"Oh... okay... but why-" I start but the woman from the service hotline is already gone, replaced by some jingle. I let my cellphone sink, sighing in defeat. This is the fourth time I called today because I have had no internet connection for three weeks and today the land line died, too. The woman that has connected me further was already the sixth person I spoke to today. So far everyone has had another suggestion but nothing worked, I am still cut from the outside world. It feels weird, especially considering that this had been standard just a few decades ago: not being able to communicate with whoever I want within seconds.
At least if it were not for my cellphone.
I do not know how talking to yet another person will fix the problem but I do not want to give up yet. I hear a muffled voice issuing from the speaker and hold it to my ear again.
"- from technical support. How can I help you?"
It is a man and his voice catches me by surprise. It is low, gentle, and I feel a pleasant shiver run down my spine. Plus he does sound a little excited. Maybe the people from the hotline do not call technical support often. Probably making sure that the router is plugged in or guiding the client to restart it is enough to solve most problems. I should be honored that mine seems complicated enough to have made it to technical support after all.
"Uh... er... I have had problems connecting to the internet the last weeks and now the phone is gone, too." I tell him what I have already explained to the others before him.
"I see..." he mumbles. I grip the cellphone harder. Somehow having him talking into my ear seems too intimate.
"Okay, I need your help here," he says.
I nod distracted and then remember. "Yes?"
"Could you please unplug the phone for me?"
"Unplug the phone..." I repeat while I stare at the chaos of cables and plugs in front of me. It is silly, really, I should be best friend with every technology but honestly, hardware just freaks me out.
"It should be a plug in the wall," the voice supplies patiently.
"Oh… of course." Indeed, of course. Where is my brain?
I crouch down in the small space between the cupboard and the wall in my hallway where the router is and unplug the phone. It is unbelievably dusty down there, I notice and I pull back immediately. I do not want to sneeze into that guy’s ear.
"Okay, I think I did it," I inform him.
"You found the right one?"
"Yeah, guess so." I turn the black plug around in my hand. "It has a strange shape, this plug." Okay, so now he definitely thinks I am a hopeless Neanderthal.
"What lights do you see now on the router?" His voice gives nothing away.
I turn my attention back to the white box that caused all this. "Uh... Funny, now there is only one sign there," I say, surprised.
Now he is definitely chuckling a little. "Well, what you want are all signs lighting up, am I right?"
"Yes... uh... right. I'd like to have internet connection again. Can you do that for me?" I say and giggle nervously. Great, five minutes into the conversation and I am flirting with this guy. I am not even single, technically speaking. Not yet, at least.
"We’ll make it work. Okay, so… that is not good. Could you please push the button on the back of the router for half a minute?"
"Um... sure… just a moment." Luckily I find the button quickly. There is only one at the back.
"A little bit longer..." the voice whispers and I press the button with extra force. No one speaks and I can hear his breathing on the other side while I still press the button. Okay, this is getting awkward.
"This should do it." I can hear a smile in his voice. "Hm..."
I wonder what he can see on his computer right now. The white box in front of me refuses to speak to me.
"I'm going to run some tests," he says. "This will take a few hours. Can I call you back on this number?"
"On this....? Oh yes, of course." I forgot I did not call him from the land line. Of course I did not. It is the whole reason I called after all.
"Please don't turn off the router while I'm on it."
"No, I won't," I assure him. I am not stupid, regardless of how I am feeling right now. What is this guy doing to me? "Don’t worry."
"Hope to hear you soon again," he says. I wonder of this is the proper way of saying goodbye to a client.
"I mean... that would mean we’d know soon where the problem is and how to fix it," he says and yes, he seems kind of flustered, too.
"Yeah... of course."
"Have a good evening."
"You too. Uh... I mean..." Damn, he is at work. Probably he is not going to have a nice evening and that is partly also thanks to me and my router.
"Goodbye." I hear the smile in his voice again.
"Goodbye." I am glad I can finally throw the phone down on the dresser before I embarrass myself any further.
He calls me back when I am in the kitchen, preparing dinner. His voice is still that low one that has my skin crawling pleasantly.
"Did you find the problem?"
"Yes... well, I ran the test and-"
"Oops, shit." I pull my stinging hand away and quickly heave the pot that is spitting hot red sauce away from the heating plate.
I pick up the phone again that I have thrown on the countertop. “Hi… uh, sorry.”
"What happened?" The tech guy sounds genuinely concerned.
I giggle and feel my cheeks grow hot. I really am a klutz. "I... uh... nothing serious. Just tomato sauce everywhere."
He chuckles again lowly. "What is for dinner?"
I hold my hand under cold water from the tap. "Spaghetti," I say. I realize it sounds kind of sad. I am the worst cook and there is just no sense in making anything else than pasta for one person.
He does not seem to think that. "What's wrong with that? Sounds delicious."
"I.... uh..." Honestly, I am close to telling him about my love life but I can stop myself in the last second. What am I thinking? This guy is here to fix the internet, nothing else. Plus he is a total stranger. What is wrong with me, I cannot even stand talking to my best friend about most private things and now I am completely losing it to some guy on the phone.
"Okay… so… I'm sorry to inform you that the test is still inconclusive but there seems to be a problem with the connection to your apartment. Only I can't confirm that from here, I need to check that on site."
"On site...but..." I am confused. The guy could be sitting in a call center anywhere in the country. From all I know he could be in India. Well, no accent, but still.
"Your telephone company has delocalized its technical support to increase quality and efficiency." It is the first sentence that sounds learned by heart. He clears his throat. "Which means I can be at your home within an hour."
"Uh..." This is at short notice indeed. I sweep a hasty look through the apartment. It is not too bad, nothing that cannot be fixed within that time. I just did the laundry yesterday. It definitely does not look like the apartment of a woman on the brink of a break-up. Or does it?
"But we can make an appointment for next week if it is more convenient for you," he offers quickly.
"Uh-oh... no, that's not necessary. I... I have time now. It's okay," I blabber on.
"Great!" I can hear him grinning. "I have your address here."
I remove a tower of newspapers from the table in front of the couch. "Uhm... okay, then see you in an hour, I guess." It freaking sounds like a date. I am suddenly glad I am alone in my apartment. Marcus would have went berserk with jealousy. To think I found that an attractive trait once…
"Yes, see you. Oh," I can hear him clearing his voice. "By the way, is there an elevator to your apartment?"
I stop folding the blankets on the couch and change the phone from its place wedged between my cheek and shoulder to holding it back to my ear. "Uh... no, sorry. But it's just the second floor, there are only a few steps up." I shake my head as I readjust the picture of him in my mind. Also overweight technicians can have sexy voices, can't they? It says a lot about me that I created him matching to the perfect voice, tall and lean, only missing the horse to complete the prince in the fairytale.
"Oh... hm..." His voice has changed somehow. "Okay. See you then."
I hurry around my, luckily, small apartment, stuffing stray things in cupboards and moving used dishes in the kitchen. I am not usually messy, but lately things have been different. When did I last vacuum?
The doorbell rings exactly one hour later. I buzz the door half a level downstairs and open the one to my apartment. I assume he will take some time if he really is as corpulent as I am guessing based on his question and I use the minutes to store a few winter jackets away to make space for his. But he really takes forever and I step out into the hallway to make sure he has not had a heart attack from climbing up.
I freeze looking down the stairs. Shit!
---> Chapter 2
---> Chapter 2