“We are all horrible and wonderful and figuring it out.”
— Harris Wittels
LeBron James played his first ever game on national television 16 years ago today.
Last October, I was in New York City for a conference. As I finished lunch on my last day, my phone notified me that home’s internet was offline. I ran a couple of tests that confirmed the notification was correct.
We have several cameras around our house to monitor activities around our perimeter and for thieves, burglars, and other scoundrels. I fired up the camera app to see if anything had been recorded to better understand what was going on.
Our doorbell had captured a man I couldn’t identify. He briefly knocked on our door trim and then walk away.
This was very strange.
I pulled up the camera by the garage. The man proceeded to open our gate that leads to the backyard. At the top of the driveway, three ominous figures stood motionless.
The camera in the back showed the man go behind our tree where our internet box is. A moment passes, and the video stopped recording as the internet disconnected.
Frantically, I called my wife at work and told her what the videos had shown.
She viewed the videos on her phone. She got freaked out.
I called the cops back home and was connected with an officer who sounded as if he wasn’t older than 19. He arrived at our house with us on the line. Nobody was there. He surveyed the property and said nothing looked out of the ordinary. All the doors were shut. None of the windows were broken. The siren to our alarm system was quiet.
I instructed him to check out the internet box behind the tree in the backyard. He said that it looked like it’d been messed with, and then he texted us this photo:
My wife had abandoned work and pulled into the driveway just as additional officers arrived on the scene. Together, we all asked ourselves, “Why would someone come by our house, cut our internet, and then leave?”
Officer Teenager speculated that the would-be robbers cut our internet to disarm the alarm system, but they abandoned the break-in once they saw the system was still online.
Nobody had a better explanation, so we all went with that theory.
The police officers scoured the property some more for clues and to be certain they didn’t make it into the house. My wife posted our incident on our subdivision’s Facebook page to alert others and see if they had any information.
Our neighborhood sprung into action.
With no additional information and everything looking fine around the house, the cops left after a couple hours.
My wife understandably asked me to come home. I called the service that books my work travel. There were no flights available that were not outrageously expensive.
My wife and I agreed that she should spend the night at her parent’s house with the kids. She packed some suitcases and found a place to board our Pomeranian.
When I finally hung up, I was drained and looked around. I’d been so enveloped with the cord cutting issue that I hadn’t noticed I was one of the last attendees left. The vendors were busy packing away their booths, and the Javits Center staff had started vacuuming the conference hall.
I walked towards Time Square and boarded a train to head to my hotel inconveniently neighboring the Lincoln Tunnel. When I made it to my room, I collapsed on my bed mentally exhausted.
As I sometimes do to turn off my brain, I checked Facebook. This was on the thread of my neighborhood’s page:
Sheila had recommended for us to call our cable company. I dismissed the notion since they weren’t scheduled to come out, but I called them anyway because why not.
The cable company rep confirmed that nobody had been out to our house based on her records, but something about her didn’t instill confidence. I asked for her email address, and I sent her photos from the video. She again confirmed that wasn’t their people, especially since they wear the company’s name on their clothes.
We hung up.
I ventured out into Tribeca. I just wanted a quick meal since it was getting dark and I had an early flight. I wondered into a Shake Shack, and as I bite into the burger, my phone rang.
The cable company confirmed the internet cutter had been their guy.
Apparently, a line had been cut a few weeks prior, and my cable company had a subcontractor bury part of the line. In the process he’d accidentally cut our line again.
I mentioned we’d received no prior heads-up about the visit, and the guy featured in our videos had a pullover covering his company-branded shirt that would have identified him.
I told her I’d call back to discuss this more later.
After we hung up, I texted my wife.
Having not reached her parent’s house yet, she turned her car around, picked up the Pomeranian, and spent the night in our own bed (doors locked, security system armed).
For the small price of sacrificing some peace of mind, we’re currently enjoying six months of free home internet service.