Sunday, December 03, 2006

The End of Life As We Know It?

Okay, I'm exaggerating, but we finally got cable TV. We had it when Dear Hubby and I lived in Virginia but when we moved back to our birth state in 1999, we didn't bother with it. No particular reason why. We were in an apartment, the kids were small (4, 2 and non-existent), we spend much of our free time at Dear Hubby's parents house. It just seemed...unnecessary.

When we moved into our house in 2001, we considered getting cable, but truth be told, we had gotten used to not having it. Plus we could always find something else on which to spend the 50 or so dollars a month. Then there was the whole having to wait at home for the cable installer to arrive. Why this would bother me, a stay-home mom, I don't know.

Our family doesn't spend that much time watching TV. When Son #3 (age 4) and I are home during the day, the TV is rarely on. I might let him watch an episode of Clifford the Big Red Dog or Dragon Tales on the small TV in my room when I'm taking a shower, but that's pretty much it, until Dear Hubby gets home. He seems to like having the TV on as 'background noise.' Personally, I think our household generates enough noise on its own so I only turn the TV on if there's something I want to watch. Without cable, the choices are pretty limited. Two really clear local stations (ABC and FOX) and a few more fuzzy (CBS, CW) or hit-or-miss stations (NBC, PBS).

The rabbit ears were letting us down, so I finally decided to call our local cable company, which interesting enough, does not have a local phone number. Go figure. Let's just say that getting cable was not as simple as one phone call. Below is a brief synopsis:

Oct. 23 - I placed my initial call to the toll-free number set up service. I'm told they'll have to do a "serviceability assessment" to see if they service my area. Whatever.

Oct. 31 - Sharona at the cable company (she's in Tacoma, WA) tells me that my 'ticket' is listed as "pending" which means they're still working on it.

Nov. 1 - After spending several minutes on hold, Randy (Minneapolis, I think) tells me that serviceability has been approved, but the details have not been entered into the system yet.

Nov. 6 - Lisa (don't know where she is) said I needed to talk with the repair dept. Before I could tell her that no, I don't, she transfers me to Ellen who says that Randy was incorrect and that this company does NOT serve my area. That's a crock and I tell her so. I explained that prior to Hurricane Katrina, the people across the street from me had cable with this company. (They switched to satellite because it took the cable company 3 months to restore service to our neighborhood.) Lisa transfers me to Ellen who suggests I visit my local cable office and gives me an address for one approximately 40 miles away. She said they didn't have a phone number on file for that office.

Nov. 8 - I speak with Kim in Kingsport, TN, who checks the log associated with my address and says that they do indeed service my area, and that apparently I need a piece of equipment installed - a "4 port, 10 tap". Since they don't have a phone number for my local cable office, she'll ask her supervisor, Lori, to email them. I'm told to call back in a few days. Do I need a direct phone number, extension, etc.? Nope, Kim says, just ask for the Kingsport Help Desk.

Nov. 16 - After not hearing back, I call speak to Isara to tells me that they do not service my area (what the ???). I ask if she can transfer me to the Kingsport Help Desk but she says she cannot without an extension number. At this point I hang up, and go door to door checking with my neighbors to see which ones have/had cable TV. There are only 11 houses on my street. The house across the street had cable, the house two doors to my right had cable, the house to my immediate left has cable. Armed with this new info, I call back.

Nov. 16 - I speak to Dante (Atlanta, I think) and tell him of my little neighborhood "survey." He pulls up my record and says that I had an "appointment" on November 9th. What??? No one told me of any appointment, nor did anyone call me (I provided my cell phone number so I could be reached no matter where I was). He says he'll 'reissue' the ticket.

Nov. 21
- I see a cable truck driving up my street. Resisting the urge to throw myself in front of it, I'm cautiously optimistic when it stops right in front of my house. The guy asks what kind of trouble am I having with my cable. Uh, getting it? He looks at my house, and the utility pole next door. Yep, they service my area (duh).

Nov. 30 - Kerry from the local office calls. The local office, by the way, is only 8 miles away,and yes, I have her local phone number stored in my cell phone now. We discuss the plan I want (Expanded basic, no premium channels). She extends the new customer discount for longer than what's generally advertised. She sets up the installation for the following day.

Dec. 1 - we finally come into the 20th Century (I say 20th, because I'm still on dialup internet).

So now, I'm wondering about the effect on our family dynamic. We're a family that usually watches TV together, or else Dear Hubby and I watch TV while the kids are off playing elsewhere in the house. I've kind of prided ourselves on being one of those families that does stuff, instead of spending hours in front of the tube. But now, there are more viewing options. Will the kids want to hang out glued to Cartoon Network like they do at their Paw Paw's house? Will Dear Hubby opt to watch the History Channel in the bedroom while I'm watching AMC in the living room? How much TV will we be watching? How much sleep will I lose now watching back to back episodes of 'Forensic Files' on A&E? Is this the end of civilization as I know it? ;-)


Lala's world said...

that is a tough one. there are times when I wish we didn't have it and times I am so grateful we do. I guess it is all about balance and finding it and keeping it! good luck and welcome!!

Sue said...

What is it with husbands and the tv having to be on as background noise? It must be a guy thing, my dh is like that too.

Dial up?! The joke around our family is that since only my dad has dial up he's probably getting on the internet as fast as we are (with the fancy cable modem) since no one else is on dial up.

Elle*Bee said...

So *he's* the one who's slowing me down, sue! (just kidding) I'm pretty much the only one who uses the computer regularly so it's usually not a big deal. The cable company offers high speed internet access, but after the hoops I had to jump through to get regular old cable TV, I declined. We'll see how the television works out before I through any more money their way.

lala, it's all about limits, I guess. I manage to set limits on their video games, etc. so hopefully I won't cave when it comes to TV.

And to my non-blogging buddy who emailed me to ask whether I'm a technophobe, the answer is no. I have (and use) a Palm Pilot, I have a cell phone (V-Cast, actually, altho' I don't watch videos). I have a digital camera (two, if you count the one on my phone that I rarely use). It's just a matter of how I want to spend my money. :-)