Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Beep-boop-boop, my ass

When I get up in the morning, I sometimes turn on the television for ambient noise while I'm getting ready for work. This morning though, my TV was stuck on channel 61 which was showing an infomercial for the mattresses that you can set a glass of wine on while jumping up and down without spilling the wine. I went to change the channel to ESPN and got a message telling me I was recording this thing and if I changed the channel, the recording would be cancelled. Well, ok. I'm pretty sure I didn't record this infomercial but I'm sure I'm ok with cancelling it now, thanks for the heads-up. But that apparently wasn't good enough because the channel refused to change. The only buttons on the remote that got any response were the volume control and the on/off button. Everything else either brought back the warning message or nothing at all. After three or four minutes of this I called the cable people to tell them my TV, cable box and remote control were apparently posessed and working in evil concert to make me buy a jumpy no-spill mattress. The cable company has one of those automatic voice systems that (after verifying my first and last names, phone number and address...with zip code) lets you answer questions posed by a soothing, and slightly seductive sounding, female voice:
"If you are interested in speaking to a salesperson say 'sales'". If you've ever wondered what a masochist is, it's anybody who would put themselves through all that just for the priviledge of talking to a salesman.
"If you're having trouble with your internet service, say 'internet'". Ok, I get it. I have a problem with my cable, so I don't wait for the next prompt and say "Cable!". Well, apparently I should have listened to the prompt to find out that the code word for cable trouble is 'pepperoni' or 'mustang' because it isn't 'cable'.
"You're having trouble with your internet. Is that correct?" What?! No! I'm having cable problems, TV problems. The TV is stuck on mattressvision! "I'm sorry. I don't understand". There should be a feature installed in these systems that when this happens, and it always does, if you scream as loud as you can into your phone, the president of the company's personal phone rings. I don't know, but I think that would speed things up. The computer lady had me try several pre-programmed troubleshooting measures, and every time I'd respond I'd hear this beep-beep-boop-boop-beep-beep-boop noise, as though I was somehow jacked into the Matrix. I guess they do this to intimidate stupid people into thinking that technology is trying to help them but to no avail so maybe they should give up: "It's hopeless, honey. I can hear the nanorobots running around in the phone lines but it just isn't working. We'll never see Grey's Anatomy again!" However, my resolve is a little stronger than that so eventually I reached a female human being who began every sentence with an apology; "I'm sorry for your trouble, did you push the X button", "I apologize for the inconvenience, do you have the serial number of the remote handy?". I got the impression that if I had asked her what her favorite food was she'd have said "I regret to inform you that I'm partial to baked chicken". Nothing worked, including being put on hold twice so she finally said "Well, maybe you should just unplug the cable box and plug it back in again".
That worked. Of course it did. Funny thing is that was actually on my list of things to consider trying before I even called and wasted 20 minutes of my life. Right after 'Kick it' and 'Punch it' and right before 'Throw it out the window'.
The lesson is clear, though; when things look their bleakest, you can always pull the plug.

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