(cross-posted from Kosher Eucharist)

My Internet at home went out a few days ago. This has forced me to undergo the difficult process of Internet withdrawal without preparing the necessary supplies (Soothing music. Hummus, several tubs of. Shakshuka, several kilos of, for consumption stoned. Hashish, several fingers of. Iced tea, Coca Cola. Cartoons, several hours worth. One bed, comfy. One bucket for tears.). I now find myself on the floor of one Mobius, noted arch-terrorist, Enemy of the Jews and wielder of the dark arts, to whose apartment I crawled after the shakes, chills and visions subsided enough to allow for movement, and who was kind enough to provide me with the syrupy-sweet and delicious flow of data to which I have become thoroughly addicted. I don’t need any stinking router, just plug the DSL straight into my ear. Twitch, twitch, twitch, that’s good fucking Internet.

Some of you out there may be asking yourselves why I have not merely called the customer service line of my ISP. I would be willing to bet one dish of creamy Ta’ami hummus with fuul and fresh-out-the-fryer falafel that none of you people live in Israel. Israelis know the score. Israelis know that acquiring an Internet connection is not a simple matter of doing a bit of research, choosing a service that appeals to you, and having them send a soothingly competent man with a magic box to connect your home, in a matter of minutes, to a boundless virtual network overflowing with the collective knowledge of mankind, a collective knowledge which inexplicably seems to manifest itself in the form of photos of Britney Spears’ dam-building aquatic mammal. Here in the Middle East, despite the fact that we have the apparent technical know-how to build the world’s only functioning missle defense shield, Internet connection requires as the first of many steps the ordering of a DSL or cable line from Bezeq, a sinister collective, the American Bell of the Mediterranean, which exerts a stranglehold on all communications here in Israel (and in a Jewish state, that’s a lot of communications). Upon ordering your DSL line, and by “upon” I mean “between two to seven days after, provided you call and remind them every day,” Bezeq will send to your home a Russian man who reeks of cigarettes and shimmers with a faint sheen of vodka to poke around in your wall and install a router. Then the man will walk out your door, leaving in his wake only two things: the lingering odor of the central bus station, and a router to which you can connect, but which will not actually per se connect you to the Internet.

This is where your second ISP comes in. Unlike with Bezeq, this is the part where you, the consumer, actually has a fair bit of choice, with dozens of ISPs competing for the distinct privilege of, apparently, pushing the button somewhere that makes your router actually connect to the Internet. I can only assume the reason for this incomprehensible division of power is that one of those meek consumer advocate voices in Israel complained about Bezeq (incompetently) controlling EVERYTHING, so the government created the illusion of a free market by giving people the choice of the intermediary through which Bezeq will make their lives miserable.

I’m not bitter.

The practical effect of this bipartite Internet entity is that should you ever encounter a problem with your connection, which you will, both Bezeq and your ISP will insist on the phone that the other one is responsible for fixing it, leading to thrilling multi-hour phone-bouncing marathons as you wade through each company’s multiple service numbers (“I’m sorry, this is not the number which handles that kind of request”) and transfer back and forth from Bezeq to your ISP.

So it turned out that my router was broken. Bezeq sent the customary Russian to replace it, leaving me unaware of how exactly to connect to the Internet. I figured out eventually that I needed the username and password from Netvision, my ISP, but who the fuck knows things like that? I called Netvision, but they refused to give me the relevant information without the credit card number of my flatmate, which I naturally don’t have. Instructions on how to actually use the Netvision username and password to get the router to connect to the Internet, I was informed, were Bezeq’s responsibility. Bezeq, of course, claims the opposite.

If you should happen to run into me in the street and see the fresh gashes on my wrists, I promise, it’s not a compulsion, it’s just a one-time thing. Don’t call the shrink, but if you’re the yelling type, feel free to call Bezeq and Netvision.

I figure tomorrow I’ll knock my head against the wall of their customer service some more tomorrow morning, now that the flatmate has furnished me with the magic number. If I’m successful, you’ll probably see me online. If I’m not, and I don’t appear, I suggest that somebody check on me after the weekend so they can put me in the ground before the smell starts to bother the neighbors. Then again, fuck it, I hate that neighborhood.

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  • [Needed serious copy editiing]

    Yeah, Woe is you. But yes, this happens all the damn time, every day in many, many businesses across the US. Our phone systems have degraded in their reliability and functioning since 1965. Sometimes they work, other times inexplicably they do not. There’s no ryhme or reason for the failures, but most of the time you’ll be completely unaware of them. ‘Gee, Stan hasn’t it been a fairly quiet day?’ ‘Well Dave, it’s been real quiet ’cause our phones & email have been out most of the day, and I only got the word via the carrier pigeon my momma sent with a message asking me about my plans for dinner’. ‘Dave you have a Jewish momma!’ ‘Yes Stan, but other than resorting to the telegraph that she helpfully installed to her apartment last week we have no other way of communicating with the outside world, and now our Net has gone out…’. ‘Dave, does this mean we get to go home early?’

    Yeah, when it rains our net goes out. Ditto when it’s windy, or when they’re remodeling. OK that accounts for about 1/3 of the time on most weeks. How’s with you? We get complete denials when we call for tech support. Everyone in the ‘states knows to hire their own if they’re going to even chance working part time! Most of those guys are over scheduled too, so it takes about the same time here as there. So we feel for you. Cheers & Good Luck, ‘VJ’