We last left our heroes, the Rabbi and the Dancer, strutting off the property in Monsey after bringing crystal-clear dial tone back to the house.
“It’s Miller Time!” I cried out, back in the truck. Fat chance, it was only one in the afternoon, but that was the spirit of things. We got lunch and brought it back to the CO to eat.
Ah, the CO. An ugly edifice, even uglier on the interior. Windowless, industrial, bleak, it often smells weird. And yet it is our haven. Our “Cheers”. Most importantly, the bathrooms are decent.
Back in the truck, we looked over our two remaining jobs. One we had visited yesterday and found it involved complicated wiring at best, and a ladder-against-pole climb at worst. The other was a straightforward jack installation. We went for the jack. It turned into a “ring no answer.” Meaning nobody was home. There were three hours left in the working day. Would that be enough to handle the other job? The ladder climb was making us both edgy.
“Let’s just do a drive by and take a look,” I suggested. So we booted up Gertrude (our GPS) and took a drive over.
If you are not familiar with the area, it is a huge Orthodox enclave, a humming hive of Hasidic activity. Men walking, constantly, here, there, everywhere. Children all about, running, biking, playing. Turbaned and hatted women pushing strollers, clustered in little groups. And I’m a fairly tolerant, non-judgemental person, you’re not going to hear any commentary on their lifestyle from me, but I do have to say that man, they drive CRAZY in there! Stop signs seem to be totally optional, they barrel on through like God is on their side. If you know where I’m coming from, I think that’s fact more than opinion.
Anyway, it’s interesting for me working in there, simply by being a woman. I tend to hang back, just to make it easier on everyone, and I keep my hat on. The men don’t make eye contact with me, and if it’s a hot day and I’m wearing short sleeves, some won’t talk to me entirely. It doesn’t bother or offend me, I have nothing to prove here. I let the Rabbi proffer his MOT status and be the ambassador, it’s fine.
So the issue Chez Stein (not their real name, I remember jobs by addresses, not names), was static on the line for nearly three months. Let me repeat that: three (3) months. All right. Fine. As much as I can, I’m keeping these blog posts opinion-free as regards the company and the warring factions. Just take it as another independent fact. Three months.
When we were out there on Tuesday, the Rabbi and I found some very odd wiring. There were two drop lines coming off the pole to the house. One was wired into the NID, but there were no wires coming out of the NID. In other words, the NID wasn’t being used. The second drop line was a two-wire, cloth insulated antique from the 1970s, and it bypassed the NID all together, went directly into the house, and was hooked up to an equally-ancient thing that couldn’t be called a “jack”, it was referred to as a “block”. The inside wiring was also attached, with about four wires crammed onto each lead. And here was the god-awful dial tone filled with static.
“Static is usually behind you,” Re-Pete had coached us earlier that morning, during a fast tutor session in the parking lot. So static at the NID, as it were, meant the static could be coming from the drop wire between the house and the pole. That meant checking the pole. That meant climbing. And an unstepped pole meant putting a ladder up against the pole. Ugh.
So we were standing around, shading our eyes from the sun and staring up at the terminal on the stand overhead, far far higher, it seemed, than the climbs we had done in training. And then the Rabbi’s phone rang: it was our garage supervisor, and he was on the way.
In the spirit of nicknaming and protecting the innocent, our supervisor will thus forth, forthwith and heretofore be known as Roy Bruce, because other women in the garage seem to think he resembles Bruce Willis but I happen to think he looks like Roy Scheider. So RB he will be. And joy of joys, he be on the way!
In the space of ten minutes, he had arrived, thrown out cones, took a look, and put all our bits and pieces of gathered information into a diagnostic picture. Basically the Rabbi and I had been spot on with what needed to be done: the block in the house had to come out, the antique drop wire would be removed, and the other, unused drop would replace it, going properly into the NID and hooking up with the inside wires on the other side of the wall. We still had to get up into the terminal to move a binding post over, but lucky for us RB was here, and full of cabin fever from sitting in the garage office most of his days. He loved to be out in the field and it showed: like it was first day of school he belted up, grabbed a ladder off his van with one arm, threw it up against the pole, tied it on in a manner we’d never seen before, and fucking SKIPPED up it like he was going up a freakin’ flight of stairs. He even managed to take a phone call while he was mucking around in the terminal. The man is an artist. Even Master Stein looked on in interest.
“Hey,” RB called down to me, and mimed rolling up his sleeves. I couldn’t figure out what he meant, I thought he was showing off his pipes or something. And hey, another independent fact, I am an arm girl and he does have nice guns, just saying. But I wasn’t sure what he was trying to get across. When he came down he joked about how the customer wouldn’t talk to me because my arms were showing; he was trying to get me to roll my sleeves up more. “I’ll take my hair down, that’ll really cause mayhem,” I said, watching him bring down the ladder extension with one tug of the rope, and throw it carelessly over his shoulder, and toss it up onto the rack on the van’s roof.
“I had such trouble with that in training,” the Rabbi remarked. “Being vertically challenged. I couldn’t reach to push it up there, I was literally on my tippy toes.”
“It happens,” RB said sympathetically. Then he looked at me. “You went to climbing school, right?”
“Yes,” I said carefully.
“You feel comfortable handling the ladders?” he asked.
“Nooooo,” I said carefully.
RB nodded. “Right answer.”
“Why’s that?” asked the Rabbi.
RB made a disgusted, dismissive noise. “I was just catching some flak for coming out here to help you guys. ‘Sue went to school, why you need to go help?’” he mimicked. “I said to them, ‘Sue weighs 100 pounds, she can’t throw around an 80-pound ladder by herself.’ Asses,” he finished. “Just letting you know, I’m keeping you two together. Neither of you has experience, but you work well together and you’re figuring out how to get it done. If you close one ticket a day, so be it.”
Back at the house, we hooked up all the wires and had Master Stein go inside to check the dial tone. He came out beaming. “Perfect, except one jack isn’t working.”
Mike went inside to put tone on that jack so RB and I could pick it up downstairs. One minor tweak and the job was done.
Done and done. We’d done it again. OK, we 90% had done it again. But it was done, and I have to say that leaving the Steins with clear dial tone after three months of static, was a pretty damn good feeling. We headed back to the garage with our heads high.