Preparing to shoot a few segments of Big Jon in 5 for BEER2WHISKEY in our upstairs studio at Barley's Taproom in downtown Greenville. That's owner Josh Beebe preparing for his closeup.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Don't Tread on Me: Gearing Up to Take on "Big Phone" and "Big Water"

I am the victim of advancing technology. Evidently AT&T in my neck of the woods is upgrading to a fiber optics scheme of some sort. I don't know enough about such things to calculate whether this project will translate into anything positive for me or not. I haven't had a land-line phone since moving to Greenville. I do use AT&T DSL for my Internet access. No clue as to whether AT&T's tinkering about will enhance my Web uplink. It certainly hasn't so far.

In bringing the 21st century to the unwashed, AT&T has dug up my yard no less than four times in the past 12 months. I now have a big ugly green terminal box situated next to the big ugly utility pole that is located in the setback about mid-way along my front yard. Every two or three months, AT&T shows up to excavate a trench that runs from the side street (I have a corner lot) to this terminal box, and then from the terminal box down my side yard to one of the two, new big ugly terminal boxes they have installed in the front yard of the neighboring house behind me. It's quite the operation with all manner of trucks, trailers and backhoes parked in my yard and along the side street.

AT&T doesn't do this work itself, but contracts it out to some private vendor. In what can only be classified as blatantly stupid, AT&T pays these guys to come back again and again to dig the same trench in the same spot and lay more line, cable or whatever in the hell they are laying. When they are finished, they fill in the hole and scatter some straw over the whole mess. Meanwhile my yard is rutted and pitted from all the equipment that has been parked in it.

They were here last about six weeks ago. As usual, they were digging up the same trench. I returned from the gym to find a geyser of water spraying about 40 feet into the air. These geniuses had punctured the water main. Water was gushing into the tops of the pine trees in my side yard and flowing like the Colorado River down the side street where it came to rest pooling in people's front yards. Eventually the side street assumed the role of water-soaked parking lot containing the vehicles of a couple of AT&T supervisors, two Greenville Water Company trucks (one towing its own backhoe), a county sheriff's car and a fire truck. A EMT ambulance and a sanitation truck would have rounded out the collection.

The water company employees finally got things under control and the water flow stopped. They excavated a huge hole in my side yard to fix the violated pipe. This was halfway filled in when they finished. They then taped it all off with yellow "police" tape and left it. Thus it sits today. Neither AT&T nor the water company has returned to finish the job. Tic toc, tic toc....

With the hubbub of the holidays and my natural propensity toward inaction, I have yet to address the issue; but with every passing day I am growing more frustrated. Obviously, this isn't going to be resolved on its own. I am going to be forced to act. I'm sure once I begin making calls, I will embark on a round robin with AT&T and the water company as each points the finger at the other. I can hardly wait.

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