i was watching the astros game and surfing the web on saturday afternoon when someone knocked on the door. when i looked through the peephole, i saw a guy holding a clipboard. ooh, maybe i got a package! i thought. i opened the door.
“hi, i’m phil from time warner cable,” the guy said. damn. “we’re checking all our lines today and making sure everything’s working, and we also want to offer you a deal on an upgrade to your service.”
“okay…” i said.
“currently you’re paying $30.00 for cable modem service, is that correct?”
“we’d like to offer you an upgrade to cable modem plus digital cable for just thirteen dollars more per month, for one year with no contract and no installation fee for a total of $43.00 per month.”
“hmm,” i said. he waited for me to say something else. “hmm,” i said again.
“you should know that this is a really good deal, and it probably won’t come along again,” he said.
“hmm.” if i got digital cable i could watch almost every. single. astros game. i could watch the daily show. south park. thousands and thousands of scrubs reruns.
“hmm.” but if i got digital cable, i’d never do anything else, would i? i already don’t do anything else, but with cable i’d sit down in front of the tv when i got home from work, and i’d never get up again, even if there was nothing good on. if there was a baseball game on, i’d have to watch it. if there was a years-old rerun of a gilmore girls episode i’ve seen a hundred times, i’d have to watch it.
if i got digital cable, i could continue my cycle of self-loathing and television watching forever.
“it’s a hard offer to refuse, isn’t it?” he said.
“yeah, but you know what? i’m gonna.”
“yeah. i watch too much tv already.”
“with just your antenna?” he said, looking as shocked as i’ve ever seen a cable salesman look.
“my antenna and dvds, yeah.”
“like, you have something else you gotta do instead?”
“yeah. i do.”
“well, okay,” he said, looking at me like i’d just grown a third arm out of my neck.
after i closed the door, i thought about it for one more second. i could look at the contract to see if i could cancel it after the 3000th hit. it’s not too late, he can’t have gotten very far. but i didn’t open the door again.
after that thought passed, i began to be proud of my refusal. i felt good about it, like a caffeine addict saying no to a second cup of coffee. when i crawled into bed with a book that night (which i might not have done had there been bad reruns to watch on digital cable), i thought about the day i’d spent watching the astros and my simpsons dvds, and i said to myself, “you’re better than that.”
if i can say no to digital cable for thirteen dollars a month, it really must be true.
(listen, i don’t want to become one of those people who thinks that all television is bad. absolutes like that and others are at best annoying and at worst fairly dangerous. besides, when the office premieres in the fall, i’m going to be on the edge of my seat. but i want to get to a point where i can watch the office and then turn the tv off, and i can’t do that with sixty-one channels.)