I am wondering about all of the families and friends who settled in Christmas Eve to sit back, relax, and share a holiday movie but nothing was available for streaming. I hope they at least had cable.
In case you haven’t heard, a big chunk of providers, including Netflix, relies on the servers of Amazon’s Web Service, better known as AWS, and that service happened to have a meltdown on Christmas Eve.
According to the Wall Street Journal article, Amazon’s Snafu Rattles Customers, “Millions of Netflix customers from Canada to Brazil were unable to stream video on Christmas Eve after technical issues in Amazon’s servers in Northern Virginia felled service from Dec. 24 through the following morning.” No explanation has yet been provided.
The plot thickens too. During the meltdown, the social networks were “abuzz with speculation about why Amazon’s competing Prime streaming movie service was still functioning.”
So, Amazon has some ‘splainin’ to do and some technology to tend to. In the meantime, I am using this opportunity create a kind of cautionary tale. Hence, the photo of the ring.
I have had this little piece of costume jewelry since high school, when I worked at an appliance store. One of my jobs there was to take service calls. One night, a woman called in an absolute panic. “Help me,” she said, “please help me.”
“Yes, ma’am, what can we do for you?” I asked.
“I just realized my television is out, and my husband will be home soon, and I’m just terrified.”
“Terrified?” I asked her. I had heard of husbands going ballistic over things but of a television not working? Being “terrified” seemed a bit of an overstatement.
“Not terrified of him,” she said. “I’m terrified that we’ll discover we don’t have anything to talk about. We always have the tv on. Is there someone who can come over now? Right now? Please?”
Coming from a family of non-stop talkers, I didn’t appreciate that urgent gravity of her situation, but I could sense in her voice that she was indeed terrified.
“Here’s the thing,” I told her. “We do have a technician available for a house call tonight.”
“I’ll pay anything…anything!” she promised.
“Well, before I set something up, I have to ask you to do something for me,” I told her, feeling as if I needed to use a quiet and calm therapist voice. “You have to check the plug.”
“The plug?” she asked, sounding annoyed.
“Yes. The plug.” I hadn’t worked at the appliance store for long, but we did have a protocol. “Before we can arrange any service call, I have to ask customers to check the plug. Ninety percent of the time, it turns out that the only problem is that the plug is pulled out.” There was silence on the other end of the line. “Really. It’s true,” I said. “Do me a favor and go see. I’ll hold.”
After just a few moments, the woman came back ont the line. “God bless you,” she said. “That’s all it was. The plug was pulled out, just a little. It must have happened today when I was cleaning. God bless you. God bless you.”
I was glad to have helped. I shared the story with my co-workers. They all laughed. “Dummy,” said the television repairman working in the backroom.
That next morning, which was a Saturday, a woman came into the store. She was young, blonde, and perky. She came right up to the service counter where I sat. “Are you the girl who helped me last night? Who told me to plug in my tv set?”
I nodded. Yes, I was that girl, one and the same.
“Well, God bless you. Thank you for saving my marriage.” She held out her hand and showed me a ring with a shining purple stone. “I make jewelry,” she said, “and I want to give you this as a token of my undying appreciation. You really saved my marriage.” She pressed the ring in my palm, gave my hand a hard squeeze, and walked out the door.
I don’t know why I’ve kept that ring all these years, but when I come across it in a drawer full of old costume jewelry, I always remember that bride and her sheer panic. I hope that she and her husband learned how to have a conversation.
When I read of the streaming outage on Christmas Eve, I wondered if there were any families or friends or couples out there who were thrown into a sudden panic that they didn’t have the streaming service they were expecting.
The cautionary tale here is that it’s important to have a backup plan…like an emergency stash of DVDs to help you ride out future glitches with streaming technology. And just in case, remember to check the plug.