Along the Trail: The Re­ceiver

The Victoria Standard - - Commentary - CHUCK THOMP­SON

If this was not at least the third time, I would think it most un­usual, even weird. But as it was at least the third time, I put it down to busi­ness as usual.

For the past sev­eral weeks, some­time af­ter 9pm, our TV would kick out. Or, more ac­cu­rately, the dish flick­ered and died im­me­di­ately, not un­like a light burn­ing out. If this was the day of tube ra­dio, I would say the tube sparked and died.

The screen went blank, and then things slowly started work­ing back to nor­mal. It hap­pened off and on ev­ery night. The whole rou­tine from “poof” to reap­pear­ing took about three min­utes. The great dish pointed sky­ward but mal­func­tioned al­most ev­ery night. We’ve be­come some­what ad­dicted to Net­flix and PVR so this did not pose the prob­lem it used to. But, as a mod­er­ate lover of TV sports, I still need my oc­ca­sional night­time fix of satel­lite TV.

So step one is al­ways to call your ser­vice provider. No mat­ter how many times you call they go through the same rou­tine, not un­like a trip to the Emer­gency. Fi­nally, af­ter con­vinc­ing helper num­ber 5 that this is­sue can­not be ad­dressed over the phone, a new re­ceiver was on its way to the shady side of Hunter’s Moun­tain.

It was time for hookup and in­stall. I could feel my teeth be­gin to ache, just know­ing how in­ept and in­com­pe­tent I would be through the whole process. We de­cided to do it tag team style with the bet­ter set of ears on the phone and me on my knees tight­en­ing and screw­ing var­i­ous con­nec­tions. Putting the old re­ceiver in the box tested the lim­its of my ex­per­tise.

“How may I help you”? an­swered the friendly, if some­what heav­ily ac­cented voice. The bet­ter ears pa­tiently ex­plained that we had no sig­nal af­ter hook­ing up the new re­ceiver and no amount of tight­en­ing and screw­ing by the man on the floor was rec­ti­fy­ing the prob­lem. Then the part I hate be­gan in earnest. “Try tight­en­ing the con­nec­tions and see what hap­pens.” This was my area of ex­per­tise and I felt pretty con­fi­dent as I gazed up from the floor that I had done my part prop­erly.

Well there be­gan a long se­ries of “do this, do that, try this, try that.” This, of course, is all to avoid hav­ing to send out the techie guy who loves do­ing this stuff but costs the com­pany money. The tag team and the dis­tant techie sol­diered on, with lit­tle or no suc­cess it must be stated. As the skies dark­ened and the clock moved on well into the night, all three of us kept up a steady stream of chat­ter, all to no avail.

“It is not work­ing,” said the dis­tant voice. We had no­ticed that! “I will have to call you back.”

This is the mod­ern day ver­sion of “Don’t call me, I will call you.” He didn’t. I can’t say I was sur­prised. Maybe he wan­dered off to lunch or got a more in­ter­est­ing call like, “This is NASA, we have a prob­lem.” What­ever the prob­lem was on his end (maybe it was just lunch) we were left in satel­lite limbo for hours. It got so bad that I even rose from the hard­wood and tried to see if I could get things go­ing my­self. Need­less to say!

As the say­ing goes, “Time solves all prob­lems.” Our prob­lem got fixed af­ter many hours and many calls back and forth.

Still, we re­called wist­fully the days of hor­i­zon­tal and ver­ti­cal con­trols, vol­ume knobs and tin­sel on the rab­bit ears. Must be the price of what is now called “progress”.

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