Thursday, 14 August 2008

Livebox - Not!

Seems like all my French practice at the moment is with France Telecom's 3900 "helpline".

I'm getting really good at understanding what the electronic messages are saying as I sail through pressing "un" about five times to get routed to the right person. At that point my stomach tightens, as I wonder who I will get and how I will cope with their questions and how they will cope with my pidgin French replies. Learnt a new word today - prise for socket - may have heard it before, but, if so, didn't register.

We're still having problems with our internet connection. Sometimes we can go a whole week with our livebox behaving beautifully - all the right lights glowing steadily. But then there's that depressing moment when we walk into the kitchen and there, on the work surface, tucked beside the bottles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar among the muddle of condiments, this white plastic triangular box sits there with just the one flashing light: "oh it's gone again!"

This last weekend was a bad one: Friday, Saturday and Sunday we lost contact at various points and I had my strained conversations with the helpline. Sunday I was lucky. I got a woman on the phone and she was very gentle with me. We talked slowly. I understood her most of the time. She understood me and sounded sympathetic. I haltingly managed to explain that as soon as they remotely test the line we get our connection back. But it doesn't always last. Sometimes it "holds" for only an hour or two. So we agreed that this time, we would arrange an engineer's visit.

Tuesday afternoon, five-ish (when we'd almost given up hope) the phone rang - "Qu'est ce que se passe?" said a male voice. Not very helpful, because I hadn't a clue what to say in reply! He needed directions and I'm getting quite fluent at describing how to find us. Fortunately we have a restaurant on a corner about two kilometers down the road, which of course all good Frenchmen know. (Like the English and pubs.) So we navigate from there.

A few minutes later, France Telecom van and France Telecom lorry (for lifting engineer to top of pole) arrive. Much muttering and sucking of teeth and walking round with small electronic gadgets trying to get them to beep. Tod took them up into the loft where they ripped out something they said we no longer needed. They changed the power lead to the livebox because the plug was warm. And that was it. They said we were fine. And left. We felt smug at having sorted this ourselves without having had to use friends to translate.

That was Tuesday evening. Today - Thursday morning - we have woken to the dreaded flashing light again. Yet another call, the line was tested and yes - for now - we are reconnected.

An engineer is coming back next Wednesday. If he phones for directions, I'll ask him if he knows the restaurant.

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