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Commentary: Take that, Comcast

“Press ‘one’ for English.  Presione ‘dos’ para Espanol.  Press ‘three’ for heavily-accented, barely-understandable, broken English spoken by someone who is far, far away from you and safe from your soon-to-be frustration-fueled, murderous intent.”
Wearily, for the – no joke – fifth time in the last hour and a half, I mash “1” and wait for that very sinister…uh…I mean reasonable sounding robot lady at the other end of the line to take me by the hand and lead me to the first of the many levels of hell I must traverse these days just to get my cable service back.
All I wanted to do was relax for a bit and laugh at the fat guy on “Gold Rush,” but, so it seemed, Comcast was a little confused about what their promise of “On Demand” meant.
Apparently, to Comcast, “On Demand” means I can use the expensive cable and internet package they literally begged me to buy as much as I want to use it…except when I can’t.  Oh, and by the way, I’m still expected to pay for “On Demand” even though I demand to watch the fat guy on “Gold Rush” but can’t because Comcast doesn’t know how to keep their promises.
This wouldn’t be so bad if – at least when my cable service is working – I weren’t insulted every five minutes by Comcast and Xfinity commercials depicting how wonderful my life would be if only I would sign up for their services and reminding me of how stupid I was to fall for it in the first place.  It’s pretty obvious they’re spending all the profits from suckers like me to over-sell their product instead of paying gold-plated, A-one attention to the customers they already have.
Then again, maybe Comcast’s whole business model is based on knowing how many of us are addicted to having what we want when we want it - or how much of a pain-in-the-ass it would be for us to change our ways and just turn off our televisions and computers - and would rather choke on their poor customer service before admitting they’re failing at providing what they promise to provide.
Robot-lady transfers me to a very pleasant and, no doubt, hard-working person in a cubicle latitudes away from middle Tennessee, who instructs me to unplug my cable box for one minute, then plug it back in.
“I’ve already tried that…four times,” I say through gritted teeth.  “Nothing happens.  I keep getting the same error message over and over.”
“I understand your frustration,” he reads from the script in halting English, “and I will do everything I can to take care of your problem.  I will now send a signal to your cable box to run a diagnostic test.  This will take a few moments.”
I grunt, seething, and imagine the guy leaning back in his chair; studying a Sudoku puzzle. 
The out-of-body experience occurs – as they always do – with no warning and I stand a few feet away, looking at myself.   There’s a pouting/scowling look on my face as I sit there, miserable, glaring at the television with a phone glued to my ear.  Behind me, on the floor, Bear-Dog slumbers in the pool of sunshine streaming through the back-door window.  Through that window I can see blue sky and I can see ice melting off the eaves after three days of bitter cold and I can see that the bird feeders are empty.
The man speaks and I’m yanked back inside myself.
“Did that fix your problem?” he asks.
“No…uh…I don’t know,” I tell him.  “But don’t worry about it.  Everything’s fine.  Thanks.”
And then I hang up and put on my boots and open the door and carry Bear-Dog outside and lay him on the grass in the sunshine.  He grins at me.
We fill up the bird feeders and prune back some roses.  I climb on the roof and replace a shingle or two while Bear-Dog supervises from below.  The wind picks up after a while and it gets a little colder and we go inside.
I light the fire and make some tea, then lean back in my chair and open the book Tall-Boy gave me for Christmas.
Take that, Comcast.
William Carter is a longtime Franklin city employee and published 
author. He may be contacted at

Posted on: 1/22/2014


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