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Cablevision & the Cable Guy(s)

I never thought I’d find myself longing for the days of Time Warner Cable’s customer service—those sterling individuals who for years refused to let me switch the cable into my name from the name of a departed roommate whom I’d long since lost touch with (for the record, it’s still in his name, years after I moved out). But after two visits from Cablevision recently, those TWC days seem downright halcyon.

Cable Guy #1 showed up the morning after we’d moved, our house a maze of boxes to rival the final hide-the-Ark scene in Raiders of the LostArk. He was polite and professional as he hooked us up with the triple play: cable and a high-def DVR, phone and broadband. Then he explained he couldn’t hook up our second TV because he had another appointment to hit. He coached me on what to tell the Cablevision phone rep when I called to make another appointment: “Tell him your neighbor said he got two lines and you want it too,” he said, making me feel like I was finagling bootlegged Cinemax.

That night, we learned we couldn’t record with the DVR and watch another channel at the same time—the screen going blank every time we switched channels. With the baseball post-season and the network’s fall season, particularly Grey’s Anatomy, overlapping, that’s just not going to work. The next morning, I spoke to a technician over the phone (to Cablevision’s credit, its wait time on the phone is a split second, compared to Time Warner). The guy sent a charge to our box, then had me reboot. The screen went blank. Every channel was blank. We had no TV. We longed for the days—yesterday–when we merely couldn’t change channels while recording.

We arranged for another technician to come the next morning.

That’s when things got weird. We had stuff to do, much of it, ya know, outside the house. The sun was coming out. The baby was cranky. Blah blah blah. The guy was there for about three hours, much of that time spent staring at the screen and clicking the remote…over and over and over…like a teen on Ritalin. A day after I’d given a detailed description of our problem over the phone—WE CAN’T SWITCH CHANNELS WHILE RECORDING–then reiterated our problem with the guy in our house a few times—WE CAN’T SWITCH CHANNELS WHILE RECORDING–he got our picture back. He was set to leave, until I told reminded him of our original problem. Ya know, with the switching channels while recording.

He acted as if it was the first he’d heard of it. Us having told him about it a few times notwithstanding, he said there’s no communication between the people on the phones and the guys in the field. He set about working on the problem, which involved more staring at the screen and more clicking the remote. For like another hour.

Bile making a slow climb up my esophagus, I asked for some sort of time frame so we could perhaps salvage some of the day. He wouldn’t give me one. He picked up on my frustration and laughed. I fumed some more. I told him, “I get the sense you’re not taking this very seriously.”

He laughed again. “It’s only TV,” he responded.

The guy—who, to his credit, was actually pleasant—eventually got us halfway to home. If we wanted to switch channels while the DVR was in use, we either had to stay in high-def mode forever—which was severely distorted, with every person built like Truman Capote…you really couldn’t watch it—or stay in standard-def mode for the rest of our time here on Earth. There was no switching between.

The high-def option for our so-called high-def DVR would’ve been nice. But at that point, I just wanted the guy out of our house. And that second line, well, that can wait.

By Michael Malone