The Day The Router Went Out
My original target for a profession was to be a recording engineer. To learn how to do this I went to a technical month-long training right after high school, made a college student living by doing sound for live shows and eventually moved from Ohio to Nashville to study at Belmont College, now Belmont University. It was one of only a couple of colleges in the country to offer this line of study. However, after an enticing offer from RCA Records to go into publicity, I gave up the dream of being an engineer. Not to mention that all my engineer friends never saw the light of day and lived in windowless studios which kind of spooked me. Over the last 35 years, the technology has shifted from analog to digital and pretty much all I’m good for now is to hook up the speakers to our flat screen.
Pete was an engineer. He had all the software. (I don’t even think the word software was around when I was in engineer training.) He recorded most of his albums in his own studios. In addition to that, he took care of all of our internet issues. Cable, modems, routers, signal boosters, etc… We both worked at home, so I would shout from my office into his office/studio, “Pete, the internet isn’t working.” He’d shout back, “Hang on babe, I’ll take a look.” He’d tweak, re-boot, research, re-purchase, reinstall until everything came back online. If it was a lengthy process I would go to a coffeeshop where I could access the internet and work until Pete got it all up and running again. What a luxury for me. Even though we both worked for ourselves it was like having an in-house IT department. All problems magically solved.
Then, a couple of months ago, the router went out. Of course I didn’t know that was the problem, I just knew I couldn’t access the internet. I knew enough to call my cable provider. (Sidenote: I despise my internet provider so much that I won’t even mention them by name…but you can probably guess.) I started to panic. I was sitting at Pete’s desk in his studio. I had turned everything off and on and nothing was working. My internet was out. Which meant my phone was out and I couldn’t get online to work. I actually began to sweat. Time was ticking and it hit me that I had to solve the problem. It was a combined panic—panic that I had to get things up and running and panic that I don’t have Pete anymore. This second level of panic made things worse and my hands began to shake. I was online with “internet provider who shall not be named” for what seemed like an hour. Maybe it was. Time was suspended. Finally their analysis was, “Your router is not working anymore!” Since Pete and I insisted on buying our own equipment so as not to pay equipment rental to “internet provider who shall not be named,” I couldn’t tell them to just come over and solve by problem. I had to solve my own problem. My anxiety had been building throughout this process. Time was ticking and work was not getting done. I felt cut off. Tears started to flow. I realized I had reached an anxiety precipice.
So I smacked myself around. I lectured myself and I kicked myself in the ass and decided to get a grip. “This is where you demonstrate that you are okay and that you can take care of yourself,” I told myself. I could have given in and called an “expert” and spent a lot of money to take it off of my plate. But that’s expensive and it’s time consuming and frankly, it’s not what Pete would have done. I was an engineer for God’s sake. “Erin, you can do this now. Catch your breath and pull yourself together.” So I did. I stopped shaking, I looked at the challenge and made a game plan. I did a little research to find the router I needed, I went to a local retailer and found a knowledgeable person (rare) and he was tremendously helpful. I bought the router and then came home to undertake the next step of getting everything working again. I knew that a lot of these companies have video tutorials and offer a lot of online support. So I used everything at my disposal. I tried to stay focused on what I was doing and didn’t look at the clock. I just went step by step. After several hours of this endeavor I hit the ON button and all the components started speaking to each other. Everything was, and still is, working beautifully.
This was all a painful reminder of my new life situation, which in case I haven’t mentioned a million times already, really stinks, but it was hugely confirming that I could work through these situations as they arise and that Pete still speaks in my ear and walks me through it. And if he doesn’t, he set a good example of how to do so much that I can draw on that and inch my way through all the issues that will come and go over the years.
Have you ever had to give yourself a good talking to so as not to freak out over something?