Oliver: Pandemic forces dinosaur to move into 21st century

Joan Oliver
Joan Oliver

About the 15th time our lack of bandwidth kicked us off a recent Zoom meeting, it became apparent that this situation was going to have to change.

Of course, I had been saying this ever since my friend Ryan informed me that my DSL internet connection was a bit of a dinosaur and that my bandwidth was laughable.

Still, it served my purposes and I put it off, mainly because switching required research. That was something that my beloved husband, Tony, was always the one to do.

Unfortunately, that is no longer possible, so it was up to me. And I couldn’t put it off any longer.

For simplicity’s sake, I went with my cable provider, who sent a box full of things that I would have to set up myself. Since we’re in the middle of a pandemic, this appealed to the side of my brain that prefers to have as little human contact as possible. However, it scared the dickens out of the side of my brain that doesn’t like to be responsible for technical tasks. This was Tony’s domain.

Still, desperation makes one at least be willing to try. So I opened the box and pulled out the internet box. It came with a splitter, which I would have to use at the point where the cable comes out of an outlet.

I went looking for this, following the cable from the TV into a hole in the built-in bookcases in our living room. Then I found myself on the other side of the wall in my pantry.

Ugh. No chance I could set up the box there. In a panic, I called Ryan, who didn’t answer.

OK. Time to figure this out myself. I found a connector on the bookcase side of the wall. After a couple of tries, I figured out how to attach the splitter and got the internet signal up and running. Success!

By then I had been running on so much adrenaline that I was too exhausted to even think about wrangling with the new cable box that came, too. That would have to wait a day.

The next day happened to be the first game of the Chicago Bears season. Of course, I was going to watch that. I also knew that because the cable box was in an armoire that also housed more wires than I was prepared to deal with, I had to make the best use of the lighting I had during the day.

Back when Tony could be an audio-visual nerd, he was. That means there was a DVD player, an amplifier, a VCR, a surround-sound system and the cable box, all in some way connected to the TV. I had to work around all of it.

I figured that halftime of the game would be perfect. How long could this take? Still, I sent up a tablet to stream the game just in case.

First I got that VCR out of there. I think it was sheer inertia that had it still sitting where it had been since the dawn of time. However, it hadn’t been used in at least a decade, so out it went. Besides, it would make some room for me to work.

I decided the best strategy was to just unplug from the old and then plug into the new. I’d just have to figure out how to get the new box plugged in after threading the cord through the back of the armoire.

When the new cable box fired up, I thought for sure I was in business. Then a message on the TV screen said I had to call the company to address an issue with my account. What?!

My call was answered by a lovely woman who I am pretty sure was in the Philippines. Still, we managed to make some small talk as she helped me troubleshoot the issues with my new box.

About 25 minutes later, I was up and running.

Just in time for the Bears to begin their comeback. And just like the Bears, my efforts might not have been pretty, but in the end they were successful.

• Joan Oliver is the former Northwest Herald assistant news editor. She has been associated with the Northwest Herald since 1990. She can be reached at

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