International Long Distance + Long Hold Times = Teh Suck

Leave it to my internet connection to really, truly start to suck just when I’m getting ready to leave.  The 6Mbit/1.5Mbit connection that I pay dearly for has been averaging about .75Mbit/.2Mbit for the last 6 weeks.  For the last 2 years, I’ve used Skype for all my calls back to the States.  I have a Skype-to-Go number linked to my Google Voice number, and have found this to be a particularly smooth solution.  The GV number allows me to have the same phone number no matter where I am… I either tie it to my Skype number (while I’m abroad), or my cell, a GoPhone, or a landline (domestically).  It’s a lifesaver, as my family only needs to remember one number for me.

Somewhere in June, my internet connection decided it was going to joder conmigo (to use the vernacular de aquí).  So, of course, this leaves me Skype-less during a time when I am making at least 3-4 phone calls to the U.S. a day.  And these aren’t just “Hey, how are you?” phone calls, these are long, complex calls to sort out a variety of complex issues having to do with our impending departure.  It’s difficult to have a productive conversation when the other party is only getting every third word or so.

One of the bigger issues I’ve been dealing with is the shipment of our dogs back to the U.S.  We need to send them as cargo, as they’re traveling between my wife’s and my departure dates to facilitate our trips (and because they can’t fly into our Home Leave airport due to aircraft size restrictions).  We’re using United, and their live animal courier service is called PetSafe (you FS pet owners already know this, natch).  Well, PetSafe tends to have very long hold times… no less than a half hour EVERY. SINGLE. CALL.  With Skype?  Who cares, I just mute the call, and go about my business until someone picks up, and it costs me nothing.  Direct-dial international long distance is a whole ‘nutha ballgame.

My phone bill for last month (May to June) was a full $50 more, and that was only half a month’s worth of calls.  And at least $40 of that was probably on hold with PetSafe/United.  Other culprits of long hold times: Connecticut DMV (clarification on power of attorney and Notaries Public) and Rhode Island DMV (clarification on temporary tag rules).  There were also various calls to USAA for address switching and auto insurance policy buying, Clements to whine about having to pay for the majority of my policy when I’m going to cancel it as soon as our POV arrives in the States (within 2 weeks of the policy renewing) so now I only have to pay 40% (it’s the small victories in life), and my parents for various workings-out of logistics.  My phone bill this month is going to hurt.

Otherwise, preparations are going well for pack-out (Thursday, yikes!).  We’ve organized a bunch, and gotten rid of some other things, and basically I’m feeling reasonably good about it.  There’s just a week left for me here, and while I have a lot to do, I’m finally able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Come on, Home Leave!