Mark orders HD from Charter [B, H, PI, T)

It's funny how the last thing we all need in our lives is more stress, yet the Fates seem to always conspire against us. As a way of helping to alleviate the slightly-increased (like the moon is 'slightly' larger than my thumbnail) stress at work, I had finally made the splurge to get a DVR with High Definition cable service from Charter for the big-screen HDTV I earned from a book I illustrated.

Anyway, my older son and I went to get haircuts, and while we were gone the Charter Worker Bee installed the HD/DVR. Now I can't blame my wife or other son, but all that was installed was a DVR. That's great, so I can save episodes of "24" (and dump them to my computer to make a DVD, but that's another story) but no High Definition signal.

In calling Charter, the first person I spoke to offered the hillbilly-like explanation that "all our DVR's got HD"; I kindly did not try to correct their grammar, but did ask them (to gauge their approximate E.I.Q. [Electronics Intelligence Quotient, very important if working for an electronics-related company]) if they realize that either a "Component-" or "HDMI-output" is needed to get the High Definition signal to the TV?

They confirmed they did know that, then inexplicably proceeded to tell me that connecting the yellow, red and white 'plugs' (i.e. analog TV, Left & Right audio RCA-connectors) to the TV would give me HD. Gritting my teeth so hard I could feel flecks of enamel delaminating, I explained that no, "that is an analog signal" as the barely-legible 4th generation copy of a FAXed manual left for me confirmed - the abbreviation SDTV meaning "Standard Definition TV". The operant word being "Standard" which means "not-HD".

She offered to transfer me to their Service line; I was at least fairly hopeful, as you figure, well Service must have a higher EIQ. Right? I was at least optimistic as I could audibly detect a lack of alcohol on their breath.

I was feeling really in the groove when Service said that Charter had made a mistake (hooray!) and that even though it was in the call notes (yaaay!!) from my phone order last month, the High Def order hadn't been put on the work order (hallelujah!!) and that (warning: aneurysm-inducing quote follows) once they turned on the HD at their end, the DVR would be outputting an HD signal to the TV (what-the-F***?!).

I explained that this model DVR wouldn't output High Definition if Charter sent 50,000 volts through it (with apologies to Monty Python and their Parrot Sketch); and plain-and-simple that I need a different model of DVR. My hopes quickly sank, as the Service person said they would check on that.

As I knew 100% I was right, I repeatedly tried to convince the Charter lady that she needed to provide another model DVR. As that wasn't helping, I asked what other models do they carry, and I could check for her. She suggested the Motorola BMC9012; a quick Google for the model did confirm Component output.

(Parenthetically I should add that one of my dreams is to found a Web search engine, using an obscure obscene reference, such as www.felching.com or www.frotteur.com; so some day when Wolf Blitzer says "We did a quick Felching to look that up" several million people will spray milk out of their noses at once.)

I could sense my blood pressure dropping to near 3:00 PM-at-work levels. I hopefully asked if this was something she could call the Installer Bromide and see if they could swing back by. I was told perhaps either one of the biggest lies or one of the stupidest things I heard in 2007. She said they take only the equipment to complete that one day's work orders.

Now think about how banal that statement is. Some electronics are dead out of the box, or some people getting one DVR might decide to have another installed that day. Or even (like me) Charter might occasionally once a decade make a mistake in the work order. I gave the Charter lady these scenarios, and asked her to check to be sure. She did, and said if I wanted to reschedule it would be the earliest next Saturday or we could exchange the DVR today a few towns over at a Charter office.

I did some quick thinking, weighing the minor inconvenience of driving to get the proper DVR, against the intense personal satisfaction of next weekend having the Service Slug do the install while kneeling on a large plastic sheet I had laid out previous to their arrival, as I donned a Tyvek coverall while standing near the new Ronco/Showtime knife set in our kitchen ("Look at that folks, how much would you pay for a knife that goes through bone, meat, gristle and sinew, yet is still sharp enough to cut this tomato paper thin?"), with a spray bottle of bleach-solution nearby, all the while ruminating about the deep, freshly-dug hole in the woods way, way in back of our house, across a stream where no one ever ventures… (Insert Giorgio Moroder's music from Hitchcock's Psycho shower scene here)

I decided I want to see the new House episode this Tuesday in glorious High Definition. I'll write up sometime the rest of the conversation; wherein I innocently asked if she could check to see if the Charter store ACTUALLY HAD the model DVR in stock, wherein I was told "they don't have a phone there".

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