At first, the whole idea of being a TV-free family seemed quite hip. I had visions of us sitting around at night, listening to classical music, enjoying stimulating conversation, and sipping our tea. After about a month, this vision was replaced by the reality that has taken over our evenings: running back and forth into our room to calm a baby that has decided for the sixth time that it really isn't yet bedtime. Where the classical music should be is instead the constant hum and static of the baby monitor. Instead of tea, we're sipping beer. Stimulating conversation is anything that doesn't involve the words "poop" or "spit up."
I don't know what I had envisioned for my TV-free daytime hours. I think it involved a picnic blanket, butterflies, and leisurely naps under a tree with the babies. Ticks, mosquitoes, and the "no sunblock for six months" rule put a damper on that. My days without TV started looking an awful lot like the same four walls of my living room, a perilous addiction to all things internet, and a soundtrack I like to call "looooooook at the fuzzy bunny! Seeeeee the fuzzy bunny? The fuzzy bunny's gonna get yooooooooooou!" At least TV gives the semblance of adult conversation, albeit in a totally one-sided and voyeuristic manner. But hell, I'll take it.
So on Friday I called my friends over at DirectTV for the start of what I like to call, "Mission: Just give me some damn TV already!"
I explained my predicament to the tentative customer service rep who answered. I skipped the parts about the butterflies and the beer. "Oh." She said. "You'll need to speak to somebody in programming then. Let me transfer you." I seemed to be headed in the right direction. The rep from programming picked up the line. It seems the first rep neglected to share any of my rather lengthy story explaining why I was calling. No matter. TV - beautiful, sweet TV was getting closer by the second. So I explained again. "Oh. You need to speak to someone in our re-connections department." Really? They have a specific department solely dedicated to the plight of wayward customers like myself? The rep picked up the line. "Hola. Gracias por llamar DirectTV." Small problem here. Considering that my best second language is pig latin. I apologized in a polite and somewhat embarrassed manner. Explained that I don't speak Spanish. The rep continued. In Spanish. I waited for a pause and repeated our language dilemma. He continued. In Spanish. Repeat. And again. I finally interjected with a frustrated: "I CAN'T UNDERSTAND YOU!!" "Oh." He said. He switched to English.
I now need to pause my rather lengthy story for a quick disclaimer before continuing: I respect and admire the many varied cultures and languages from around the world. I follow the instructions of the bumper sticker and Celebrate Diversity. I think we'd all be better off if we were bi- or tri-lingual. I find accents to be intriguing, mysterious, and generally cool. And wish that I had one myself, aside from the not-so-cool, "wicked awesome" New England accent that I may or may not possess.
So my third rep had switched to English. I explained why I was calling, and he responded. Only I couldn't understand him. He was speaking English, but with a healthy smattering of Spanish mixed in. What to do? At first I tried the subtle, "I'm sorry sir. Could you repeat that?" to no avail. Repeat or not, I couldn't compute. I decided that there was no reason why I couldn't get politely and delicately assertive. "I'm so, so sorry, but I am having a hard time understanding you. Is there somebody else I could speak with?" He responded with a less friendly, "No" and continued. I repeated my request. He repeated his "no," this time adding on, "I will help you, April Purinton. I will help you. Listen harder." I listened. I really did. I wanted to understand him. I did not want to call back, to speak to three more reps. I just wanted my TV back. I wanted Oprah and Ellen to be my friends again. "Please, sir. I'm trying, I really am. And I'm sorry. But I REALLY cannot understand you. Can I PLEASE speak to somebody else?" His response? "I will help you, April Purinton. Listen harder!" We went back and forth like this for several minutes. Exasperated, desperate, and on the verge of tears, I cut in: "I'm hanging up now. I'm sorry. But I'm hanging up and calling back."
And so I did.
Two calls and six transfers later, I succeeded in scheduling a re-installation of my service.
I really should also mention that the guy who came to do the install made some crack about how he "followed the banjo music" all the way into town (which I do believe is an insult toward my place of residence), and later, while using my telephone without permission, commented to his boss that "this phone really bites."
Screw it all. Mission: Just give me some damn TV already? Accomplished.