Connected at last

We are finally connected with a permanent internet connection! ...sort of. It is really a minor miracle that we are connected now, but we'll take it. It has been a long process, but just over 6 weeks after arriving, we finally are connected. I have had access at work, and for the last month we've been borrowing someone's dial-up box, but that was only a 1-month thing that we knew wouldn't last. Well, that ran out on Monday, but the process began last week. I'll tell the story because it's a good example of how things sometimes work here.

A week ago on Monday, I went down and signed up and paid an exorbitant connection fee to give us a wireless connection of up to a "blazing" 128 KB/sec! (The monthly fee for this is about 4 times what the basic Charter (cable) connection rate for TV and internet was back home. The setup fee was just under $1,100 US dollars! I'm sure most of you probably thought things were "cheap" over here - the truth is, the majority of things are much more expensive.) They said that when they came out to hook up our friends who just moved in next door, they would connect us as well since we are right next door. Well, Saturday, they were at our friends house connecting them, so our friends called and told me to get right over there. So I did, only to find that they were unaware that we were waiting to be connected too and therefore didn't have our equipment with them. They said they'd be back on Monday.

On Monday night, they called and said it would be Tuesday morning at 8:30am. On Tuesday morning at 9am, they called and said 11am. At 11am, they called and said 1:30pm. At 3:30pm, I called to check, and they said that the car was out and that it was unlikely to happen that day. So I called the office and the lady there was nice, and told me that the only way I would be connected is if I drove down to their office and asked for my money back if they weren't hooking me up that night.

So all 5 of us drove down there, waited for an hour, and finally drove 3 technicians back to our house. They proceeded to work on it until 9pm, at which time they said they needed to come back to finish another day, but our basic connection was in. I got home at 10pm from returning the 3 men to the office downtown. In retrospect, it really is comical that in order to get connected, we had to physically go down to the office and bring the technicians home to do it!

On Wednesday, I had to drive 50 miles North of town (took 4 hours to drive that distance on the bad roads and traffic, but that's another story for another blog entry) to a new project, so I requested them to come on Thursday(today). So today, I went through another round of scheduling times, starting at 11:30am and finishing with their arrival at our house at 3pm. So they ran some wire to locate our wireless router downstairs from the antenna (wireless routers don't work well in 2-story concrete houses), but they were unable to configure the router.

So, unfortunately, you don't get to hear the end of the story right now, because the story isn't over! We hope to get the router back tomorrow, but at least we can plug into the antenna and get online now. Also, because of the surrounding topography, our signal is weak, so they have to return in a few weeks to install an exterior antenna - a part they are currently out of and aren't sure when they will have it in! Consequently, our speeds are only at around 32KB/sec instead of 128...but after struggling through the dial-up connection that maxed out at about 7KB/sec in the evenings, we feel like we're flying!

So it's been a good lesson in patience, but also in how to get things accomplished here. If you push for a time and schedule, you will likely be told an unrealistic schedule that they will not be able to meet. But if you don't push at all, you will never get serviced. So it is a balancing act of applying 'freindly pressure' while not getting too specific, or at least not counting on what specifics you get to hold true.

All of that to say, the people I have dealt with have been extremely nice and friendly, and I believe sincerely want to do a good job. But often, for reasons out of their control, they are not able to fulfill what is promised to the client.

I am learning about myself though. Since my tendency is to take people at their word and then to just forgive them if they don't come through, it is hard for me to be confrontational or pushy. I know Mark (Dew) knows this about me from work back home, but I suspect others may not. But over here, I will need to learn a little strategic assertiveness to be effective. Alisha is usually the (elected) assertive one in the family! ...I guess I am a little assertive for "electing" her! (Sorry no pictures this time, I'll try to post some this weekend.)

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