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Life Shouldn’t Be This Difficult, Nelson Says

High-tech equipment can be highly frustrating.

A mysterious piece of equipment called a router recently quit working at our house. In tech-speak, it “went on the fritz,” or, more precisely, “crapped out.”
 
This router gizmo, it seems, is essential for getting onto the internet. And without the internet – Facebook, Netflix, those YouTube videos of Simon’s Cat – life as we know it grinds to a halt. Plus we get our cable TV over the internet. How could we carry on without those Lawrence Welk reruns? Not that we ever actually watch them, mind you. But it’s disturbing to have this option unceremoniously erased from our entertainment menu.
 
I purchased a new router at a nearby megastore. The capabilities touted on the router’s packaging were quite impressive. These properties might have been even more exciting had I actually understood them. The router boasted an indecipherable alphabet soup of technological gee-wizardry, along with some exotic substance called gigahertz. I should have taken the “hurts” part as a sign.
 
It took no small amount of effort to extract the router from its nuclear-bombproof packaging. I might understand such packaging precautions if routers were dangerous. Near as I can tell, the only way the new router might harm someone would be if you tore a fingernail while extracting it from its wrapping.
 
I assumed that installing the router would be fairly straightforward. My theory was that I could simply unplug the various cables and cords from the old router and reinstall them on the new one. I am a plug-and-play kind of guy. Anything more complicated than mating a cable to socket is beyond my ken.
 
Everything went as planned – that is, until I tried to use the router to get onto the internet. The router acted as though we didn’t have an internet connection. I called our provider, who informed me that everything seemed to be working perfectly and that we should have internet coming out of our ears.
 
Several maddening hours were wasted in a fruitless effort to get the router to do its job. Teeth were gnashed; hair was pulled.
 
High-tech instruments are infinitely more delicate than farm equipment. At least when you repair farm equipment, you often get to release some of your frustrations. “Hand me the big hammer!” or “To heck with it, let’s use the acetylene torch!” aren’t phrases commonly used by computer repair persons.
 
I was deeply exasperated by the knowledge that I couldn’t use percussive persuasion on the new router. My frustration caused me to sink lower and lower until I hit rock bottom. Grudgingly, I swallowed the last shred of my pride and called Technical Support.
 
Within minutes I was speaking with a perky young lady in Technical Support. I don’t know where she was located, but assume it was India. This is based on the fact that she sounded like a female version of Rajesh Koothrappali from The Big Bang Theory.
 
The young lady asked for the router’s serial number. This meant trotting down into the basement where our router lives. She then talked me through a series of possible fixes for the recalcitrant router. Some of them involved such bizarre procedures as unplugging the router and plugging it back in. Each of these tactics meant jogging up and down the stairs multiple times. The “hurts” part soon became clear; my leg muscles began to ache as if I had climbed Mount Everest.
 
After battling with intractable problems for more than an hour, it felt like the Technical Support lady and I had become wartime allies. Our common enemy was the router.
 
In the end, we were forced to wave the white flag. “I’m sorry,” she said, “But we have tried every possible remedy.”
 
“Are you sure?” I asked. “Because there’s a 2-pound ball peen hammer down in the basement that’s itching to join the fight.”
 
“I advise you to return the router to your reseller,” she replied, her voice tinged with regret. “It appears that you have a defective unit.”
 
She may have been surprised by my reaction.
 
“This is great!” I exclaimed. “This means that it’s not my fault! I might not be as dumb as I thought.”
 
She didn’t say anything, but I knew her well enough by now to know that she was thinking: “I wouldn’t go that far.”
 
After we said our goodbyes, I went back to the megastore and got another router. The replacement fired right up. Our internet connection is now strong enough to be received in our fillings.
 
So everybody’s happy. But I’ll never forget that simple, human connection I made on the other side of the globe with that nice young lady in Technical Support.
        
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Jerry’s book, Dear County Agent Guy, is available at Workman.com and in bookstores nationwide.

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