Oct. 13 2010 10:05 AM

Don’t plan to come over here and watch commercial-free TV


It’s quite possible that my household is the last one on the planet without a DVR. I keep lobbying for one, but my pleas are met, every time, with counter arguments superior to my much weaker begging points.

I made my most recent pitch the day after fumbling for the remote during a commercial break on Monday Night Football. I had been less than graceful in my attempt to protect the delicate eyes of our 5-year-old from seeing the gun-and-bomb violence advertised during what Palin-fawning Americans insist is a family pastime. Never mind that she’s watching football, the contemporary version of gladiators. As far as I’m concerned, a knee bent in reverse might as well be a pastie-clad nipple compared with those military-recruitment ads or spots for certain video games.

“We’re not getting a DVR,” Sam said to me when I mentioned I was going to call about getting one. “We don’t need it. We don’t even watch any shows besides Mad Men, and there are only two episodes left in the season.”

“But—the insufferable Meg Whitman ads!

You know you hate her hair!” I countered, mouth agape. He wasn’t moved.

“Election season is almost over. And a DVR just means I’d have another piece of electronic equipment to figure out and manage and program. And I’d have to listen to you bitch about how it’s ‘broken’ when I acci dentally erase a show you weren’t ready for me to erase.” I shut my mouth as he continued. “And then I’ll have to call Cox when it goes wonky—because it will go wonky. You know our track record with electronics.”

He had me on this point. And then he added: “It’s not a big deal. I’ll just skip Monday Night Football from now on.”

If you felt a violent jolt last Tuesday evening shortly after dinnertime, that’s because the entire universe came to an abrupt halt as that last sentence was uttered. Apparently, my man is so staunchly in the anti- DVR camp that he’s willing to give up Monday. Night. Football.

I stood before him, arms crossed, one hip thrust forward and one eyebrow raised in my hard-earned Hope Brady impersonation (she’s still on Days of Our Lives). And then I threw in my best oh-no-you-di’unt neck-wobble when I challenged him: “Even when The Pack are playing?” I had to resist the urge to tap my foot.

He stared at me. I stared at him. There was a little twitch near his left temple. A tumbleweed blew by and it was nothing but crickets up in our house until Ruby broke the tension with the cutest little fart ever. “Excuuuuse meeee,” she said, giggling. With this diversion, I felt the debate shift in my favor. I was getting closer to that DVR by the second.

After a little pre-battle mantra chant on Thursday morning, I dialed Cox Communications—from memory. Like 363-TILT, the phone number of the first boy I ever kissed while sitting on a blue swing at Reservoir Park, 262- 1181 is with me forever. Only unlike Mike Allen, Cox isn’t cute, in that pre-pubescent, disproportionate-facial-features kind of way. And while Mike Allen’s braces didn’t lock with mine as I had worried they might, I am inextricably bound to my cable company.

You see, Sam isn’t the only one who has it on speed-dial. I call regularly to find out why our OnDemand isn’t loading or why our modem isn’t working or why our cable bill is escalating. Each time I’m forced to call, I have visions of being on the

evening news as the woman who went postal on the cable tech. It’s a good thing they’re usually based out of places like Iowa and Delaware. A flight to their offices would really diffuse the impetus to kill.

The automated lady picked up the phone and chirped directions at me. “I see you’re calling from 619….” Yeah, yeah. I entered all the digits necessary to get to the main menu, and then I pressed zero to speak to a representative. Because that’s what I wanted to do: speak to a human being. But did it get me a human being? No. Communication breakdown: “I’m sorry. I didn’t understand you. Please enter 1 for…” I felt my blood pressure rising.

Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo. I pressed zero again—and was looped around again. After the third time at this little game, I held the receiver in front of my face and yelled at the automated lady, “What part of ‘press zero to speak to a representative’ do you not understand?!?” In customer-service training manuals, this particular customer reaction is commonly known as the Belfer Method. It is completely ineffective.

I hung up and called back, starting the whole process again, only to have the automated lady say, “Due to the high volume of calls, your wait time is 11 minutes. Would you like to have someone call you back?” Why, yes, automated lady, yes I would. I selected this option by pressing the key I was told to press. I held it down extra long just so they would understand my request, and then I hung up. More than 11 minutes later, my phone rang. And, wouldn’t you know? It was the automated lady.

“Please wait for the next available operator.” Nam-Myoho-fuck-this-shit! After another few very long minutes, a human lady came to the phone. But by that time, I’d exchanged my silly mantra for vengeance. I was so pissed that I’d have been more likely to vote for Meg What’s-With-Her- Yoda-Hair Whitman than give Cox a penny toward one of their stupid DVRs.

“We don’t even watch television anyway,” I told the human lady. “It’s just another piece of equipment that won’t work properly,” I said. “So, you can just keep your crummy DVR.”

And we’ll see just how many Mondays go by before the discussion begins again.

Please send letters and commercial-free recordings of Monday Night Football to aaryn@sdcitybeat.com and editor@ sdcitybeat.com.

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