!” I protested. “And the guy told me my signal was stronger than ever!”

“I’m afraid you’ll have to call them,” he said.

Back to Spectrum.

First came a technical guy. After 15 minutes of trying this and that and calling in a supervisor because he’d “never seen anything like this before,” he told me my service was no longer operational and he’d have to switch me to someone “better equipped to deal with this.”

Then, after three minutes on hold, came a woman who had no idea why I was calling and asked for my street address.

Twenty-five minutes later, she told me she had no current account for our address but did find an old one under Time Warner Cable that for reasons she couldn’t explain was still up and running.

The good news, she said, was that the old account operated at a much slower speed than the new one will, “so you’re going to notice a real improvement in your internet service!”

“Great news!” I replied, flipping open the laptop and clicking on my home page.

“No internet connection.”

So here I sit, cut off from the world. Waving my white flag at the information highway as it bypasses my rat’s nest of modems, routers and other modern-day essentials.

With a little luck, I’ll find a hot spot so I can rocket these words from my laptop to the newspaper.

With a little more luck, I’ll spend the rest of the weekend sitting on the side porch, blissfully unplugged.

Bill Nemitz can be contacted at:

[email protected]

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