As some of you may or may not know (or care) I am getting divorced... One of the side effects of this process involves dividing up the bills and deciding who pays what. During this stage, something always happens so I suppose I should not have been surprised to come home one day to "Dad... The cable doesn't work."
"Damn Comcast... Charge me a freekin' arm and leg but they can't even keep their stuff in working condition..."
Dialing my phone...
"Welcome to Comcast Electronic Voice Mail Hell!" The cheery automated voice answers the phone.
"I will be doing everything in my automated power to make this call as frustrating and unproductive as possible. How may I ruin your day? Please listen to all the possibilities before selecting a choice as our methods of destroying your day and self esteem have increased greatly with the addition of our new automated voice mail hell."
"If you are experiencing trouble with your phone...what are you calling us on? Press one for a list of possible devices you may currently be using to make this call."
"If you are experiencing trouble with your (I know I heard a distinct giggle at this point) High Speed Cable or High Speed Cable Internet connection, Press two now for further abuse."
A voice comes on to tell me three different ways to contact this faceless entity on line. An interesting choice because I already indicated I was having trouble with the cable that provides my online service.
"To check your balance or pay your bill... please have a copy of your statement with you."
What? I am trying to find out if there is an outage in the area!
"Please enter a series of 7000 random numbers in the order I am imagining right now to verify you are still on the phone."
"I need to speak to a human being...!" I scream into the phone.
The automated voice turns decidedly evil and says "That option does not exist. By the way...one of those random numbers you punched in was your account number and I ran your records. You're about a million bucks in the red, pal, and we're cutting you off!"
The phone went dead. I dialed a new number.
"Yeah... Comcast says they discontinued our service because we haven't paid our bill. Yeah... I know you say you paid it but... Look... I'm just telling you we have no cable or Internet because we are three months behind in the bills... Uh Huh... Uh Huh... Uh Huh... but what happened to the money?"
You can guess the rest of that conversation.
Well... I need Internet for work so I call Comcast back. Turns out if you are willing to give them money they have a direct line to a human being. I spoke with a woman who was probably used to pattern the automated voice hell. She couldn't care any less about my predicament and she made it abundantly clear. I gave her my account information and paid the back bill and she tells me,
"We should have your service reconnected next Sunday."
"That's a week off! I need Internet for work!"
"Well...you should have thought of that before you got so far behind on your bill."
(By the way...she actually said that)
I thought for a moment. This is an expensive investment in a time when I have very little money.
"Hey... would it be any quicker if I only reinstall the Internet?"
"Why would you want to do that? What would you do without cable TV?"
"I really don't watch much TV and the channels I like most are streamed online anyway... How much for Internet only?"
"You know...If you want to...I can give you a special package that includes Internet, cable and a premium channel you didn't have before for about a third of what we were charging you before."
"What? How can you disconnect my service and then tell me if I want to cancel you'll lower my rates? Don't you realize it's the high rates that make it so difficult to keep up? I'm paying four bucks a gallon for gas and eating pictures of food I cut from my neighbors Sunday paper and you as well as admit you've been screwing me on my rates for the last ten years? Screw this! I want Internet only...and I only want it until I can find a competitor that I can take my business to."
Feeling incredibly self righteous, I finished the call and soon realized I was in a house with no cable or Internet connections for at least a week. The first night was weird but by the second night, my daughter had rounded up all the VHS and DVDs we've had scattered throughout the house and organized them on the coffee table. We realized many of them were still unopened. For the next week we watched all our favorite series including Scrubs and Futurama along with all our favorite movies and we kept remarking on how much better the picture quality was and how much better the show was when it wasn't edited for time or content or riddled with commercials. We watched those movies we "always intended to watch" and time passed. When the Comcast guy showed up on Sunday, he wanted to verify that a mistake had been made. He was prepared to hook up the cable as well as the Internet even though the paperwork specified Internet only.
"Nah..." I told him. "In the last week I've watched movies I had forgotten about and spent time talking to my family. I've ridden my motorcycle more often and I've noticed I feel less like I wasted a day when I fall asleep. You know... Comcast gave me a week without commercials and I found out I liked it. I need the Internet for work and I'll be glad to be able to check the weather and the local news again but I don't think I'm ever gonna have cable TV again."
He looked at me like I had just grown a third eye right in front of him. See...that's the kind of reality you can't get on TV.