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I have had some interesting moments with repairmen over the years. Yesterday’s conversation with the Cable Guy ranks right up there among the tops.

It all started when I got up and, as is my habit, turned on the bedroom t.v. A screen of static and loud scratchy noise greeted me. Irritating. Now, to say I am  a creature of habit when it comes to my daily schedule would be an understatement. I pull my track pants on, clump downstairs where I put rubber boots on and march to the garage to fill up my birdseed buckets with food for the birds (mostly ducks) that are kicking down the back door. I am late (anything after dawn’s first light). Before I head back upstairs, I ‘prepare’ my breakfast…the same breakfast I’ve been eating for 40 years: homemade granola, an orange, and berries on the cereal.

I eat my breakfast on the floor in front of the t.v., catching up on CNN’s latest terror bulletin. Helps the food go down better…the acid churns better with an infusion of terror. Then I turn the volume up on the t.v. so I can hear it from my ensuite, run my bath and get myself dolled up for the new day. I then do exercises, again in front of the t.v. It relieves the boredom. T.V. plays a part in ‘cocktail hour’ (unless it’s good weather outside) and again for ‘nest time’ in the evening. You may be seeing by now that the t.v. is crucial to my existence. I don’t necessarily like it but it is a presence. It makes noise…different from The Pig’s snoring or Crazy D’s screaming at his computer. So a day without it is impossible.

After a day without it, I decided I wouldn’t make it through the evening. I called the Cable Company tech support for help. I had to ‘gird my loins’ for the encounter. Did I mention I hate cable companies? I almost had a glass of wine for fortitude but it’s a good thing I didn’t. After discussing the fact that I had done all the ‘trouble shooting’ moves suggested in their handy dandy fix-it book, both the rep and I concluded my magic box was pooched. What to do? “Well, you could just go to our local store and get a new one. If you have to wait for a service call, it will be some time.”

She gave me the number of the closest store to make sure they had the correct model before I went off on a wild goose chase. Good thing…they didn’t have one but the lady assured me another store close by would. Off I went — into 5 o’clock rush hour traffic. Sans wine.

As I entered the store, I explained to the nearest clerk what I needed. “Oh, certainly…I’ll just get someone to help you with that.” I was left thinking, “But what’s the matter with YOU? Or are you part of the furniture? You aren’t doing anything, you seem to have two legs, two eyeballs and (I assume) a brain, why can’t we just cut out the middle man?”

But she nabbed another clerk who found the magic box I needed. It came in a lovely packaged set with new cord and remote. A thought occurred to me so I blurted out: “Can I still use my old remote? There’s nothing wrong with it.”

She answered, making me feel like a dummy:”Oh, actually that would be easier since it’s already programmed for your t.v.” Trying not to look as stupid as I felt, I muttered, “Oh, of course!”  I really had no idea the remote was programmed. I thought, between the t.v. and magic box, there were enough things involved. See? There’s a reason I never took math and science.

I raced home, plugged the new box in, waited the requisite time for it to spring to life…and nothing. Still no magic green light. I spent a very strange evening curled up in The Nest reading a book. My eyes were tired, Mrs. Beeton was restless sitting on my shoulder without her usual ‘pictures’, and we called it a day at 9 p.m. I vowed to call the Cable Company sharp at 8 the next morning.

My good karma was working…they had an early morning cancellation so would send a minion out post haste.

He installed another new box, telling me in all confidence that this brand of magic box is inferior (translated that means it’s a piece of shit) and he has occasionally had to install three boxes until he found one that worked. Nice to know the Cable Company uses quality products.

Then I directed him outside to the box that keeps all their little cables together in one space. The top had come off ours (I claimed vandalism but they don’t need to know Crazy D had a discussion with it that involved one of his bicycles) and the repair guy installed a new one. He rang the door later to inform me that “the original box wasn’t installed properly. It wasn’t grounded so if it had been hit by lightning, everything would have gone up!” Oh, really? So nice to know that, for all these years of Playing Tornado in the basement, I should have been worried about electrocution! I’m sure Gill will demand her money back for all the hours I’ve made her sit with me, the dog, and the canaries in the basement during a tornado warning.

I wasn’t sure which life lesson to take from this. I chose to take the one that says I must have an honest face since people feel comfortable confiding in me — a phenomenon of long standing. I will never forget the rental house in California…it was a lovely place but its owner, a professor, had undertaken some ‘DIY repairs’ himself. When the water heater stopped working, I called a repair guy who informed me that the crazy professor had replaced a thermocouple improperly and the whole tank was within hours of blowing a hole in the roof…and taking us, the kids, and the dog with it. I was not impressed with the nutty professor.

Another takeaway from these experiences with things technical is that ‘you get what you pay for’. ‘Nuff said.

Well, at least tornado season is upon us so I can return my usual worries…Gill, the cold cellar awaits. The chair is ready, the blanket, the  flashlight, and Mrs. Beeton is ready with her packed bag to evacuate at a moment’s notice.