Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Phone Jack in My Apartment, not included

Problem solved!, originally uploaded by HOARY HEAD.

Due to the fact that none of my neighbors with unsecured wifi decided to be online last night, this post comes to you a little later than planned.

As you might have guessed from the paragraph above, I don’t have internet service at home. And yes, I’ve been one of those people, using the open Wifi connections from my nice neighbors, whether they’re in my building or the one across the street, to check my email and blog an occasional post from home. Hey, they’re either leaving it open on purpose to share, or don’t know enough to password protect it. I always assume it’s the former, because in this day and age, gheesh, securing your networks are one of those no brainer types of things.

However, I finally reached the point where I need a constant, stable, connection that runs faster than 11 kbps. Yes, you read that right. 11.

You see, I have grand plans for my site, and lots of cool stuff to design, upload, and give away for free. But it requires a connection of my own.

So like any self-respecting paper-pusher, I researched my options for the cheapest connection possible. Yes, I even looked up free-wifi spots in the City. But unfortunately, most of them are in mid-town and below. And no, I don’t want to haul my laptop out 100+ blocks at 11:00 pm to check my email or blog a new post. Let alone, the thought of me and my 20” iMac G5 sitting on a bench in Bryant Park. Can you picture it? I thought not.

I looked at cable options, they want you to buy the TV, phone, and internet combo for $100/month. Um, no thanks. I haven’t used a land line as my primary phone since 2002. And haven’t plugged a phone in the wall since 2004. Besides, I don’t need cable tv. As an aspiring author, the time suck that happens when I sit in front of that beautiful glowing screen is impressive. Whole weeks disappear at a time, unaccounted for. I think it’s a conspiracy.

So, no. No TV, no need for a land line, so I don’t need my internet provider to be cable.

And then I found Verizon. If I signed up online, I could get DSL in my apartment for $25/month without local phone service. It was perfect, sign me up, I want it now.

I opted for the free DSL router. If I ever decide to get wifi, I’ll invest in a wireless router later. (And yes I’ll share, and yes I’ll block people that hog my bandwidth, and yes I’ll permanently block people who watch porn over my network. It’s my bandwidth, I’ll share, but only a little. The phone company won’t like me, but tough.)

I scoffed at the $199 option to have a phone tech come to my apartment to check my lines, and run a line to wherever I wanted my computer. Being pretty handy, I decided that if I wanted my computer connection in a different room, then I’d just buy a 25 foot phone cable and run it there myself. So I clicked, no thanks.

A warning box popped up. Was I sure that I didn’t want someone to come? And second, was I sure that I had a phone jack?

I know where the cable wires run in my apartment. I’ve seen them in my bedroom, and how they run through my kitchen to the front room. So I knew the phone line couldn’t be too far away.

I clicked yes I’m sure. And another prompt come up announcing that if I changed my mind and had a tech come to my place, a fee would be assessed later.

I laughed, clicked okay, and continued my merry way through the rest of the contract.

I should have known better.

As a writer, couldn’t I have seen the foreshadowing? Why the multiple notices and offers to come check the phone line in my apartment? Why the exorbitant charge?

But now I know. Not having a phone jack in your NYC apartment must be a lot more common that I thought.

When I saw Spiderman 3 a few weeks ago, I thought it was quaint when Peter Parker called Mary Jane from the payphone in his hallway. I remember thinking, are there really places still like that?

No, my apartment isn’t as bad as Peter’s. It is at least two times better, the layered paint is there, the bowing lathe and plaster walls, the smells of old building, but it’s larger, my door opens quite easily, and with the two dead bolts I installed myself, quite safe. (Yes they work.)

But both Peter and I have no phone. I searched high and low, along baseboards, and through cupboards. In the back of my mind I knew it must be there, that I’d find it eventually. How could I have missed something so simple? Maybe it’s behind my bed, and even though I’ve already moved the bookcase in my front room, I feel the urge move it again.

How is it I wonder that an apartment could make it to 2007, and antiquated as they are now, still not have a phone line installed? I think the line should have been installed in the 50’s at least. Right?

So a few NYC rental questions for you all you ‘in the know’ out there. If there is no phone jack in my apartment, is it legal? Is my landlord required to have one installed? And I suppose more to the point, who should pay for it? Me or my landlord.

On a side note, I saw my Super this morning on my way to work. I asked him in passing, “If I were to have a phone jack in my apartment, where would it be?” He suggested the front hall closet, and said he would check with the management. The hall closet. I never would have thought about that.

Tonight, when I get home, I’ll be going through all my closets. Particularly the one in the entry way, the one I haven’t opened since I sealed it shut.

Why did I seal it shut? Well, because it sucks all the smoke from the inscent burning lover that lives below me and sends it up to mine. Sans scent, aka smoke only.

And why does my super not know where the phone lines are? Well, I think he only uses a cell phone like me.

Welcome to the 21st Century, caught between the old and the new, moving forward one jerky step at a time, while trying to save a buck.


Update 6/28/07: I found a phone jack in my front hallway, now I just need to see if it works. Cross your fingers for me.


  1. That's hysterical. :)

    DW and I were up at 207, getting low low prices on at (y)our local Inwood Pathmark yesterday. Our traditional beef-patty-stop-shop has been replaced with a Jimbos. >sigh< Just one more sign of this city's cannibalistic tendencies...

  2. Hope you had a nice trip.

    I passed Chirping Chicken the other day on my way down to Lincoln Center and I thought of you guys too.

  3. Methinks this post has been greatly revised, so I'll post more. I'd check inside closets, or you might try calling verizon and asking if there's ever been a phone line there before. Check for a small hole drilled near the (building's) front bank of windows for any trace of a line. You could also ask the person below or above you (assuming the same apt layout), but that would assume you know your neighbors better than I have in any of my apartments over the past 10 years. :)

    You could also try the wireless card route (like a cellphone modem for your computer), but that'd be most beneficial for a laptop.

    Either way, good luck -- verizon isn't the fastest, but it's the best for cost, IMO. It's served me well all this time, and it never goes down like cable. :)

  4. Thanks for you tips!!

    I fortunately found the jack in my front hallway. A tiny section of the baseboard that I overlooked thanks to the small bit of remainding stuff the previous tenant left behind...Must take the res of it to the trash this weekend.

    And right now, I'm home, connected to my own service so success! :)