I have just returned from an alternate universe: I have just had to deal with The Cable People.
Now before I start, let me just say that I love my cable TV. I mean, where else can you see high-def duck hunters, psychotic chefs, and bloodthirsty brides-to-be, all from the comfort of your recliner? Could anything be better?
But every once in a while, the cable acts funny and needs to be repaired. This is too complicated for a simple man such as me. There are just too many wires (right).
So when this happens, I am faced with the stomach-knotting dilemma of having to call the local cable company for help. Then the fun ensues.
The phone call.
A seasoned veteran will know that you had better go to the bathroom before placing a phone call for help, because you are going to be on the line for a very long time. You can tell right away, because they start to brace you for it by telling you how important you are and then offering you the opportunity to sit back and listen to some pleasant music. In my case, I was treated to the complete box set of Myron Floren and the Polka Cats, “Polka –A-Go-Go” – four times.
Time passed. People ate, slept, went to work, had normal lives. But not me. I was still waiting.
And then it happened. The last few notes of accordion and clarinet faded, the mechanical click, click, click of being re-routed could be heard, and the line opened up.
It was at that point that a machine asked me if I was having trouble with my cable service and if I needed a bathroom break. When prompted to reply, I told it that I was fine and that I didn’t mind if my bladder ruptured as long as I could get my TV to work. I was politely informed that my system would be rebooted and should be fine in 10 minutes time. If not, I could call back and they would wake up the one human being working there and tell them to talk to me.
Guess what? It didn’t work.
I called back and this time the robot on call figured that I had earned the right to talk to a person. I guess they figured that 36 hours on hold is long enough. The lady I then spoke with told me that they would send a repair guy to my home the following morning between 10 am and noon. But a warning came with it.
I was told that I should not leave my house between now and then because they would be calling me an hour or so before hand, and if no one answered, I would go back to the end of the line and have to listen to the polka music from the start. She also warned me that they are very busy people at The Cable Company, and they didn’t like being needlessly bothered by annoying pests like me who do nothing more than pay my bill every month and hope to watch some TV in return. She warned me that I was on thin ice. I asked for permission to eat and go to the bathroom, and she said “Yes, but don’t tell anyone” or else she could get in trouble for being so lenient.
Time passed: my time and cable time, which I soon learned did not coexist on the same plane. I began to get nervous – even more nervous than usual.
I awoke early, dressed, had my breakfast and sat by my phone, afraid to leave its side. I sat and waited – and waited – and waited.
Nine o’clock came and went. No phone call. Ten o’clock came and went. No phone call. Eleven o’clock came and went. No phone call. Then, things started to get worse: I had to go to the bathroom.
I was afraid to leave the phone, but I asked myself, “What are the odds that they will call while you are in the bathroom?” I know it was silly, but I didn’t want to take the chance. So, I kept waiting until it became urgent. I relented and made my way to the bathroom. Just as I closed the door, the phone rang. It was them!
Luckily I was able to get to the phone, where a human woman greeted me, “I am calling about your appointment to have your cable repaired on Saturday,” she began.
“Um, no,” I nervously replied,”I was supposed to have it fixed today,” I explained.
At that point, the line went dead and I could hear the sound of a polka CD being placed in the CD player. I began to sweat.
“My cable has been out for 4 days and I was told it might be fixed today,” I said sheepishly.
“I have someone in the area. I’ll send them over soon,” she said.
I thanked the woman and sat by the door waiting (after a quick bathroom break). A few hours later a repairman showed up.
He took one look at my system and told me it was set up all wrong. I didn’t dare explain to him that a different repairman had set it up. I didn’t want to take the chance that he might leave and I might miss next year’s baseball season. I just kept my mouth shut and nodded at whatever he said.
He twisted a few wires, changed a few connections and muttered something about “a clerical error by the stupid people in the home office.” Still, I kept my mouth shut.
He left and I finally exhaled. I waited until his truck pulled away, and then I made sure that everything worked – and it did.
Five minutes later, another robot from The Cable Company called me to do a “customer service satisfaction survey,” but they didn’t fool me. I knew it was just their way of checking up on me to see if they would let me have cable anymore. Of course, I gave them all perfect 10’s and told them I would recommend them to all my friends
I’m not taking any chances – I don’t have enough time.