The Diaries of Someone with Terrible Wi-Fi
I can only hear the audio in metallic, robotic increments, indiscernible from the original words of the speaker on the call. I watch in horror as the lagging screenshare stops loading at all. I hold my breath, willing the audio to come back, the screen to move forward, but the exact sight I was dreading appears in front of me.
The original Zoom screen, shrunken to a small white box, loading in front of me.
I pray for it to reload quickly, but my luck decides to yield to the stronger will of my weak Wi-Fi. I have disconnected from the call.
I pick up my phone, unlock it, and put it down in realization that there’s nothing I can do with it in the current state of my internet connection.
I stare down the box informing me of my disconnection until my eyes burn. I attempt to open a new tab, but it refuses to load.
As I’m calling my friend, that dreaded glitching audio noise plays once again in my earbuds. Soon enough, it goes away, so I don’t switch from the tab of my document we’re working on to check on the status of the call. The silence extends for a little too long, so I switch tabs.
A deceivingly normal sight greets me at first. My friend is looking at the screen.
“You there?” I ask.
She makes no indication that she heard me. In fact, in the span of the forty seconds since I last visited that tab, she had not made any movement.
As I open my mouth to ask again, the screen suddenly turns black except for a small notification in the center of the screen.
Call failed. Please check your connection.
My connection, indeed, was weak. I type a message to send to my friend. When it does send five minutes later, I also finally see the slew of incoming calls being sent over that never came through.
I prepare a few blank documents for my French listening quiz. Today, my Zoom call had already needed to reconnect three times, and the quiz time was nearing. My French average needed a good test score, so all I could do was hope.
“You all have thirty seconds to prepare your documents for the te-,” her sentence was cut off with the twangy sound of Zoom’s attempt to grab ahold of my weak Wi-Fi.
I hold my breath, heart pounding in my chest, fingertips sweaty against the keyboard. I had not started reconnecting yet, and I could still see her screen. She was frozen, but there was a chance.
I plead to the router, to my laptop, to Zoom, to my Wi-Fi company, and to the gods of Wi-Fi that my Zoom call would pick itself back up.
Miraculously, the call resumes. The teacher’s voice loses its glitchy twang, the screenshare resumes at regular speed.
But most importantly, for once, my connection comes back when I need it. The teacher has just begun to read the first question.
Getting a new, functional router is like getting a touchscreen phone after using an old flip phone with a broken keypad. Suddenly, everything is easier. It’s more convenient, it’s faster, so much more can be done.
Good Wi-Fi is easy to take for granted. But after all those weeks praying to the Wi-Fi gods, holding my breath with the slightest audio glitch, or even when my friends stayed still for longer than five seconds, good Wi-Fi is a gift.