Have you heard the recent joke about the war on drugs?
The best way to end the war on drugs, the joke goes, is to legalize them but make people buy them from their cable provider.
It makes sense. You have to go through 12 Steps to get an actual person on the line when you call a cable company. And they’ve long been able to hook us TV junkies.
“Wouldn’t you like to try the Tennis Channel, Ms. Hutcheson? The first month is free.” That was eight years ago. I’m still paying for the Tennis Channel, although my cable seems to only work every third Sunday during low tide if Donald Trump uses enough hairspray in New York City.
My cable was out during the first few days of this year’s French Open. When I called to complain, Comcast promised a dealer – er, service person – would be at my home on Tuesday between three and four. After calling me three times to confirm I would be home, they didn’t show. Thanks to Comcast, I successfully kicked my French Open habit for a fraction of what rehab would have cost.
In late August, with the U.S. Open set to begin, I devised a backup plan to alleviate the horrors of withdrawal should my cable fail. I intended to numb my pain by watching on my iPhone’s Tennis Channel app.
I didn’t realize logging on required my Xfinity username and password. I had no idea what those were, so I gritted my teeth and called Comcast.
When I finally got through to a person, Bob offered to hook me up with a dab of pay-per-view boxing or some ShowTime smack.
“I just need my username and password.”
“I am sorry that you are having problems, and I will try to help you resolve them. However, I see that you are not currently a Comcast customer.”
My hands were starting to shake. “I’m calling you on the phone line I have from Comcast.”
“I cannot find you in our computer.”
“I’ll bet you could find me if I stopped paying my bill.”
“Would you like to sign up for Comcast and receive Internet service and quality programming like HBO, ShowTime, and the Tennis Channel?”
“Can you just put me through to customer service?”
There was a long pause before he said, “Since you are not a customer, I cannot put you through to customer service.”
I hung up and dialed again. This time, a woman named Sarah answered. I explained my predicament. She asked for my name, address, social security, and four-digit pin code.
“I didn’t know I had a four-digit pin code.”
She gave me a hint that sounded like, “Your pin code is the sum of the digits of your maternal grandmother’s birthdate times the square root of purple.”
“I still don’t know it.”
“If you don’t know your pin code, the only thing I can do is mail your username and password to the address we have on file. That will take anywhere from 11 to 30 business days.”
I hung up thinking if Comcast took over for the DEA, illicit drug use in the United States would end within 10 business days.
And that will happen around the same time Serena Williams wins a calendar-year Grand Slam.
There’s nothing in the world better than a fresh Georgia peach. Click here for the link to my latest column in the St. Augustine Record.