Learning through Laughter

Bob Owen, Humorist

I’ve achieved!  I now have lived long enough to be someone’s base line – the very guide by which others are judged.  I would like to be able to say it’s an honor.  It is not.   

As a young father, I could fix things. Some things.  My wife bought a book, “How Appliances Work in your Home and How to Fix Them.”  I repaired washers and dryers and certain parts of cars.  I have some minor use around the house. 

Then along came technology.  I love it.  BUT I am totally confused, dumber than a fence post when it comes hooking up some equipment.  I’m sure my 4-year-old grandson would have no trouble.  Yet, he’s hard to schedule.

I went to the cable company for a DVR – a digital video recorder. They can tape any show, do instant replays during live shows, and more. I got the unit yesterday and already have the service department on speed dial.

The lady said all I had to do is hook up two wires.  I rolled my eyes at her.  “Once it’s hooked up, call our service department and have them activate your unit,” she said.

A friend had connected our TV with the previous cable box, VCR and DVD units.  There were wires everywhere.  I knew certainly that one wire would be the cable coming from the wall.  I made an educated guess by finding another wire that fit one of the holes in the back of the cable box.  I turned on the TV.  Of course there was nothing.  I called service.

“I need to activate my new unit, and it won’t work.”

“Sir, do you have a picture on the TV?” 

“No,” I replied. 

“What channel does your TV need to be on?”

“I don’t know,” I laughed.

“What kind of cables do you have?”

Did he mean color?  Size?  Names?  “What are my options?”

He sighed.  “What do they look like?”

I described them and he said, “Your TV needs to be on channel 4.”

Later, he directed me to the remote.  I couldn’t find the button he wanted me to push.  There are itty bitty light blue buttons and ittier bittier yellow words in them.  He expected 61-year-old eyes to read them.  Wasn’t going to happen.

One confusion led to another until finally we got a picture.  Then we proceeded to my questions about recording and why it wasn’t doing what the manual said it would.

Thirty minutes later, we were through and the service man said, “Mr. Owen, thank you for calling our service department.”  I’ve heard insincere before. He was insincere. 

When I hung up, I realized what he had not done.  Any time you talk to service tech folks and ask dumb questions, they always – always – always say, “don’t worry about it, you’re not as bad as some people.” 

This man didn’t say that.  It hit me.  I am “some people.”  I am that man’s base line for an ignorant customer. 

Enough about that.  I need to go wire my house for electricity.

Date of Blog Story: 
May 15, 2008

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