Things can get frustrating sometimes. For example, when I am in the middle of a halting, monosyllabic, sentence fragment and I cannot think of the word or use an adequate hand gesture to make myself understood. I then frantically dig out the pocket dictionario and scan the tiny pages while my poor Italian counterpart is rolling his eyes and wondering why he didn’t become a pharmacist as his father suggested instead of getting in the tourist business.
Trains can be a source of frustration also, like when I can’t find the correct platform during a train change because they don’t bother to print it on your ticket. So, while I am going to Catanzaro, I in fact, must take the train to Naples. How this is determined is a much longer lesson. It is enough to say that when I finally figure it out and run to the platform, toting my luggage first down 25 steps across the hallway and then up another 25 steps, I see my train pulling out of the station. Frustrating, yes, but in Italia there is always another train, and there is always a coffee shop in which to wait. A little frustration – but resolution. It is OK.
Frustration with Vodafone, on the other hand, is its own special brand. Vodafone is the company from which I purchase internet time. It is very simple, you give them 20 euro, they give you a little card and you put it into a little key and plug it into a USB port. Done. If I recall correctly, they, like TIM and WIND the phone card companies, even ask you what language you would like to install. I always pick English, just for fun. Of course, I have never gotten a message in English, not a text message, an audio message, or any type of written instruction that actually arrives in English, but, you know, I hope. The first few times I made an unsuccessful to call to American it was followed by a very pleasant mechanical voice speaking in perfect, albeit high speed, Italian explaining to me the exact reason for my failure to connect with my family. I have no idea what she has said and unlike America, there is no option to “Push 2” for English.
But, the internet is my connection to the outside world, my peek into FB, my email to family (when the phone won’t work), my SKYPE with the grandbaby, not to mention my train scheduler and my hotel reservation-maker and my Mapquest to find that hotel when I arrive in a new city. So, when it gets recalcitrant, I get crabby.
I worried a little when I decided to down load a movie. The last of my visitors was gone, I forgot to load any movies before I left, and I don’t have TV or a radio. I needed to insure I would hear at least a little English in the last two weeks. Last time I was here I spent a little too much time listening to some American music on the internet and after that a true nightmare began. The connection got slower, and sloooower, and sloooooower….and sllooowwweeerr. Eventually, I received nothing, though I could see that I had a good connection. With nothing but time, three months in Soverato with a 6-midnight job, I dove into the problem. It is important to understand, that while I always carry my tiny dictionary, I rely quite heavily on the Google Translate. So, when messages came up from Vodafone explaining something to me, I was unable to go to Google to translate it. It required hours of word by word translation, without the benefit of tense, gender or adjective forms. When I finally had a rough idea of what they were saying I decided to fix it myself. Depending on how well you know me you will be able to gauge the absurdity of this endeavor.
Armed with the basic translation I opened my C: drive and dug in – into the device drivers, the cookies, the ISP settings, and I even reset my computer back to sometime in 1975 to undo the mess I had made previously. After about two days of complete frustration, three trips to the Vodafone office, packing my computer and an attitude, the non-English speaking salesperson suggested it was my computer and NOT Vodafone. I honestly don’t recall how I found a computer repair person, but I did. I brought him my computer on day four, leaving it over the weekend because his connection was soooo slow that downloading took hours upon hours. I feared for what the actual cost would be and that all my data might be gone, but happily it was only 20 euro and it worked.
On my way to work, working computer safely in my tote bag, Dansko-esque shoes on my feet, I walked an unfamiliar street while looking someplace other than the road ahead. Of course, I stepped on something uneven (note the Dansko reference), lost my balance and took a spectacular fall that was preceded by the particularly ungraceful maybe-I-can-save-myself vaulting steps accompanied by the flaying windmill arms that actually launched the computer from the tote sending it skittering down the asphalt three feet ahead of me and I landed with a thud right on my face. Fortunately, there was an entire veranda full of young people drinking coffee just slightly elevated from my streetside performance. Several young ladies rushed to me aide asking me if I was OK and shouting updates to their ringside friends about my status and my country of origin. I was up, embarrassed, shaken, worried about my computer and late for work. I packed up, thanked everyone, and pressed on until I was out of sight. Then I found the first seaside bench I could and had a look at my skinned knee, bleeding fingertip, torn tote bag and somehow perfectly intact computer, shed an involuntary tear or two and then headed to work.
With this memory a mere 18 months old, you would think I would have hesitated to download a movie, but things had been going so swimmingly. The first sign that something was amiss was the fact that the bonus item with my movie wouldn’t download. That was followed by a message, strikingly like the one I received last time. Every detail of the last fiasco flashed in realtime. I spend an evening and the next day trying to download emails, open FB or even get Google to respond. I simply couldn’t face that fact that this was happening again. That night I gingerly checked every item in the Vodofone repertoire before I even contemplated opening my C: drive. I found a little box labeled Time. I don’t recall this box being there before. I opened and it said I had used my 5 gigabytes but I still had 10 days left on my contract. Actually, it didn’t say that, but there were charts and graphs and quite a few Italian words, some that I recognized. I closed it and reopened it, three more times, to assure myself I had not fallen down the rabbit hole. Yup, sure enough, another 20 euro and a new SIM card and I am back in business.
Ciao for Now,