Sebastian sat near a window, enjoying a hot dog in the warmth of the sun. The day was going wonderfully so far – he was the first to get to the newspaper that was left in the break room daily (and usually gutted by noon), he'd found a quarter face up near his desk, and his hot dog was particularly good since someone had left relish in the fridge with a note inviting anyone to help themselves. At first, he hardly noticed the hurried, heavy footsteps coming in behind him – "My f–cking VPN connection is broken again! Can't you stop fiddling with the god damn network‽"

Oh man... someone's getting it good! Sebastian sat motionless, afraid to turn around and catch some residual ire from whoever the CEO was yelling at. Chewing slowly, he kept eavesdropping. "Four weeks. Four f–cking weeks my connection's been on again, off again."


"How soon can you fix it?" the CEO cried.

No answer. No nervous stammering, no "er, um..." Sebastian was feeling awkward listening, so he gathered his things and went to find a new location to finish his lunch. "Jesus! Are you even f–cking listening‽"

As Sebastian was almost out of the room, the CEO barked an even more agitated "where the f–ck are you going, Sebastian‽"

Sebastian's face changed to a bright shade of red that matched the CEO's, though for a different reason. Crap, he thought, he'd been talking to me the whole time! When he spun around, he saw that the break room was empty save for him and the CEO. "Er, um..." Sebastian stammered, "the who is what now?" An eloquent recovery for over thirty seconds of ignoring the CEO's yelling.

Sebastian was then treated to a chronicling of his incompetence, with his CEO as the narrator, after which he was left to do his work.

Sebastian's first stop after finishing his hot dog was to check out their Netviewer system to remote into the CEO's home computer. Not only could he not remote in, he couldn't get any response. Surprising, because Sebastian had been the one to set up the hardware at his CEO's house in the first place. He'd even put the equipment in a locked box in the attic to prevent, say, the CEO from messing with it. It was off in a dusty corner of the attic where the power cords should've been safe from being accidentally unplugged. Despite his CEO's opinion, Sebastian was a very competent IT Tech, and had taken all of these things into consideration when setting it up.

Field Trip

Looks like I'm driving out there, he thought. He stopped by his CEO's office, was treated to thirty more seconds of verbal abuse, given the keys, and sent on his way. 45 minutes later, he was at the front door. Supposedly no one would be home, but it would have been some wonderful icing on the cake if he'd witnessed some soap opera-esque drama unfolding between the CEO's wife and the pool boy while he was there. No such luck, though.

Sebastian plugged his laptop into the network in the CEO's study and got started.

  • Network cable present? Check – still there.
  • Company router? Check – working.
  • DSL sync? Nope – strange.
  • Internet access working? Check – WTF?

How can the internet access work when the DSL modem has no sync? And how can the VPN fail when the internet works? Sebastian traced all of the cables and studied everything, but had no success. When he tried to call the CEO from the house line, he couldn't even get a dial tone. Even Sebastian's cell phone couldn't get a signal, despite the signal being at full strength. I'm going to die here, aren't I? he thought to himself.

Feeling defeated, he took a moment to gaze out the window and think, when he noticed four big trucks down the street, sporting a massive collection of cables sticking out of the ground and what was apparently an adjoining cable distribution point.

Great. I've been yelled at, accidentally ignored my boss, gotten yelled at some more, had my lunch cut short, driven forty five minutes, and all because the phone company broke something. Sebastian walked down the street, hoping for an ETA for when their work would be done.

The repairman, clearly busy and annoyed at the interruption, said "someone broke into the store across the street last night. Went to town with an axe on this local telephone and DSL exchange to prevent the store's alarm signal from reaching out."

Sebastian's problem was solved. Or, rather, it would be, once the techs on the scene got everything sorted out.

Still, Sebastian was feeling troubled. Am I going crazy? he pondered on the walk back to the CEO's house. He was 99% sure that he'd been able to reach the internet from his computer. In the CEO's study, he confirmed it again. Sebastian couldn't let this stand. He dug a little deeper, found the reason, and then spent a few minutes laughing like a crazy person.

Mystery Solved

The CEO had ordered digital cable TV about four weeks prior. He had a tendency to not just opt for basic subscriptions for things, but the everything-plus-free-football-phone packages; in this case he got the cable TV and internet access, which included a router and other equipment. Not knowing what to do with it, he just shoved it all behind the TV, leaving it to be forgotten under the layers of cables from wall outlets, DVD players, speaker systems, and what have you. And since it had so many pretty brightly colored ports, he just plugged it into the network cable that Sebastian had left there just in case there would be a future installation. The router's DHCP server was active, and by chance, one of the two routers (either the one from the cable company or the one Sebastian had set up) would offer the computers upstairs an IP address on slightly different subnets. Don't you just love race conditions?

Sebastian's hatred for strange coincidences is only outweighed by his hatred for people fiddling with his installations.

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