How Bad is Unbearable?
It’s been almost five years since I bought my dream property and signed up for the same internet provider the previous owners used. I’m lazy that way. I like to ask people what works for them, as opposed to taking the time to do my own research. It felt efficient at the time, especially since alternative options seemed hard to come by.
Ironically, just a year prior, I’d been stressing about what felt like a monumental change of ditching cable and streaming my TV through the amazing fiber optic internet that had become available for my city bungalow. Change is hard, especially when you’re not tech savvy. But right on the heels of all that stress came the delight in saving a significant amount of money and learning new things.
But I digress...
Naively, it never occurred to me that relocating to a place 25 minutes from the nearest town also meant sacrificing some of the creature comforts I’d grown accustomed to in the big city. You see, in the country, some internet is delivered via satellite. Five years ago, I didn’t even know that was a thing. I also had no idea how absolutely awful satellite internet is. When I signed up for my country internet, I assumed I’d save money on TV by streaming everything, just as I learned to do in the city.
No dice. I tolerated the spinning wheel of sloth-like download (or is it upload?) until football season. Prior to that, I wasn’t even watching much TV. The first summer of country living consumed most of my attention. Then fall arrived, bringing with it fresh hopes for every Green Bay Packer fan - me included. Then, one Sunday afternoon, the unthinkable happened. Right as Aaron Rodgers dropped back to pass, the picture froze and the sloth wheel took over.
I threw a tantrum I’m embarrassed to even think about. The bad had become unbearable.
Within a week, installers for DirectTV arrived and hooked me up. In hindsight, I should have noticed the prior owners’ dish still attached to the roof when I first moved in. Now, addition to the $100/month I pay for entirely inadequate internet access, I get to pay an additional “promotional” rate of $69.99/month so I can watch the Green Bay Packers play football in real time, watch the news and the National Geographic channel. This past year, I’ve debated my need for cable TV, but the thought of the sloth wheel returning paralyzed me from making any significant moves.
I have become the sloth.
As I wrote in a prior post, poor internet served me during the pandemic when I was still working. I didn’t have sufficient bandwidth to support my camera function in meetings and it was awesome. But now that I’m participating in Zoom meetings I actually care about and have lined up several podcast interviews to promote “Crossing 51,” I feel quite differently. The last straw came when I bought a new computer and inadvertently involved Microsoft One Drive in the file transfer process. I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice to say, I quit that mission halfway through.
So…imagine my joy when I opened my mailbox a couple weeks ago to find a flyer nestled inside. It PROMISED high-speed internet at a price half of what I was paying. This time, I did my due diligence. I got on my local Nextdoor app and asked the neighbors what they used for internet. One neighbor confirmed the provider making the big promise was legit and delivered adequate internet speed for video calls.
Hooray! I spoke with a customer service rep who assured me of wonderful things ahead. I signed up for autopay. I scheduled the install.
The morning of the appointment, it all came crashing down via text:
“We’re cancelling your order because it turns out we LIED when we said we could bring high speed internet to your house and make your life markedly better.”
Okay, that’s not really how it read, but that’s how I felt reading it.
I planned this post to be about recognizing when the bad becomes the unbearable and finding the courage to change, even when it feels really hard. I created all sorts of analogies to bad relationships, bad jobs, bad circumstances - you’d have enjoyed it.
Except there’s no such change for me today.
Instead, I need to reframe the concept of unbearable. Which is another life skill that is useful, I suppose. As I sit here right now, I have no way to change my current internet situation. I guess I’ll start by reciting the Serenity Prayer every time a “network error” crosses the screen…
This whole thing was a warmup. A practice round. A dress rehearsal.
If and when faster internet arrives, I’ll be ready.
What sort of unbearable are you tolerating right now, and when will you make the change?