Round Building, Round Phone Jack

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The good news: Marina City has 1960s state-of-the-art architecture. The bad news: Marina City has 1960s state-of-the-art technology.

Why does it seem that Chicago high-rise condo associations always seem fit to contract with the worst, smallest, most customer-service-bereft cable companies? I mean, Comcast’s pricing is a rip-off, but at least you get service. Here at the corncobs, however, we have MDU.

I know, I don’t know who the heck they are either. But they’re our built-in option for high-speed Internet. We get a discount, so again, you get what you pay for. We get service outages two or three times a week (which is total fun when you’re trying to work from home, work on your blog, or talk on your VoIP phone).

So, after three Chicago years of swearing I’d never order an SBC landline (thieves that they be), I gave in and ordered SBC Yahoo DSL. Don’t worry, it’s just a naked line to enable DSL service, it’s not like I’m actually going to pay them for calls I can make more cheaply with Vonage or my cell phone.

Thing is, it seems they turned on my dial tone yesterday. But the wonderful, built-in, 1964 telephony technology that infests the walls of Marina City didn’t get the memo. It’s wonderful and all that I have like five phone jacks sprinkled around my one-room apartment. Of course, four of them are round, mid-century, what-the-heck-is-that-thing, Dick Van Dyke Show-era phone jacks.

The one modern modular plug is the one that I’ve been using to talk to the door staff downstairs (more midcentury magic, tapping into your phone line for the intercom system). I guess the ping SBC sent yesterday was too much for 41 year-old copper wires to bear. I was home when it happened. I heard a garbled ring, something akin to the sound I imagine a canary would make right before keeling over in a gas-leaking coal mine, and then nothing.

No dial tone. No intercom. No DSL. No happiness in Mudville. SBC says they’re gonna get right on it. Hmm. Where is Time Warner Cable of NYC when I finally need them?

On the other hand, the vintage, 20-foot-wide baseboard electric heater is just sweet.

Give a little to get a little, I guess.

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