Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer


It’s almost spring. Well, it’s not actually almost spring. But we’re a lot closer to spring than we are to the start of winter, and that’s good enough for me. Cause who doesn’t love spring? Flowers. Longer days. That first sunny day where everyone drops what they’re doing to sit on the terrace. (Doesn’t anyone in Amsterdam have a real job?) It’s a time of rebirth.

The thing that needs to be reborn at my house is my WiFi. Specifically, I promised myself and my family that I would take our crappy, fades-in-and-out-like-it-was-2012, WiFi and give it the love and attention it needs to blossom into a beautiful, fast, modern, feels-like-it’s-2020 WiFi. But doing so requires calling Ziggo which is no one’s favorite one to three hours of the week.

But a promise is a promise, so one fateful day last week, with a freshly brewed cup of coffee, I called Ziggo. I went in hoping for the best, but expecting the long, unhelpful, frustrating worst. But instead I got a spring miracle in five acts. And each act is something I plan to strive for this spring and beyond.

Act I: Be Kind!
My problem: In nerdish terms, I’m paying for about 100 MB download speed, I tend to get about 20 MB and my sons and wife frequently see even worse speeds. In less nerdish terms, I get much crappier internet than I pay for. This is what I told the dude once I waded through Ziggo’s landing voice mail. I expected the classic phone guy that treats me like an idiot and has me reboot everything I’ve already rebooted. But the first thing he did? He was kind. He not only sympathized with my problem, he complimented me on my network name! You see, there are two kinds of people, those that leave the name as something like “Ziggo Nxt693Req9541pPofg” and those that change it to something fun and/or funny. Which type are you? I’m in the latter camp. And when he said, “My Rosenfeld, I have to say: ‘Deadly Malware’ is a funny name for a network,” I was tickled.

a screenshot of a cell phone


Act II: Be Helpful!
But this wasn’t just one of those compliments that replaces solving the problem. He was helpful. He did as much as he could from where he was sitting. A “full reset” and a “remote hard restart” or something like that. He also activated the 5Ghz signal (We named it “Livingroom Malware”) which had previously (and stupidly) been dormant. He told me that if still felt like 2012 WiFi a week later he would send over someone – and not just anyone. “An Engineer.” (“Oooooooooh!”) He also recommended I stop paying for a land line that I never actually use which was both crazy helpful AND the reason I’m not using his name – just in case Ziggo is like, “What, this guy gives awesome customer service but costs us money by recommending people discontinue a service they don’t actually use? He’s fired!”

Act III: Be Open to New Ideas!
At some point he said, “Do you mind if I ask: for most usage, 10 or 20 MB is fast enough download. Why do you need 100?” Well… because I pay for it. He agreed that made sense. But then I had to note that maybe what I’m paying for is satisfaction, not 100 MB per se. After all, I explained, I’m a fan of the Amsterdam documentary festival. I tend to see several documentaries in the two weeks of the festival. But sometimes you buy tickets to a stinker. Then, I believe you have to ask yourself, did I spend 15 euros to learn about Ancient Chinese Dynasties of Power… or to enjoy two hours of my life? The second one, right? So I feel once you pay for the ticket, your obligation is to leave if it sucks. Life is too short for crappy documentaries (or books or movies or conversations or essays about spring or whatever). There’s a pause. He says, “I don’t know. Sometimes I fly to London to see a football match. And even if I’m not enjoying the game I stay and watch. I paid for it.” I suggested he should think twice about that. For whatever he paid to get to London… why not enjoy London? Have a drink with your wife, see a museum or a show, lament Brexit… do something that you enjoy doing! There was a pause, and then he said he would have to think it over. He wasn’t sure… but he was open to new ideas.

Act IV: Admit When You’re Stumped!
A great ending to this story would be, “And he not only solved my WiFi problems, he also inspired me to write that one man show I keep talking about and helped me lose 5 kilos.” But that’s not quite how it went. At some point, while slightly improved, we both had to admit the WiFi was not up to 2020 standards. Maybe I was browsing the internet like it was 2015, but we both knew it wasn’t good enough. He sorted the appointment making process with an Engineer (capitalized to show respect) — who was actually here today, the day I’m writing this sentence, and who got my WiFi up to speeds I’ve only dared write about in my dream journal. I would’ve been happier not waiting until today, sure, but you got to respect someone who gives it their best shot, admits when they’re beat, and brings in someone who can solve it for realsies.

Act V: Seriously, Be Kind!
Yesterday, I find this in my mail:

graffiti on a walla close up of a piece of paper


An actual card. Like from the old days when people wrote cards. In the card was a bag of microwave popcorn and this note: “For Tamara’s Husband*: First of all, I’m sorry I forgot your name but I’m really bad at names. Please enjoy this bag of popcorn when watching a movie or documentary. And thanks for the great piece of philosophy on a Tuesday afternoon. It truly was my pleasure to assist you.” Dude thanked me for a call where he helped me!

I was and remain blown away by this simple act. I can be more than a bit cynical, but this gesture was a jolt of true kindness that will keep me feeling warm and/or fuzzy for a long while — or until the next time the internet goes out. And it was the perfect way to start the spring. As a kind of spring resolution, I’m going to re-commit to re-birthing the traits he showed on the phone and afterward: be kind, be helpful, be open to new ideas, admit when I’m stumped and be even more kind. Care to join me?

Pep Rosenfeld

PepPep Rosenfeld

As Director of Creative Content, Pep does it all: He’s a high level event host & facilitator, writer, stand-up comedian, public speaker, coach, and developer of innovative corporate programs. A co-founder of Boom Chicago, Pep’s passion is using comedy to make hard-to-communicate messages land and stick, as featured In his 2012 TED talk, ‘Fight, Flight or Make Your Opponent Laugh.’ Pep hosts events like TEDx Amsterdam, The Next Web Conference, The Nordic Business Forum, and the Spin Awards to rave reviews, and he was nominated for an Emmy for his writing on America’s long-running television show, Saturday Night Live.