This Has Been a Test...

By: Jason Colthorp
By: Jason Colthorp

...of the emergency interrupting service.

Monday was a good day.  I called the cable company... and was only on the phone for 5 minutes.  I didn't make an appointment.  I didn't have to wait all day for the cable guy to show up.  I just had to drive 20 minutes to Owosso (or Oh-so as the call service lady in Texas pronounced it) for what I wanted.  And that was an HD DVR.

It all started when I body slammed my 6-year old.  I'm sorry, let me back up.  A.J. and I were rough housing as we do everyday at 2:30, when I flipped her onto the couch-- the usual prelude to my running arm bar and count out.  But this time when I tossed her there was a smack.  It was her head hitting the remote control.  My heart stopped.  There was no movement.  I wasn't sure if I should do any moving or shaking until it was clear everything was OK.  Everything was not OK.

The remote was broken.

I didn't think that much of it since the only thing I cared about watching that day was the National Championship game.  But what about tomorrow?  I hopped on the horn with Charter and while waiting, I figured I'd ask about a DVR.  We have TiVo in the bedroom, but it's tricky to hook up to the digital cable with the telephone line, etc.  After a quick call I found out I could get a 6-month free trial of the DVR and I could have the box in a half hour. 

I got to Owosso and the lady behind the Charter walk-in center counter was insanely courteous.  Way too nice to work for a cable company.  I figured I'd be dealing with people who would rather light an M-80 and jam it in my shorts than provide actual guidance to using their service so I walked in with a plan to loosen them up.  I opened the door, set my old box on the counter and with a shaky voice declared, "I can't live the lie anymore.  I've been getting free cable!  (Weeping) I'm sorry, I just can't take the guilt!"  Like a good audience, the three workers all laughed.  Plan working.  The lovely lady looked up my info and was ready for me.  I had a new remote and DVR cable box in minutes. 

Now, I knew I would be installing this myself, so I had a few questions for her. Like, when I fail miserably, 'can I drive back here and get my old box so I don't miss the game that night since we were having a party?'  But she said it hooked up the same as the old box.  I asked where the phone line went.  No phone line needed.  Nice. 

I got home and hooked it up and turned the TV on and I had cable.  All the HD channels were there and everything was working perfectly.  Something had to be wrong.  When I take things apart and put them back together something is always askew.  Sure enough, something wasn't as I expected.  As I experimented with the DVR, I realized that it played back HD programs in HD. 

What you talkin' 'bout, Willis?

I had to stop and think-- was I actually going to be able to watch LOST in HD for the fist time?  Yes, I was.

So, tonight at 9 with American Idol and LOST both on, I set the DVR to record LOST as we watched the blind guy get the boot by Simon.  When it was over, I turned on LOST and sure enough it was in HD.  Then came minute 46.

"This is a test of the Emergency Alert System."

Three letters-- W-T-and you know the other one.  Who tests the system at 10:45 on a Wednesday night?  Yeah, yeah, if this was a real test people would be running for their lives and the news would be on.  Then it ends and sits on the screen for another 30 seconds.  A two-minute EAS test in the middle of primetime.  I could've killed someone at Charter.  Not the nice lady who helped me get the DVR that plays back in HD, but someone.

Now I have to rely on my Comcast friends to tell me what happened after Ben and Locke went to the temple and before Ben shot Desmond.  I'm sure something spectacular, but I guess that's what I get.  I mean come on-- every cable company experience has to come with some sort of annoying painful experience.

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