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Taking back the night

OK, if you know me at all, you know I struggle with cable TV. When I look at my bill, I could realistically be making payments on that little, two-seater, Mercedes convertible I’ve had my eye on. OK, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but for what I pay compared to what I get, I’m having trouble seeing the value of that line item in my elusive budget.

On top of all that, my cable has recently gone completely digital. I have no idea what that means. I do know they’ve been warning me about this impending change for a couple of months now (probably longer), but like most things involving seemingly-complicated technology, I’ve turned a deaf ear to their warnings. Oh sure, I glanced at their flyers, saw their commercials, read the red-print warning in my monthly statements, but I assumed I’d figure it out when it happened.

Well, Wednesday night it happened ...

That’s right. I came home from work Wednesday night, flipped on the TV to watch the news and ... you guessed it ... nothing. Crap! I immediately found myself quietly reciting the words, “Don’t panic, Terri. Don’t panic, Terri. Don’t panic, Terri,” like some mantra I’ve heard people in long robes chant at the airport. I attempted to flip the channels. Still nothing. I tried to adjust the volume. Nothing. I turned it off and then on again — like the cable company was just playing a sick joke. But there was no laughter in front of my TV. Just as they promised, they went digital on me.

OK, it shouldn’t have been a big deal. Aside from the fact I had just experienced a fairly nutty day in the newsroom, I’m really not addicted to TV. But it was Wednesday, and I have a couple of TV shows I truly enjoy; I don’t mind telling you I actually wait for them every week. It’s clearly not a life and death matter if I have to miss these shows, but I do tend to plan my Wednesday evenings around these two programs. Sad, I know, but it’s the truth.

So reluctantly, I eyed the box in the corner of the room that held a digital adapter, whatever that means. The cable company had sent it to me a few weeks ago, yet I hadn’t had the inclination to even open the box. Outta sight, outta mind — at least until Wednesday night. I knew I only had a few hours to get this mess straightened out before one of my shows came on, so reluctantly I tore open the box and started reading the instruction manual. OK, I was skimming, but it didn’t seem too difficult, even for this old girl.

Disconnect this, attach this, then reconnect that ... wait 30 minutes for the digital programming to be finished ... and we should be in business. Wrong! Start over! Must have done something incorrectly. Two hours later (despite the package which says they’ll have me up and running in just a few minutes), I was still at it, and by this time, the cable representative who was unlucky enough to get my phone call was probably making plans to quit his job the moment he could get me off the phone.

I’m not very smart when it comes to technology, but I am smart enough to know when it’s time to give up. I hung up the phone, turned off the blank screen and headed outside onto my front porch. Grabbing an afghan off the back of the couch, I cuddled up on the wicker couch and let the silence of the night bring my blood pressure back to a non-threatening level. Other than a train whistle in the distance and an occasional car a few streets away, I left the digital world behind me and before long, I found myself wondering why it took a cable TV issue to finally bring me to the comfort of my own front porch — where the scenario was real (rather than some fabricated TV drama) and the complicated connections of digital TV were non-existent.

Aaahhh ... maybe it’s time we turn off our TVs and start taking back our nights.

BCR Editor Terri Simon can be reached at tsimon@bcrnews.com.

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