The White Cottage

MY DAYS IN RETIREMENT

Shhhhh, Don’t Tell Ma Bell

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For the past couple of days our satellite reception has been sporatic to say the least. There were channels that we could get, along with a host of channels that we couldn’t get. Natrually, the channels we could get were ones we really never watched. It was especially frustrating today as it literally interrupted our lunch routine. We were puzzled, we were frustrated and wee hubby was getting worried he was going to miss the hockey game tonight. The first game Darcy Tucker (traded by the Toronto Maple Leafs to Colorado) was going to be playing against his former teammates. Situations like that, apparently, make for good hockey!

Last night everything seemed to be just fine, we were watching our usual television shows without any problems. The noon hour was a whole other matter. The two television shows we get a kick out of watching while eating our lunch were not coming through on the old Satellite dish. So we sat in relative silence listening to ourselves bite down on sandwiches and sip our coffee. As luck would have it the whole situation repeated itself again today. And it goes without saying the wee hubby was getting a little pissed. Why are we paying for satellite when we get so many interruptions in service. Yes, we’re having bad weather down this way, but things have settled down and all is calm, right??

Wrong!!! With great hesitation – and knowing what I was about to go through – I called Bell Express Vu. Now, if you’ve had to call Bell recently and had the pleasure of talking to that recorded voice you’ll know what I’m talking about. The challenge becomes in getting past that voice and getting to an actual technician. And there lies the rub – you HAVE to go through the paces this woman puts you through – Press 1 or say “English”, say what the problem is (ie Bell TV),  plug in your 10-digit phone number, please hold while I pull your account, are you in front of your TV, are the TV and satellite dish on, remove the card from the receiver, re-insert the card, etc., etc. It ends up your on the phone talking to a recording for 10 minutes and when she finally offers to get you a technician, the line goes dead!!!!! She bloody well hung up on me!!!!! So we repeat the process and wouldn’t you know it, she recognizes the fact that you were just talking to her. She’s now scaring the hell out of me and pissing me off at the same time!!! 

With undaunted determination I redial the number and finally get a technician – albeit from sunny India – but what the hell, he was human. So here we go again – give me your number, give me your pass number, remove the card, re-insert the card, check behind the receiver, go to Menu, press 6, 1, 1, check transponder, puts me on hold while transponder is going through its paces, check signal, etc., etc., etc. Another twenty minutes down the drain and still no signal. The technician finally concludes that it must be the weather. “Is it snowing where you live?”, he asks. “Not at the present, but we have had snow”, I respond. “Well, give it some time and the signal should be back.”, he replies. “Do you have snow on your dish?”, he also queries. “No, no snow on the dish”, I hit back at him. “Well, then, it must be the weather”, he concludes. By now I realize I’m getting nowhere, and I’m having a hard time understanding his accent – saying “Pardon me?” a lot. So we part our polite ways – “Thank you for choosing Bell, and is there anything else I can help you with?” and all that mumbo jumbo. Why on earth would there be anything else he can help me with – I’m not getting any help for the first problem. Does he honestly expect me to ask him questions about our cell phone or internet service??? So far those are the only two services provided by Ma Bell that we DON’T have a problem with.

After hanging up the phone and getting nowhere, we begin to do research on switching to cable. Naturally we still have another year to run on the satellite contract (being newbies to Bell you have to sign on for at least 2 years) and will have to pay a penalty if we decide to cancel. That settled that matter. We’ll have to stick with old Ma Bell for at least another eleven months. So after our supper, Nat settles down to watch the news on whatever channel he can find transmitting, and gets to wondering aloud – “how come the hi-def channels aren’t showing up on the guide?“. Oh God, don’t ask ME!!!!

And away we go again!!!! I dial that dreaded number. At least this time an hour or so has passed and that woman has forgotten that I was just talking to her earlier, and because it was a different problem I got smart and asked for an “Other” technician!! Clever, eh??? It worked. I was speaking to someone in Bombay in no time!!! God, but wouldn’t you know it, HE put me through all of those paces again – only in a different order!!!! Was I talking to the same guy as before only he was disguising his voice?? Didn’t matter, ’cause it still didn’t work. No hi-def channels were showing up on the guide, still no signal and I was again hearing those immortal words “Is it snowing in your area?”. “Well, then it must be the weather.” “Is there snow on your dish?.  God help me!!

During all of this gawfuffle, Nat had an epiphany – Do you think I should check the dish?” “Guess it wouldn’t hurt”, I reply. So 8:00 pm, he dons his coat, boots, flashlight and ladder, heads out behind the house, with me two steps behind him, looks up at the dish, and low and behold but what should he see?? No, not snow – but ice!!! Bloody ice. Laying on the dish just thick enough that it was obviously reeking havoc on our reception. I head back into the house, grab a bucket of hot water and a squeegee and Nat heads back up the ladder where he can pour it all over the dish, dislodge the ice and dry the dish off with a towel to prevent any residue from re-freezing. Funny thing. Suddenly we were receiving all of our satellite channels!!! Go figure!!!!

As we finally sat back in our chairs with Nat sighing a sigh of relief – he wouldn’t  miss his beloved hockey game – we looked at each other as if to say – “Shhhh, don’t tell Ma Bell she was right”.

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Author: Twila

Born and raised in a small town in Ontario, Canada, with 5 sisters and a brother. Now retired, my husband and I travel, play golf and am slowly renovating our new (old) home. After my kidney transplant in 1999, we've learned to enjoy life to the fullest. Nat and I have driven across Canada, taken an Alaskan cruise and drove home via the Northern United States. We've also been to Mexico, the Caribbean, the East Coast of Canada and Cape Breton. We've done the "Snowbird" thing, having lived in Destin, Florida for a couple of months of the year. In 2007 we changed our travel plans in order to move into and renovate our new "old" home, but hope to someday get back on the road again. We also love returning to Scotland (Nat's origin of birth) to visit his family and tour the Highlands and surrounding Isles.

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