The Druck Report: Where were you when the ‘train hit our Internet?’

The Druck Report: Where were you when the ‘train hit our Internet?’

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John Druckenmiller, president and publisher of Hometown Headlines Inc.

Probably more than a few of us remember the Great Blackout of 1965. That’s when New York and neighboring communities on either side of the U.S./Canada line went black and people were in a mild state of panic.

Remember, that’s back in the day when TV was king – and confined to three or so basic networks – so it was THE story for a few days.

Fifty-four years later, Rome got a little bit of a taste of the Great Blackout. Let’s call it the Great Web Wipeout of 2019. As many as 2,500 local customers of Comcast (or Xfinity) lost service for much of the business day.

When did it start? We know for sure before 4 a.m. because we never received the morning log from the Floyd County Jail. When we opened up shop at 5 a.m., we immediately knew our Internet was out. A few quick checks later and we knew it wasn’t just our neighborhood. Or subdivision. Or section of town.

We shifted to Plan B by firing up the charged iPhone and launching the hot spot. It had enough juice to power our basic laptop to complete our morning posts and newscast and social media spread.

So what happened? It seems a tree came down on a Comcast wire which, in turn, didn’t survive a crossing train just off Ga. 53 and Calhoun Avenue.

The intial estimate said service would be restored by 7:30 a.m. The quickly jumped to 5:30 p.m. We gave up at 10 a.m. and headed to Panera. A cup of coffee and bagel later, we discovered Panera uses … Comcast. We updated yet again by phone and then took care of a couple of chores.

By 2 p.m, we were back in service. Others – including a techy-neighbor just up the street – was still out at 3:45 p.m. By then, we were reading about businesses coping with the delay. One was Honeymoon Bakery, which lost some of its capabilities on one of its busiest days of the year thanks to Thanksgiving. They took it in stride.

By evening, most everyone was back online. We wondered briefly what would have happened had this been “Cyber Monday,” the lurid extension of Black Friday only for digital shopping. Think of what the Great Web Wipeout would have done that day. Of course, had it happened next Monday, we’d have suspected some of those “Shop Local” folks for being behind it.

Being the conspiracy theorists we are, we suspected Monday’s outage – at our place – might have been retaliation for our satellite provider as we’re dumping them at the end of the month. We figured Alexa might have told them.

Our other thought: It was someone being forced to work Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week in search of a way to stay home with the kids. Or just to hybernate a bit before the holiday.

But we know the real culprit and we’re all back on line now. It made for great conversation at the checkout line at the ham place and in the hair shop and even at Panera as well as on social media.

Of course, the best of the comments about coping with Comcast came from numerous Facebook posts. There were a few classics and they’re included in our story on the website this morning.

But we wonder if the Great Web Wipeout story is over. You see, there was a reported after effect of the 1965 power outage. Again, those of us old enough to remember it also remember hearing about the baby boom nine months later in the Northeast.

Seriously. You can look it up on the web – if you have service. We did and, after 54 years of believing the Great Blackout Makeout, we discovered it wasn’t true.

Still, we’ll be sure to update the Great Web Wipeout in nine months – just to be sure.

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