“There’s someone at the door,” said my wife, which is never a statement of fact, but rather a request for me to go see who it is.
Generally, I’d prefer that Mary Ellen not answer the door. She’s a softy and can’t say “no” to solicitors, which is why we have 20 years’ worth of garbage bags in the garage and every spring we donate 50 boxes of Thin Mint cookies to the local food bank.
The young man at the door was very polite and asked if we would consider changing our cable service. As a creature of habit, I am not inclined to change anything unless something much better comes along … and I say that proudly after 35 years of marriage. I was in a generous mood, so I invited the gentleman in the house and asked him to give me his 60-second sales pitch.
“I’m a bit nervous,” he said.
“Why is that?”
“I’ve never gotten this far before.”
The time was 7:03 p.m. Keegan began by trying to convince me of the benefits of a faster Internet connection, excited to boost me to 10 megabits per second from my present lowly 8. “How long does it take you to get on the Internet now?” he asked.
“Well, I start upstairs with a beverage, then, with this pesky knee of mine, it takes me quite a while to get down the stairs to the computer. Then by the time I find my glasses, we’re looking at eight to 10 minutes.”
Keegan then explained the cable advantages of this offer, which basically meant instead of 240 shows available every hour, we could now get 270, giving us an extra 30 we also had no time to watch.
The deal-maker was that he was going to provide us with four DVRs, the devices that record TV programs for future viewing. We only have three TVs, so we’d have to just stick one next to the toilet in the half-bath. It won’t be hooked up to anything, but I bet it will creep out our guests at our next dinner party.
When Keegan finally figured out our savings, he was required to call their resolution center somewhere in another country to confirm the price he had calculated. The agent put Keegan on hold for 40 minutes (although he said it would just be a moment), which made me feel better: Every endless second we waited, I was more assured this was a real cable company.
Finally, Keegan handed me his cellphone so I could establish some answers to security questions.
“What is your favorite fast-food restaurant?” I was asked.
I was flustered, so the first thing that came out of my mouth was Arby’s, which is really weird because that’s the last thing I would put in my mouth. This guy in India said I couldn’t use a name with an apostrophe, since those characters were not permitted. This also eliminated my being able to use Hardees (Hardee’s?), McDonalds (McDonald’s?) and Wendys (Wendy’s?). I ended up with Burger King whether I liked it or not. (And I don’t.)
It was now 10:05 and I had finally signed up. The phone rang; and when I answered it, it was yet another cable service wanting to talk about their new promotion, which sounded pretty good, too.
“Let me think about that,” I said. “Can I put you on hold for a moment?”