It’s funny how I got there

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 14, 2004

Like most people anywhere near my age I was thrilled when I saw my first TV set back in the forties…small black and white picture, sort of round, and by today’s standards the programming was very mild. Cleaned up would be a better word, the kids could watch without looking at us to see if what they just heard or saw was OK, or must they leave the room. Of course that TV was at a neighbor’s house; few could afford one. Then one day, using a Christmas bonus, we took the plunge and it changed, no, horsed up our lives.

As programming and technology changed, we changed, bigger and better, color, videotapes and, finally, the big step, satellite. WOW, big screen, vivid color, digital sound. And we learned that &uot;adult content&uot; meant nudity, violence, and now we could bring that and army-barrack language into our home. We didn’t know people talked like that in such a casual manner. We still wince.

In the early days of satellite if you had a question you could actually talk to a human being after waiting less than a minute, and they would stick with you until your problem was solved or question answered. No more, my friend, now it’s called &uot;hold&uot; while you listen to their commercials and music. Remember those days before &uot;menus?&uot; And you didn’t have to punch &uot;1&uot; to continue in English. But try to get the menu delivered in German or Polish, let alone Chinese.

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I had heard about &uot;cable&uot; programming but we live too far from civilization to get it. Then that cable outfit was driven out of town and Charter came on the scene to fill the gap. Of course the city of Suffolk gave them very high hurdles to jump and threatened to punish them heavily with fines. I wrote a few columns suggesting the city leave a good thing alone and finally most of the intimidation stopped. People liked their cable; even better than satellite service because it didn’t go off the air when it rained, even right in the middle of a good cowboy shoot ’em up the faces went askew and froze in time.

I thought it strange when my satellite company began offering NEW customers great deals on equipment. For free you could get up to four rooms wired so a wife, husband and two kids could watch different channels on different sets. So I asked, after waiting 21 minutes to get a live person, why an old, loyal, loving customer couldn’t get the same deal. You know the answer and when I complained they hung up. So I called the other satellite company and was on hold for half an hour.

Sure they said, we will be right out, and they were within a day or two. Yes sir, four boxes in four rooms, no charge, and free programming for a month. So why not, I asked myself, teach my provider a lesson. Minor flaw; the trees on the other side of the lake, half a mile away, were too tall and there was no signal from their satellite.

About that time Charter Cable put out a one-page flyer offering about the same deal only it gave free programming for three months. I wept. And now they were serving my area, miles from city central, no dish on the roof, they even buried the cables. The crew was on the spot as arranged, did a neat job, and was gone in two hours. The picture was perfect so I went to work removing the satellite box. It only took 16 minutes this time to find a human and with great satisfaction I used the same words uttered by wannabefirstlady, who said, &uot;shove it.&uot;

Only one problem, no easy instruction book telling me how to use the Charter remote, but I’m sure they will be back to help and bring me one. If not, where do I go from here? I called the Charter main number, 1-800 572-2328…they responded quickly agreeing to send a man out to ease my pain and I didn’t have to request English.

Darned if that cable installer didn’t sell me on the Charter Cable Internet System. They installed it, cleaned up my self created messes, and showed me how simple is not to have to dial up to get on. I’m on all the time and did away with a passel of buttons. Why didn’t I do this years ago?

You read about all of these terrorists and most of them come here illegally. They hang around with expired visas, some for as long as ten years. Compare that to Blockbuster, if you are two days late with a video those people are all over you. We should put Blockbuster in charge of immigration.

Robert Pocklington is a regular News-Herald columnist. E-mail him at