What I dreaded would happen actually happened today. I had put off the inevitable. Today I could not avoid it any longer.

Several months ago I received a notice from my cable provider that customers needed to install a new modem. This device had to be ordered directly from the cable company. A simple do–it-yourself installation by the customer was promised.

When my new modem arrived (my old one was working just fine), it came in a very large box. This was immediately intimidating.  I would have been excited if this was a birthday present, but the size of the box only increased my do-it-yourself performance anxiety.  I am not installation illiterate.  I have put together numerous gadgets and appliances. This was different. This was not a simple plug-in device. There were pictures and instructions included and a glossy manual.   I did not feel comfortable disconnecting something  that was working fine and taking a chance of gumming up my cable network.

My modem is my vital connection between my computer, me, and my contacts. It is my link to my links and URLS and to this blog. I could foresee in advance that attempting an at-home installation would challenge my patience and my competence. Most of all, I feared losing my data on my computer should a glitch occur, which according to Murphy’s Law and previous experience, was likely to happen.

My installation anxiety led me to procrastinate, rationalize, deny, repress, and convince myself that I could survive with my existing modem. I did not need this new gizmo in the big box. Maybe my old modem was slower than the new one, but it was reliable and I knew its quirks.

This morning, I received an e mail from my cable company telling me that if I didn’t install my new modem (and return the old one to them) that they would discontinue my service. My discontinuation-anxiety superseded my installation-anxiety. With a full day of work and seeing patients ahead of me, I knew I had to make “the call” for help.

Summoning up all my positive energy and more denial that this wouldn’t be as annoying as I expected, I dialed the cable company. I was not surprised to be put on “hold” after pushing  number 3 as instructed,  and then entering my phone number, and then hitting number 2 on the phone keypad. I was told that all agents were busy but my “call would be answered shortly – please hold”. I believed them. I was afraid not to. Then my call was cut off and the connection severed.

I tried again. Same thing happened.

I tried once more, determined not to be defeated by the cable company, but this time, while the stuff they call music was playing in the background and I was continually reassured I would “be taken care of shortly”, I also went on line for an  “e-chat with a representative” from the cable company.

I got a message on my computer screen that I was Number 22 in queue.

After about a half hour passed, I saw I was number 2 in queue. I felt a rush of joy and anticipation that overcame all the phrases I had been practicing in my head to  level at whomever I spoke with first.

Finally my computer screen displayed a message from Harold.

I saved our e-on-line-“talk” and copy the entire conversation below to share with you.



Harold: I am here to provide you with excellent customer service today. Please be assured I will do my best to help you with your concern.

LOUIS (my husband’s name is on the account)_:  I ordered a new modem but have not installed it b/c I cannot figure it out – and would like to schedule an appointment with the technician to come out to our house and install it. Today I got a notice if I don’t do it soon my service will be discontinued.

LOUIS_: This is Julie (Louis’ wife) please help me schedule an appointment so someone can come out and install the new modem – and my service will NOT be discontinued

Waiting for response from Harold

Harold: Hello Louis. I hope you are doing great today.

LOUIS_: I have to see a patient in a few minutes and need some help – and this is Julie. (To myself: If Harold called me Louis one more time I was going to call him Harriet)

Harold: I understand that you are trying to install the new modem with your phone service, am I correct?

Waiting for response from Harold

LOUIS_: no with my computer at my house (I am at my office NOW) but I need to schedule an appointment with a TECH for my home modem

Harold: Oh, I see. Thank you for the information.

Harold: Let me assist you with that.

Harold: May I have the affected phone number, please?

LOUIS_: thank you – XXX XXX XXXX

Harold: Thank you for providing that information.

Harold: I am still processing your request. Would you mind being placed on hold briefly so I can work on your request?

LOUIS_: I guess I don’t have a choice – I have to see a patient in 5 minutes – will we be done? I’ve spent the last hour on hold both on phone and in the queue here – I hope this will be simple. thank you for your help ASAP

Waiting for response from Harold

Waiting for response from Harold

Waiting for response from Harold

Waiting for response from Harold

Harold: Thank you for waiting, Julie. May I have a valid call ahead phone number, please?

Waiting for response from Harold


Harold: Thank you for providing that information.

LOUIS_: I JUST SPOKE WITH SOMEONE on the phone who is also working on it…..I have to see a patient now so will have to hang up. thank you I have to hang up

Waiting for response from Harold

Waiting for response from Harold

Harold: Can you check and provide to me the MTA MAC address of the new modem, please?

Waiting for response from Harold

Harold: Okay, no problem, Julie. If you need assistance in the future, please do not hesitate to chat with us at your convenience. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We also offers great FAQ and Help forums to help you solve many issues on your own.

Waiting for response from Harold

Waiting for response from Harold


Dear exasperated Reader, while e-talking with Harold, I was on hold simultaneously on my phone with the cable company. Finally a real person spoke with me and arranged for a Tech to come to my home in a couple of days to install my modem.

By this time I had spent my entire lunch hour dealing with my cable company and wound up with indigestion. I had forgotten about my anxiety. I hope I will soon get a fully working new modem installed to help wash down the distaste of the cable company’s statement “we put our customers first”.

Hope you will share your  installation-anxiety in the reply box below.


photo by Max Westby