GateHouse — All I wanted was cable. Silly, empty cable. All I wanted was to establish a new service, to have the cable company ship over a guy named Ray in an aging van to plug the one wire into that box thing and have that be that.
This is what I desired and believed possible, having completed this quest successfully many times over the years. Time was, this was not a terrifically difficult proposition, because cable was not a terrifically difficult thing. You called, the van rolled up, and before too long you were granted glorious ESPN and magnificent Comedy Central, and with any luck the guy neglected to flick the “Scramble Up The Cinemax” switch, which totally happened to us a couple times in college, and I don’t need to tell you made us feel basically like we were Charlie Brown and we had just kicked the living hell out of the football.
- Black Flag – TV Party
But this is no longer the case. Regular readers of this column, and hello again to my brother and the army of spambots following me on Twitter (yes I see you tiffanymayz23), I’d been off the cable train for a few years. And in my absence EVERYTHING HAS GONE COMPLETELY INSANE, and now there is the possibility of getting Glenn Beck in HD, giving you unprecedented access to his crazy, a flotilla of channels scrambling to air America’s worst recent movies (with apologies to “Mr. Woodcock”) and 75 companies competing to dangle satellites, all of which resemble aged and failing R2 units, off my house.
Regardless, I went for it. I called up the DirecTV people, who I feel comfortable naming here because we are no longer together (which I will get to in a minute), because their prices were OK and because their Web site didn’t cause me to want to pick up my computer and vault it across the room because of its FRENZIED UNREADABILITY. (Note to competing satellite provider: I couldn’t be prouder that you worked out a deal with the Black Eyed Peas, but their automatic Flash clip causes my Firefox to suffer barbaric seizures. JUST TURN OFF THE VIDEO ALREADY and tell me how many thousands of dollars you want per month for Starz.)
Maybe there are others who have had a similar experience, or maybe I have a voice that invites instant friendship on the phone (I do not, as generally if I’m on the phone too long I’ll start pressing the button that makes unearthly screaming-in-horror noises on the computer), but it became clear pretty quickly that the DirecTV guy who I ended up on the line had more or less bet his day on becoming my bro. I have literally never in my life been pursued with such singular purpose as I was by DirecTV guy; this is, I imagine, what it must be like to be a freshman girl at a frat party. And I had called to sign up for the damn thing; it’s not like there was a lot of plot tension going on in our conversation. One way or another, I was going to get off the phone having been relieved of a bunch of money but with the ability to catch “Marley and Me” on HBO like nine times a day.
Anyway, Todd or whatever began by asking me, and I’m so very quoting here, “So, like, what channels do you watch?” Which is hilarious, because here’s what I watch: “Ratatouille” 30 to 40 times a week and “Martha Speaks” on PBS, in which a dog who has consumed a bowl of alphabet soup becomes aggressively persistent about increasing the vocabulary of strangers and other, similar non-awesome things. If a balloon breaks free and goes a-drifting over the Colorado countryside, I watch that, BECAUSE IT’S THE ONLY THING ON FOR SIX HOURS.
Related, sort of
Anyway, Tucker continued by wanting to know how many TVs I have in the house, and seems personally insulted when I reveal it’s just one. He also keeps hammering me on my TV-watching habits, enough so that I believe Tucker finishes his shift at the DirecTV sweatbox, sprints to his Expedition, blazes home as quickly as he can without killing anything terribly important and commences watching hours upon hours of television until his body shuts down involuntarily. Had I been thinking, I would have come back with the Big Ten Network, the Eternal Word TV Network, Al-Jazeera and Toon Disney, but generally I can’t dream up insufferably snippy comebacks until many days later when I’m writing a column while drinking.
This went on. And on. And on. I was asked about my son’s viewing habits, what teams I followed, why in the world I would turn down a treasury of different Showtimes. Typing in my last name, all six letters of it, was surprisingly work-intensive. The entire episode took 28 minutes and 25 seconds, according to my phone and its dead battery. Also, 10 days later I learned that DirecTV is not possible at my home, due to an unfortunate overabundance of trees. The process of canceling my service was done through an impossibly uninterested woman named Sarah and took three minutes.