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Commentary :: Labor
Cable Tech Blog
01 Aug 2005
Ramblings of a cable tech
I wake up in the morning with a strange feeling in the back of my mind, I quickly forget what it was about as I trip over yesterdays work clothes. I kiss my fiancee, the baby, my son and say good bye to our angstful teenage foster child (run on sentence?).
Again I have no time to take care of myself, stopping in the kitchen to make breakfast is such an afterthought.
I pull onto the highway smoking like a broken down steam engine. I listen to NPR and look over at other drivers as I speed to work.
Seventy miles later I arrive at the warehouse and get my work assignments for the day. I organize my truck as quickly as possible, get all the equiptment and away I am.
Feeling quite hungry I pull up to my first customer's house, introduce myself, figure out what needs to be done and get to work.
By the time I am done, the customer has a new gleaming package of Cable T.V. I sometimes make jokes about how the national average for cable is $125.00 per month. Very funny when someone realizes they are throwing money away so they can have fast internet, digital cable and they can't really afford it.
Here is how it works. I am a contractor (owner operated), the cable company advertises a free install or some cheap promotion for three months. If you actually paid for an install you were dealing with a new sales rep, someone who is having a bad day or you aren't a discriminating shopper. I perform the required install- get paid the same rate (per job type) no matter how long the install takes. If I get a tip I eat lunch or put it in my gas tank. Listen to customers tell me how horrible the world has become, or their next vacation plans.
My average day is about twelve hours of work and driving, I've stayed out till one thirty in the morning sometimes. Usually some cranky assed customer who keeps telling you what a great job you're doing and they really appreciate it.
Never a tip on those nights. Driving home again, seventy miles or more depending where I was located that day.
Plenty of time to think on the way home. Gas prices, trying to figure out how your going to pay the kid you just hired. Wondering why not so many of my customers aren't complaining about our changing society or the really bad situations they are in.
I have been in over five thousand homes in less than four and a half years. I have seen almost every situation. Here are some typical scenarios.
An old lady whose apartment is so messy I should fail the install for health reasons, she has cats all over, pictures of her pug who is in the hospital and dying. My trainee started making fun of her when we got outside, not an experienced tech. I remind him that from the clues I could ascertain her husband died or left her or is in a hospital, she's raised children and is obviously very depressed. Her family must be far away, I know I wouldn't let my mother live like that, I'd be there every other day making sure she was comfortable and clean.
The response I get is typical "Yeah thats fine but that shithole stank!".
Other homes include any Housing authority in the next three states. I never understood how people in such abject poverty could afford such high cable rates, while their children are running around in a house that no one can afford to mop the floor or buy decent food. I am always extremely polite, professional and empathetic to a degree.
I've been locked in homes and threatened within inches of my life, all for scratching a hardwood floor. I've had all of my tools stolen by a customers drug addict child, I watched a customer beat his wife( I took the appropriate action and stepped in.) I witnessed a shooting while I was working outside a customers home.
The worst situation I got into is as follows
I used to protest, organize, read, play, write and all of the other fun stuff. During 2000 I would talk to my customers about voting, or donating food and clothes.
As I unplugged the cable at a customer's house on septtember eleventh, I heard an amazing scream. It reminded me of seperating a calf from its mother. You see this customer started cursing ath those "dirty towel heads" for crashing into the worlds financial pillar. I asked her how certain she was it was middle eastern people, she said she was jewish and an authority on the matter. Really?
I asked if she took donations and sent them to iSRAEL to support the troops and help divide the rest of the refugee camps up. Sensing my witt and sarcasm she threw me out and threatened to call the police. She did in fact call the police and told them I was cheering for the terrorists, that I was making terrorist threats. (occasionally I go back and disconnect her cable- to this day)
I immediately got a call from my boss asking me what the hell I was doing, was I a terrorist and if so I wouldn't have a job. I informed him of what actually happened and told him not to be so ignorant.
that is the end of my adventures for tonight stay tuned

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