The Phone Call

It was a phone call I had put off for months. A service-type call to the cable company for one of the three TV receivers in the house.  Basically, the problem was the receiver residing in the living room was a “lemon”. It was like a car tire that needed an air fill-up every 100 or so miles. When a red light lit up on the front of it, the TV signal went bye-bye. It was the only one of the three receivers giving us grief.  It had become a thorn of the household.  Most especially when my Mom and brother were watching a Texas Rangers ball game in the last inning.

I am the “tech” in the household.  I gained this position after I moved in to help my Mom after working for Uncle Sam for two dozen years.  It seems I have the “tech” gene.  Way back when the problem first happened, I dutifully studied the troubleshooting website page and wrong the battle with the red light. Electronic gadgetry is one of my consuming interests. More of an obsession since I own a herd of gadgets. If I can’t get a gadget to work, I am potentially in meltdown territory. That’s how seriously I take a misbehaving or broken gadget!

This red light wouldn’t miss making at least a weekly appearance, if not more than that. Why did I put up with it? Because of my fear of placing phone calls for service, appointments, etc. The anxiety is higher when I will be talking to a total stranger and there will be questions asked and I’ll have to answer them with little time to dish out my best answer instead of a blurred one.

The red button crossed the “red line” with me on an evening when the light came on when my Mom was watching the 10:00 news. I was ready for bed but I couldn’t rest until I got the light off and my Mom’s TV back on. I continued to work on it even after my Mom gave up and went to bed.  After winning the battle, I decided right then and there that I would stop putting the call off and place it the next morning.

During my early morning jog, I was practicing my end of the phone call conversation. I always do that before making a phone call or an upcoming meeting. Answering or asking questions in a setting where I can’t anticipate what the other person will say is like my stepping into a minefield. Before calling, I even searched on the Internet images of the cable equipment to be sure I had the correct terms. Now I’d have preferred someone else in the household place the call but there were no volunteers.

The only good thing I can say about the 40-minute phone call was I didn’t have to wait long for a human being to talk to. It went downhill from there. I can’t recall how many times I told the “red light” story. I wondered if the cable representative had cable TV herself. I told her early on I thought the receiver needed replacing. But I had to endure more questioning and being put on hold countless times before she finally came to that conclusion too.

I was hoping they would send a tech out to replace it. Instead, a new receiver would be delivered via UPS the next day. An e-mail would arrive giving set-up instructions. After the call, I told my Mom all about it. She said, “Why didn’t you just tell her that you wanted a tech to come out and replace it?”

I was the best one to describe what was wrong with the TV receiver, but she would have done a better job of cutting to the chase that the receiver was a lemon and to send a real-live tech to replace it.  PERIOD!  I suspect with my Mom’s bluntness and assertive tone, the phone call would have been less than forty minutes worth.


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