Is there a Groundhog in the Cable Box? - B.T. Polcari

Is there a Groundhog in the Cable Box?

Groundhog Day is observed every February 2 in both the United States and Canada, with the most famous ceremony being held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania with good ‘ole Punxsutawney Phil. We all know the tradition. If Phil sees his shadow, it’s six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t, it means there will be an early spring.

However, for me, and I suspect others, I also equate Groundhog Day with being caught in a seemingly never-ending loop of craziness until something happens and you can break the cycle. That, of course, is courtesy of the well-known movie Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray.

As I thought about this movie and the hilarity of Bill Murray being caught in a day that repeated itself just for him, it got me thinking about my friend, “Leslie.” If you’ve been reading my posts, you might remember the post, 3 Cables and You’re Done.” If not, this post was all about my friend, Leslie, and her hilarious runaround with her cable provider. What was not stated in the post was that before I left her house that day, after all the rigmarole we went through, I strongly recommended to her to cut ties with them and sign up with my carrier because they were excellent. She said, “Nah, that’s okay. I know I should, but I won’t.”

Famous last words.

So why does Groundhog Day remind me of Leslie? It’s because of what has happened to her since that infamous day. That’s right, she’s been caught in her own technological Groundhog Day, an endless loop of hilarious runarounds with her cable provider, plus a little microwave hilarity thrown in by the Universe as a freebie (more on that in another post).

Leslie’s Groundhog Day began a few months back with her cable provider saga that I wrote about. On that day, Leslie battled an automated answering system as she fought to get a human being from technical support on the phone. Eventually she was able to backdoor the system and talk with a technician. After two hours with the person, there was still no resolution. Days later, technicians came to her house and determined the problem was with their equipment on the outside of her house.

Although her immediate cable problem was resolved, that was just the beginning. When she received her cable bill the following month, the company charged her $70 for that two-hour call. For a problem that was on their end. Feisty Leslie took a deep breath, called technical support, and began the dance with the automated answering system. After thirty minutes, and two disconnects, they waived the $70 fee. Pretty big of them. Sarcasm evident.

Ah, but there’s more. Remember, this is Leslie’s Groundhog Day.

Two weeks ago, she was watching an NFL divisional playoff game. Leslie is quite the sports enthusiast and football is important to her. When the game ended, she wanted to switch channels to watch the next playoff game. But for some reason, her TV was locked up.

She poured herself a drink, called her cable provider, and began the dance with the automated answering system. Again. Eventually she got somebody from technical support on the phone. He sent a signal to her cable box and if nothing happened after ten minutes, she was to call back. The signal came through but it didn’t work. The TV remained locked.

Leslie put on her dancing shoes, made the call, and eventually got a technician on the phone. He was very upset about the problem she was having and vowed he would solve it. He did some technical things and then had Leslie do some not-so-technical things. And lo and behold, he got the TV working.

But now he needed Leslie to reprogram the cable provider’s remote. This was scary because Leslie, while I love her dearly, is not remotely (😉) close to being technologically proficient. He tells her, “Push the A and D buttons and hold them down. Now push 9.” Yadda yadda yadda. But amazingly, it worked.

Maybe Leslie has some tech skills? Doubt it. I say she just got lucky and found a guy at the company who was reasonably competent.

Fast forward to two nights ago. It’s around 8:00 and Leslie is watching TV. She doesn’t like the show so she wants to change the channel. Nope, not gonna happen. The TV was locked up again. And now a message appeared saying the problem can’t be fixed because her internet connection wasn’t working. Funny thing about that – her internet service wasn’t through the cable provider, meaning her TV and cable box were not connected to the internet. They were connected by—a cable. Go figure.

And I thought untangling yarn was rough.

Leslie starts the phone dance. By now she has become quite adept at circumventing the automated answering system and she gets a technician on the phone. The girl is so sorry, does a few things, and the TV starts working again. Amazing. Leslie hangs up.

One minute later, the TV locks up. Leslie does the phone dance and gets a technician, who promptly says it’s her remote. Leslie tells her the remote was new. The tech gives her some high-level technical advice—change the batteries. She does. It doesn’t. As in work.

The tech insists it’s the remote and tells her she’ll need to go to one of their stores in the area to get a new remote. This “suggestion” didn’t fly with Leslie. The tech tells her to clean the front of the remote with a clean cloth. She does. It doesn’t. The tech sends a “super signal” and advises it will take an hour to load. Leslie watches TV in another room and after an hour returns to the locked TV only to find—it didn’t work. It’s past 10:00 in the evening and she has been at it for two hours.

Have I mentioned she’s feisty?

Leslie starts the phone dance. By now, she was so competent with the dance she was ready to compete on the cable company’s version of Dancing with the Stars. And she would probably win hands down. She reaches a technician who says he can see her account, blah blah blah, and asks if the TV was working. Leslie advised him, “Noooooo. That’s why I’m calling.” After a few minutes, he gets the TV working. Meaning, it wasn’t the remote. He tells her the next day a “super high tech” guy will call her. Nobody called.

As of this writing, the TV was still working. But I suspect Leslie’s Groundhog Day will continue. Until she changes her provider. But she won’t. She advised me today that while she knows she should just make the switch, but now she’s having too much fun. We’ll see how she feels next month when she’s on the phone with them arguing over their charges for the above tech calls.

And in two months when she’s on the phone with them for hours trying to resolve the next issue.

Or in three months when she’s on the phone with them for hours trying to resolve the next issue.

Or in four months when…yeah, you get it. 😉

Happy Groundhog Day!

Have a terrific day.


Instagram: @punxsyphil