I told the person on the other end of the line that I only wanted to get rid of the TV portion of my Triple Play Package, whose monthly rate had gradually doubled since I first signed up for it more years ago than I can remember.
I was immediately transferred to the special agent in charge of getting subscribers to change their minds. She asked why I no longer wished to avail myself.
"Two words," I replied. "Donald Trump!"
Of course, since I write for a non-living, I couldn't let it go at just those two words. So I launched into my tirade of news just not being news any more. I want, I said, to be informed, not to be screamed at by corporate stooges telling me I should be spending all my days and all my nights Being Very Afraid of Donald Trump. I not only want to break up with Donald Trump, I want to break up with the entire Trump Terror Franchise.
Plus, since I have a couple of streaming services, cable TV is getting more redundant by the minute.
"You do realize, don't you," the cable rep cautioned, "That the movies you can watch on Pay-Per-View are newer than the ones you can watch on Netflix."
I don't care, I said. I'm still trying to catch up on films that came out 50 years ago. For example, I finally got around to watching "Nothing Sacred" with Carole Lombard for the first time in my life on Sunday night.
Finally realizing that I am indeed one of those people who can actually survive without cable TV, the Special Agent in Charge of Retention relented and offered me a very special secret deal available only to loyal customers like me. I'd get $50 knocked off my monthly bill, keep all my cable TV channels, and as an added bonus, they'd upgrade my Internet service to a higher, more professional speed usually available only to the elite business class.
Great! So why wasn't I offered this deal before, I asked.
The retention agent chuckled knowingly. I seems that I had stupidly failed to read the offer in super tiny print when it first came out in 2011, delivered with my monthly bill (actually, it's more like bi-monthly, since it's on a 21-day cycle.) R-i-i-i-ght, I agreed.
So anyway, an independent contractor of the cable company showed up right on schedule with my new modem. Not that I've scientifically measured the speed with which I can now access all my political fund-raising emails from the various Democratic subsidiaries of Resistance, Inc. or anything, but I honestly can't tell any difference at all. However, since the shiny new modem now sitting under my desk is almost twice the size of the older model, I will be a dutifully happy consumer. I just have to remember to call them back a year from now to re-cancel, before they automatically double my rates again.
So, as they say in the media biz, here's your takeaway: when dealing with your cable company, always behave like Donald Trump. Bluster, complain, meander insanely, and scoff at the pitiful enticements. And then, if you're as lucky, and successful and, like, as smart as me and The Donald, you will win. You will make your checking account balance, if not great again, at least healthy enough to cash in on the latest Buy One Get One Free Doritos deal, and munch merrily away while you consume All Fear, All the Time.
And just as an aside, the next time a cable guy or gal comes to your house, find out if they're directly employed by your "provider" -- which, as often as not, also creates the content as well as delivering it. Since their technicians are increasingly members of the low-paid, no benefit gig economy, please consider giving them a tip on their way out.
Meanwhile, the New York Times has some helpful advice on adjusting your media diet in the Age of Trump. Do I need to tell you that an integral part of this therapeutic regimen is to stop visiting Facebook and Twitter and reading blogs like Sardonicky, and instead restrict your consumption to mainstream media outlets -- such as New York Times?
It's because editors are like hospital dieticians whipping up a bland diet. One source for Christopher Mele's piece appreciates editors who "select the top stories and spare him from reading 'the incomplete, incremental, second-rate stuff often published online.'" (translation: anything that criticizes the centrist neoliberal establishment or departs from the official Narrative.)
Too much information in the Age of Trump, warn media experts turned shrinks, is like junk food laced with crack cocaine. It is harmful to your health. The Times quotes one media
therapist expert, Dan Gillmor, who suggests a Slow News Movement modeled after the Slow Food Movement. Just because there's an endless selection of news product on the shelves doesn't mean we have to cram our maws with every last bite:
“We haven’t been asking anything of the news-producing group, namely journalists, who I would strongly argue should be more involved in managing the insane flow of information and misinformation,” he said. “It would be better if we had an approach that said, ‘Calm down.’”
Some of the advice is just common sense. For example, if you made the mistake of watching Donald Trump's prime time Supreme Court Nominee Show on Tuesday night, you probably lost at least some sleep. A cheese is a cheese is a cheese. By any other name it would smell as pungent, especially if you're already prone to acid reflux or the night terrors.
So any day now, Big Pharma will be marketing its psychoactive cornucopia to sufferers of News Fatigue Disorder... in glitzy ads on the Nightly News.
I think I'll just pretend that my cable cord is not still intact and settle down with a good book. I hear that dystopian lit is making quite a comeback, Not only is Orwell's 1984 reportedly already out of stock on Amazon, but Hannah Arendt's weighty Origins of Totalitarianism is also doing a brisk business.
Sweet dreams, everybody.