The new dance the Rat is shimmying to is the ISDN shuttle

The Rat finally discovered what ISDN really stands for: Idiots Support Dis
Network. Even the cynical Cyberrodent wasn't prepared for the high-quality entertainment
that getting a basic Integrated Services Digital Network connection up and running would

It began when the Rat seeded his department head's brain with the idea of letting some
members of the tech staff work remotely on occasion. No doubt sensing an opportunity to
ease his supervisory burden, the Rat's manager agreed--and designated the whiskered one as
the ... er, guinea pig.

Unfortunately, the Rat couldn't order FTS 2000 services at his burrow. So he turned to
the local telco to get basic-rate ISDN installed. All went smoothly until he tried to
connect his router to the office network. Unbeknownst to the furry one, he had just become
a contestant in an ISDN game show called ""Guess That SPID!''

SPIDs, or service profile identifiers, are the numbers that tell the switch who you
are. The technician who installed the Rat's ISDN lines didn't leave the work order sheet
(with the SPID) behind. So when it came time to configure his router, the Rat had to call
the telco to find out what it was.

That was on a weekend (when all rats do most of their dirty work), so the whiskered one
could reach only the repair number. ""Let me check and see if we have any ISDN
people here,'' said the repair dispatcher. Several minutes later, the duty ISDN person
came on and asked for the circuit number.

""I've got my ISDN phone number,'' replied the router rodent.

""No, I need your circuit number. That would be on the work order ,'' came
the reply.

Well, really. If the Rat had the work order, he wouldn't be calling. The technician
reluctantly accepted the ISDN phone number that the Rat read straight off the Magic Marker
notation on his wall jack. It was then that he learned the installer had written down the
wrong number.

""That doesn't check out as being at your address,'' said the ISDN

"What number does check out as being at my address?'' queried the Rat.

""I can't check by address. You'll have to call the business office on
Monday. ''

Cursing databases not cross-indexed by address, the Rat waited until Monday and called
the business office where he had ordered ISDN. He was forwarded to an ISDN
""consultant'' who gave him an allegedly correct phone number and SPID.

That evening, after returning to his burrow, the Rat once again tried to configure his
router. ""Check switch type and SPID,'' blinked the console as it again failed
to connect. He checked them. He called 611 again, this time getting the evening repair

""You'll need to call Sentry-2,'' said the operator, who forwarded him again.
Not having a clue who Sentry-2 was, the Rat meekly waited for and got another SPID, which
only remotely resembled the one he had just tried. That didn't work either.

He called again and was told someone would get back to him by 1 p.m. the next day. At
12:59, the burrow's doorbell rang. A phone company repairman stood at the threshold and
said, ""I just got dispatched. ISDN? I don't have any ISDN test equipment with

When asked for the Rat's SPID and switch type, the repairman broke into his
not-my-department shuffle and advised, "" I could call someone at the main
office, but they're at lunch right now, and I won't be able to reach them, and I don't
have any test equipment with me because I didn't have any ISDN jobs today, until 10
minutes ago, so I won't be able to do anything until at least 3:30.''

The Rat, weary from all the sidestepping, banished the repairman and called the
business office again. Which was when he found out that they'd given him the wrong ISDN
number to begin with.

And people wonder why ISDN isn't popular yet, mused the Rat as he finally got his
router connected.

The Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad
packets in cyberspace. E-mail him at


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