Not all the good old days were better

NEMiss.news Rainy Sunday service
This was the weather on Sunday, May 17, when MaxxSouth responded to our outage report.
May 17th, 2020     General News

New Albany, MS A brief, intense thunderstorm this afternoon proved once again that the “good old days” were often better in memory than in reality.

After the first lick from the storm hit shortly after 4 p.m., internet service at our house failed. About quarter to five, I called MaxxSouth, our internet service provider (ISP), and left a message reporting the outage.

Electrical power service at our house flickered briefly, but never failed.

The storm was a weird one, more than a thousand miles long, extending about 190 degrees south/southwest from Nadeau in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to Philadelphia, Mississippi. It was several hundred miles wide in Michigan and Canada, but only 35 to 50 miles wide all the way south from Vandalia, Illinois, to Neshoba County, Mississippi.

About an hour after I called MaxxSouth, Holden McCullough and Cody McKee knocked on my front door. These two sturdy Scotch-Irishmen are service technicians with MaxxSouth. It is significant to note that it was raining — hard — when they arrived at my house.

McCullough and McKee said they thought my internet service was back up. I checked quickly. It was. They said there had been an isolated electrical power failure which had zapped my internet service until things could be reset.

I talked with Bill Mattox, manager of New Albany Lights, Gas and Water (NALGW). Bill said there had indeed been one breaker tripped by the thunderstorm. It was fixed quickly.

These few mundane facts recall how terrible the electrical power and the internet service were when we move here 20 years ago.

A few weeks after we arrived here, there was a sudden power failure, affecting most of New Albany, that lasted for hours. There had not been a thunderstorm within 500 miles. Calls to NALGW went unanswered. A longtime-New Albany resident told us we needed to get accustomed to carrying a flashlight everywhere we went. “Power fails here every time there’s a heavy dew,” he said. How right he was.

New Albany, Mississippi, had the least dependable electrical service I’d seen anywhere in at least 50 years.

We signed up with AT&T for internet service here in 2000. It was slow and unreliable. After a few years we switched to Metrocast for internet service. It, too, was slow and unreliable. We tried to tell ourselves it was better than AT&T, but probably not.

For 12 months in 2010 and 2011, I spent about half my time living in an apartment in New York City. My internet service with Time-Warner was super-fast and never failed. Each time I’d fly home to Mississippi, I’d get disgusted with how slow the internet service was. I had to hire a mean little juvenile delinquent to help me cuss out Metrocast’s horrid internet service.

Those were the “good ol’ days.”

At some point during the last ten years Metrocast was sold and the name of our ISP changed to MaxxSouth. The internet service continued pretty poor for a time. Then it started getting better. If the internet failed, I’d call MaxxSouth and they’d get it fixed, maybe after a few hours or days.

Then it got better still, and has continued to improve over the last three or four years. Maybe it has been an investment of money. Maybe it has been better leadership at MaxxSouth. Probably some of both. But today MaxxSouth had me back up literally minutes before I knew it.

As for NALGW, their service has improved beyond measure since the town fathers hired Bill Mattox to run the city-owned utility ten years ago. There’s little doubt in the minds of most people that the improvement in NALGW service is better leadership; in a word: Mattox.

Weather and other unavoidable factors will always cause service failures from time to time. They can’t be avoided. The difference is how quickly the providers respond to fix the problem.

Rain or shine, MaxxSouth and NALGW are, as Elvis’s slogan said, “TCB-Taking Care of Business.”

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