Even if today’s topic weren’t a new television system at our house, I would have had to have found a way to work the name Philo T. Farnsworth into the article. That has to be one of the great names of all times: Philo T. Farnsworth. Mr. Farnsworth invented the television. Thanks a lot, Philo. Just look at the mess you made of things.
We had what I would call a minor inconvenience with our television, namely it didn’t work. Unfortunately, Steve viewed this as a disaster on the scale of the Hindenburg so he called customer service. They picked up on the third ring. A real person. It was too good to be true and certainly too good to last. This helpful person not only got our TV working over the phone, he pointed out that we could get a free upgrade to an HD receiver. Mind you, our present television was working just fine. The picture appeared, the audio came on, the nonsense poured out. TV as usual. But it takes a stronger soul than Steve Boone to resist new and improved television, not realizing new and improved is the only direction television could take. The nice man at customer service said he’d send our new receivers right out.
The second miracle (right after customer service answering the phone) was the receivers showed up in two days. Again, it was too good to be true. We ran out of miracles very soon after opening the boxes. When Steve installed the new receiver and went through the nineteen gazillion steps to reboot the television nothing happened. Well, that is not quite true. Nothing good happened. A notice came on the screen indicating the new TV system could not be activated and that we should call (cue scary movie music: da-da-DAH) customer service. Again.
It seems the new receiver was not exactly compatible with our television and while it was technically true the receivers were free, the TV company was going to charge us to send someone out to make them actually, you know, receive. This was getting more like the Hindenburg every minute.
When the technician showed up right on time I thought perhaps we had been reinstated in the granting-of-miracles department. Ha ha. This is just a little sick humor because as we all know, once those miracles turn on you there is no getting them back. The tech guy said he thought the job would take about an hour. The first thing he did was look behind one of our televisions and declare the cable we had been using was outdated. Extremely outdated. There was some question as to whether Philo T. Farnsworth himself had installed this cable in the early 1930s. What there was no doubt about, however, was that the cable was never going to work with the new receivers. I could see him revising his time estimate by many multiples.
We have seven televisions. The big ol’ boxy 60-pound kind. The kind you could use as boat anchors. They are barely modern enough to have features such as a remote with a program guide and a mute button. The nice technician man started to pull cable out of our walls and it was like a magician pulling scarves out of his sleeve. He pulled and pulled and pulled. The pile of obsolete Farnsworth-worthy cable grew and grew and grew. At this point I went out to the workshop because I thought the walls might collapse once their internal support system of ancient cable was removed.
As I walked out to the workshop I noticed Steve dismantling our satellite dish. He was taking apart the very satellite dish that gets the signal — from who knows where, another galaxy — and then relays that signal to our new receivers. Well it would relay the signal if the receivers worked. Which they didn’t.
This simply could not be good. It seems—and you just have to have seen this coming — the new receivers and the replacement cable were not compatible with the old dish. The old dish, I need not remind you, that worked just fine.
I would like to say this story has a happy ending. I would like to say that but I can’t because five and one half hours later, the technician is still here, still yanking on cable and still looking at where the old satellite dish used to be and still running up and down the basement steps trying to reconcile the new receivers with cable that is older than he is and still trying to snake the new cable through to wherever it is it goes. Also we had to dig up part of the yard.
I’m not saying too much because Steve is not in the best of moods right now. It might occur to him maybe he could get a new and improved version of me. One with a mute button.
Marla Boone resides in Covington and writes for the Troy Daily News and Piqua Daily Call.