If It Ain’t Broke, It Ain’t TL’s

Kara, made of sterner stuff than I am, had an extremely social weekend: high-school reunion (I didn’t make it to any of mine), friends from Denver, dad from New Mexico, and mom and stepdad from Oregon.

Saturday, while Kara was being a good member of her class and lining up to be in the parade, Oz and I watched the parade with Vann, Gilly and Kara’s sister, mom and stepdad. Trish and Randy, who were just about the last people let through on a highway near Reno, where they could see large wildfire flames cresting a ridge, drove in a few days ago for their first visit in nearly two years.

Randy, who last saw our house shortly after we moved, wanted to know how we were liking the place, and instead of telling him how nice it is, I complained about the constant string of breakage. In my defense, the breakages of last week included the satellite TV and the driver’s window in my car (the glass isn’t broken, but it won’t roll up or down).

This comes on the heels of Lynn’s kitchen drawer, which for some reason has now started to scrape along the floor, leaving scratches in its wake. My self-reliant attempts to remove the drawer to examine it failed when it seemed like I was going to break the cheap plastic clips that hold the slides in place. Lynn has emptied the drawer since it’s no longer functional and I just chalked it up to a long line of failures in a two-year-old house.

And I’m sure I’m being dour about this, but let’s review: the boiler pump has already been replaced (“I’ve never seen one of these fail before,” said the plumber); steamer in the shower, replaced; manufacturer’s defect caused most of the windows to require repair in order for them to close properly; light fixture shot out of the kitchen ceiling (“I’ve never seen these fail before,” said our contractor); pipe rattling in the wall; the deck step is a lawsuit waiting to happen; Lynn’s shower continues to leak despite two repair efforts by professionals; the refrigerator, with its 10-year limited warranty, already won’t tolerate any weight being set on the shelves in the door, and still sometimes randomly sounds as though a cam is broken . . .

And let us not forget the electrical glitches: vacuums, mixers, televisions, computers, multiple oxygen concentrators, and now — I thought — the satellite.

Given this track record, it’s easy to assume the worst when something goes down, but I have to say, this satellite outage didn’t make much sense. For two days prior Lynn’s Fire Stick was non-functional. Lynn kept telling me it was probably the modem, and I kept pointing out that all our computers were working.

At some point I unplugged, and the easiest thing in the welter of cords and cables was to take the probably non-surge protector plug out of the wall, turning off everything. Then I plugged it back in, and suddenly the satellite, working mere seconds before, showed a complete signal loss.

I tried everything the screen suggested, with no success. Sometimes it would say it was acquiring the signal, only nothing happened, and then it would revert to “complete signal loss.” I resorted to signing up for a chat, where a technician decided the receiver was obsolete and because of that, I was eligible for a free upgrade that would only cost $9.99 per month. Yes, free for a mere $10 per month.

I suppose I should feel for people who have to work for companies that insist you upsell every which way you can. Here’s a man who signed up for a job helping customers troubleshoot their systems, and in each lull while we waited for the receiver to actually do something, he was inquiring as to what I need from Dish to make my life more fulfilling: did I want “Dish Anywhere”? Did I have Netflix? For your free upgrade that only costs $10 per month, you can record hundreds of hours of TV.

His thankless task wasn’t working. I don’t need the TV to follow me around anymore than I need my phone going everywhere I go. Recording TV that I’m never going to watch sounds like endless clutter in an already endlessly-cluttered life. In fact, I told him, we are on the verge of cancelling because the cost goes up every year and we’re already paying more than we want to. So no, we are certainly not interested in a free upgrade of “only” $10 per month.

He provided the “customer loyalty” number that I could call to see what they could do for me for price. I assume this is the line that you call and tell them you’re thinking of cancelling, only for them to suddenly find deals available just for me that cut my bill down to something more palatable. For a few months.

But I didn’t get there. Ever since the last price increase, Lynn and I have been debating whether we could function without the satellite, and just get by with streaming services through the finicky Fire Stick.

Let me rephrase that: Lynn has been sure — absolutely certain — for decades that we do not need satellite, since everything of value comes to us through the Miracle of the Internet. I, singular, have been debating whether I, singular, could function without the satellite. This seemed like an opportune time to test.

It’s a test I initially thought I was passing, but yesterday I realized I was failing. On the main TV it was okay, because the wide world of streaming, even without Netflix, more than takes care of the one to two hours Lynn and I spend in front of the TV each evening.

But the leftover Fire Stick attached to my TV is non-functional, as we should have all come to expect, leaving me only with a large collection of DVDs. But the main point of this TV is to put me to sleep, and if I have to keep getting up to change DVDs, well, that’s a fail.

Yesterday, then, thinking back on the abruptness of the satellite signal loss, I went back to work behind the main TV where the receiver is located. And as I pulled it forward, the signal restored. No free upgrade for $9.99 required.

I’m still not clear where the problem is: I replaced a piece of coaxial cable, but there seems to be a tenuous connection somewhere else, perhaps on a silver piece that turns three cables into one, but for one shining moment I fixed something around here that broke.

Of course, right as I am jubilantly telling you this, my mechanic has called to warn me that they can’t get parts for my car window, so I may have to figure out how to get a car that gets 70-ish miles per charge to a dealership in Montrose, now located farther away than ever due to road closure.

So some things remain broken while others have been repaired, and I am going to work on my responses to people like Randy, who also asked how I was liking my Leaf (I did manage to refrain from complaining about the window). Just because everything I own is broken doesn’t mean I need to be, too.

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