Originally published in the Miami News-Record on February 28, 2016.
We recently discontinued our satellite TV after about 20 years of being pretty much infinitely entertained 24/7. We were rather attached to our DVR. We hardly ever watched live TV and we rarely watched a commercial. Gone were the days of everyone jumping up to race to the bathroom on a commercial break. We binge-watched a lot of shows and hoarded movies like Gollum held on to his “precious”.
The price seemed to creep up almost every month and we just couldn’t justify the expense any longer. When I called to see about lowering the bill, a friendly fella named Jeremy knocked $5 off our bill permanently as a “long-time customer courtesy” and another $5 for six months “until you get back on your feet.” I laughed and said, “Well, while that’s certainly generous of you, I think you’re going to have to do better than $10 to keep us. What else can you offer me?” Jeremy assured me that was the best anyone could do. Paul and I talked it over for a few days and just decided we could no longer justify $100 a month for TV. When I called back to set up the disconnection, Audra, a Customer Service Specialist, offered to drop our bill $40 a month for six months. But then said that after that six month period, the package price will have increased another $15 a month. That cinched the deal.
We were going to be caught in a never-ending, vicious cycle of rate hikes until we’d be forced to hand over one of our offspring as an indentured servant. And since I have grown quite fond of the children, I had the disconnect set up for the last day of the billing cycle, a mere four days away.
Then we proceeded to watch as many of the programs on the DVR as we could. An entire season of “Supergirl” we’d been saving for snow days (that never happened) had to be sacrificed. We abandoned the last four episodes of “The Strain”. (I’m pretty sure the vampires won, but I guess I’ll never know.) “Legends of Tomorrow”, “The Flash”, and “Arrow” could be picked up online. We deleted about 75 movies and around 30 of our favorite “Doctor Who” episodes, making ourselves feel better by saying that we will eventually own The Doctor on DVD.
Paul’s brother gave us a digital converter. Paul hooked everything up, turned on the TV, stood back expectantly waiting for the free TV channels to roll in…..and they didn’t. With some tweaking we managed to snag 12, 16, three public television channels, but if someone walked through the dining room, we lost signal altogether. We bought an outdoor antenna. He hooked it up, turned on the TV, again stood back expectantly ….only to find we had mystically lost the three public television channels. I informed him that the final season of “Downton Abbey” was the ONE THING I refused to sacrifice. Words were said. Threats were made. Prayers were lifted.
And finally Pops came to the house, found the problem, saved our marriage, and assured me that I will indeed get to witness the final episodes of Downton at the same time all of the other cool people will. Kady has discovered the retro game show network and is mesmerized by old black-and-white episodes of “To Tell the Truth” featuring a very young Betty White and Johnny Carson. I also heard her holler “NO WHAMMIES!!” the other day, so I think she’s discovered “Press My Luck” as well.
Personally, I’ve discovered I am a much more productive person now that I’m not financially obligated to watch as much TV as I can in a month to justify the cost. I ran the vacuum twice last week and even dusted. Paul says not only are we saving $100 on the TV, it’s like we’ve gotten a free housekeeper and cook, too. He’s precious that man of mine. And practical, if nothing else.