The Firewall Saga: Part 6

On the last episode of The Firewall Saga we met Steve – a peculiar Verizon technician who turned out not to be the “Network Specialist” we were promised. I managed to co-opt him into a crazy plan of getting the Verizon tier 2 techs to escalate my issue. Last time I saw him, he was making tomato stains on the wall of my server room. So I relocated him to the lunch area.

Now, Steve is starting to get on my nerves. He has been sitting in the lunch room for about 40 minutes, devouring pretty much everything. I think someone offered him a drink, and he eagerly cleaned out four cans of soda from the communal fridge, devoured two snack sized bags of potato chips and dipped into the basket of assorted sweets we had on the table. His ravenous appetite reminds me of Shaggy from Scoobie-Doo, that is if Shaggie was a graying gentleman in a trucker hat and with handlebar mustache.

Around the two hour mark, he finally gets connected to a live person. He hurries to the server room, logs into his laptop and begins troubleshooting. I help him plug it into the network, and give him a piece of paper with the IP address and the default gateway he needs to use. Then I grab my cell and dial Barry in case we need to do something on the firewall side. Steve is busy mumbling into his phone, and typing up a storm on his machine. Suddenly he turns to me and goes:

“Hey pal, I think this cable you gave me is not live. I can’t get out on the internet.”

I know for sure that the cable is live, because I used it to test the dummy laptop this morning. I ask him if he used the IP address I gave him. His eyes glaze over, and his expression betrays that he has not the faintest clue what I’m talking about. I attempt to explain, but I realize that everything that comes out of my mouth sounds like some abstract moon language to this guy. So I give up, and decide to let him use the dummy machine we configured. I connect it, boot it up and let him at it.

This is Steve’s browsing session in an itemized list form:

  1. He clicks on Internet Explorer
  2. He smiles as the MSN page comes up
  3. He uses the mouse to click on the search box even though it already has focus
  4. He types in ‘’ into the search box
  5. He uses mouse to click on the Search button
  6. He clicks on the first link
  7. He clicks inside of the Google search box even though it already has focus
  8. He goes “Ok, so what’s that address you want me to go to?” into his phone
  9. He types in
  10. He uses his mouse to click on the “Search” button
  11. He scrolls around the results page by using the scroll bar, completely ignoring the scroll wheel on the mouse
  12. He goes: “Ummmmm… I am not seeing that…”

I look at The Intern, and he looks at me. We are both in a state of shock, and at a complete loss of words. We just stand there for a solid minute unable to say anything. Finally he breaks the silence and whispers to me:

“Dude, what the fuck is he doing?”

The worst part is that I know exactly what he is doing. He is trying to log into the Actiontech router, that we are not using. But he is failing at it so hard, that he ought to receive some sort of award for it. I suddenly realize that Steve knows less about computers than most of my users. On its own, this would be quite an accomplishment. But the fact he is actually working as a Verizon on-site support technician makes his technological illiteracy quite ironic.

Eventually Steve’s counterpart on the other end of the line manages to explain to him how to use an address box. They contemplate the inability to bring up the Actiontech login page for a bit, and conclude it is time to power-cycle the router. Steve gets up, looks at the server rack, looks at the walls, scans the entire room and becomes confused.

“Buddy, where do you keep the Actiontech router?” he asks.

I explain we are not using it, but Steve refuses to accept that as an answer. He can’t comprehend how we could possibly connect to the internet without the router. He decides that it has to be somewhere and starts snooping around the server room. He looks behind the server rack, the tries to open the other rack next to it, all the while trying to explain to us how the device would look like. I look at The Intern and go:

“I think I have made a huge mistake…”

Steve’s exploratory search for truth brings him to the shelves where we store spare parts, cables, assorted cable control devices. It just so happens that that’s where we left the poor Actiontech router. It’s been sitting on that shelf for years now, gathering dust and acting as a paperweight. Steve spots it, yells “Aha!” and slides it from underneath all the crap that was on top, and triumphantly waves it at me. Bereft of their support, some boxes and trays that were above the forgotten router topple down, spilling wire clips, Velcro fasteners and papers all across the floor. The Intern dives in to rescue falling equipment while I just stand there staring in astonishment.

Steve makes a happy dance, as if he solved the issue. Here is the root of your problem gentlemen. Your router was not connected, and I, the great Sherlock Holmes, found it on this dusty shelf.

Steve triumphantly brings the router to where we set up the laptop, plugs it into the electric socket, then unplugs his Ethernet cable from the main switch, and connects it to the router. He types something in and goes:

“There we go!”

Apparently he finally got to the Actiontech login page. Unfortunately his happiness is short lived. I watch his smile turn into a frown as he is obviously unable to get internet connection. Him and his buddy on the phone go into this intense troubleshooting session of a router that is not connected to anything other than the laptop. After about 5 minutes of this, I interrupt them and go:

“Steve, that router is not connected to anything!”

Steve looks at me befuddled, wiggles the Ethernet cable between his laptop and the appliance: “Sure it is!”

When I try to explain, Steve just asks me to “Sit tight” and assures me that they “will get to the bottom of this”. I am not so sure of that. I think we have reached the rock bottom when Steve found the router. Now he is diligently digging himself into a hole that is getting deeper and deeper every minute.

After some more troubleshooting, Steve hangs up the phone, gets up, waves me over and goes: “Good news buddy. We figured out what was wrong with your connection.”

“Oh, really?”

Apparently Steve completely forgot that he was supposed to be a pawn in my clever ploy to get to tier 2 support to fuck off, and get network engineer on the case. Apparently he managed to resolve the issue all on his own. What a hero!

“Yep. That router…” he points at the still-disconnected device “…there is something wrong with it. The good news is, that I have a spare router in the truck. So I’m gonna go, have a smoke, grab something to eat and bring it up here.”

He gives me a friendly pat on the shoulder.

“We’ll get you all patched up, and back online in no time.”

At that point, I politely thank Steve for his help, ask him to gather up his stuff and not come back. There is just no point in continuing this charade past this point. The Intern seems to be having a blast watching this unfold, but I’m just annoyed. And it’s not really Steve’s fault. I’m sure he would do fine as a residential support tech. His cluelessness wouldn’t really hold him back that much if all he had to do was to power-cycle and/or replace appliances and crimp wires. This issue is just way above his head. In fact, it seems to be way above the head most of the on-site techs that Verizon likes to send out to their customers. The whole ordeal is just a monumental waste of my time.

Next morning I arrive at my desk, only to field an early morning call from an old friend:

“Hi, this is Bob from Verizon and I’m just doing a follow up courtesy call about your recent issue. I see here that yesterday we have sent an on-site technician to your location. He has marked the issue as resolved. I wanted to make sure that everything is working correctly and see if there is anything else we can do for you.”

Well, Bob… Since you have asked, let me tell you a story about a guy named Steve.

Next time on The Firewall Saga: the long awaited resolution.

The Firewall Saga
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14 Responses to The Firewall Saga: Part 6

  1. Rob UNITED STATES Google Chrome Windows Terminalist says:

    I’m just speechless…

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  2. Alphast NETHERLANDS Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    If it wasn’t so hilarious, I could cry for you mate…

    Reply  |  Quote
  3. Cody Loyd UNITED STATES Google Chrome Windows says:

    This most epic of tales really needs a comic book adaptation.

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  4. icebrain PORTUGAL Mozilla Firefox Linux Terminalist says:

    This was painful to read. Did he at least manage not to break anything?

    I’ve dealt with clueless technicians, but at least they had the common sense of realizing when they were in over their heads. Active ignorance like this is frightening.

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  5. Victoria UKRAINE Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    This WAS painful to read. Each time I think the level of incompetence cannot get higher, it does. Kill’em all, I say! :)

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  6. Joshua Kehn UNITED STATES Google Chrome Mac OS says:

    Wait, this has an ending? I’m waiting for you to burn down the local Verizon shop.

    Truth be told I would have just asked that they assign a new IP address and drop the non-functioning one.

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  7. Morghan UNITED STATES Safari Linux says:

    They’ll hire anyone willing to work for their offered wage. The problem is that the wage in question is not enough to hire anyone who knows what they’re doing.

    I have to say I’m with your intern on this one, that’d be great fun to watch, but then it’s not my network having the problems.

    My current ISP has a waiver on phone payments for me because their online bill pay requires software installation and after an unfortunate incident with a comoter that had been infested with Comcast software I refuse to install any of that crap on any system ever again. Even that required not paying for three months and then offering them the option to waive the fee, figure out an alternative, or give me three months service as compensation for dealing with them.

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  8. rev UNITED STATES Google Chrome Mac OS says:

    i don’t think luke knows what the word penultimate means… hehe.

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  9. Andrew Zimmerman Google Chrome Windows Terminalist says:

    Rob wrote:

    I’m just speechless…

    This should be a movie. :/

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  10. MrPete GERMANY Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    I can so see this happening!
    Luckily our company has a deal with some folks that know what they’re doing. Too bad it ends. Although that might be better for your sanity :)

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  11. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @ Cody Loyd:

    Ah, if I only was better at drawing things. I used to doodle little sloppy comic panels at the back of my notebooks in high school. Few friends got a kick out of these but I believe their appeal was limited. My hit series included adventures of a mentally retarded robin hood, and a comic about one of my friends failing to become a necromancer (he played Undead in Warhammer WFB and had an impressive black deck in MTG). My pseudo-artistic works never really moved into the digital realm – which is probably a good thing. :P

    But yeah – artists can feel free to adopt this into a comic form. :)

    @ Victoria:

    I seem to somehow attract this sort of thing. It happens wherever I go. :P

    @ Joshua Kehn:

    Actually, I wouldn’t mind that but as you have seen Verizon kept insisting the issue is on my end. Why would they give me a new IP if in their eyes the problem was with my router setup. Plus I don’t think the first-line support drones had the capability to do this.

    @ Morghan:

    Oh god. See, my solution to these sort of “installation is necessary” type things is to give them a spare laptop. Then re-image the laptop as soon as they leave.

    When I set up Comcast at my house, I just picked their “self service” option. I already had cable service so I simply bought my own modem and router, connected them, called them up and gave them the mac address. It was enough to get me online. Then again, this was many, many moons ago.

    @ rev:

    Sigh… This was intended to be the last part, but I realized I still had at least 2k words to wrap this up. So yeah, sorry for the tease but you will get at least one more part.

    @ Andrew Zimmerman:

    Unfortunately, so far I got no offers from the major studios, but maybe they are just busy this time of year.

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  12. Liudvikas LITHUANIA Google Chrome Windows Terminalist says:

    @ Luke Maciak:

    Luke, you now absolutely must find those doodles and scan and upload them.

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  13. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Google Chrome Linux Terminalist says:

    @ Liudvikas:

    Hehe, I don’t think I have them anymore. I have no clue what happened to my old notebooks. I recall ripping out some of my doodles from them to preserve them but it I haven’t the faintest clue where they went.

    I do remember the Robin Hood was obsessed with MacGyver. Every MacGyver episode was the same exact 6 panels:

    First panel would feature MacGyver and his boss. The boss would say “MacGyver, bad guys [DID SOMETHING EVIL]”. Second panel would feature a poorly drawn MacGyver pointing at some items on the floor saying “I will stop them with [ITEM A], [ITEM B] and [ITEM C]!” One of these items was usually chewing gum or a paperclip. Others varied.

    The third panel would depict McGyver throwing something assembled out of said items at the bad guys holding guns. Fourth panel would just say “Boom” or something like that. Fifth panel would show MacGyver and his boss again. Boss would say “MacGyver you saved the day agan!”. Sixth panel would just be text saying “Dun dun dun, dun dun dun, dun dun dun dun dun dun” – you know, MacGyver theme song.

    This was in every “issue” and the characters would stop fighting, or scheming to watch it. Then they would briefly discuss the episode (“OMG, this was the best one yet!”) and go back to whatever the plot was that day.

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  14. Liudvikas LITHUANIA Google Chrome Windows Terminalist says:

    @ Luke Maciak:

    You can’t just tease us like that. You must find those.

    Reply  |  Quote

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