Humming along

Some days the world just seems to have it in for us. Today I woke up to a strange noise. It was the noise, a difference in the room ambiance that waked me. It was an angry little hum that penetrated my skull more than flowed through my ears. At first the noise wasn’t located, it seemed to eminate from everywhere at once. But cocking my head and walking in a circle finally gave it away. It turned out to be the Comcast DVR. I suspect that one of the disk drives inside it had developed what disk drive manufacturers call a “sticktion.” That’s a very stupid way of saying the bearing was frozen, thus preventing the disk from turning. The hum was the protest of the electromagnet of the drive motor. Wow, what a really annoying noise.

I turned the box off and was surprised when the noise continued. Its like flipping a light switch off and the light stays on anyway. Everything you know tells you this is wrong, a warp in reality. Albert Einstein be damned. I got a flashlight and confirmed that a black hole was not forming inside the DVR. I already have one Comcast black hole; it sucks the matter from my wallet insatiably. The last thing I need is one that eats the contents of my house. I moved a few knicknacks away just in case. I tried the time tested repair of smacking the DVR box. That caused the hum to warble uncertainly, but then it regained its confidence and went back to humming its single note tune. I had no doubt that this cretinous piece of technology had its origins in China. I was partially right, it came from Taiwan. That’s China with a paint job.

I yanked the power cable from the rear of the device and the hum stopped. Peace once again reigned and a rainbow appeared, arcing from the pillow on my bed over to the bathroom door. I decided that it was more of an arrow than a rainbow, suggesting that the toilet might be a good place to store the faulty piece of crap. If only my toilet could produce a nuclear class flush.

I called Comcast support to request an exchange. I explained that the unit was making a loud and annoying hum and that I had to literally unplug it to make it stop. The person on the support line groveled and apologized that my life had been catastrophically ruined by such an unfortunate disaster. I was then instructed to turn it on and proceed to the settings window. I inquired as to whether there was a setting which was able to turn the hum on and off. They said no, but there were steps that must be taken to troubleshoot the problem. “But, the DVR works just fine.” I said. “It just makes this awful hum.”  I could have sworn the support lady made a clandestine ‘harrumph’ before getting a patronizing tone with which she asked me to please follow instructions. I said okay and pressed the menu button. Being unplugged, of course, there was no reaction from the DVR. I reported this to the support lady. Fight fire with fire, I always say.

There were a few moments of silence after which she announced that upon checking my line, the unit was not showing up in my connected equipment list. “Your DVR is malfunctioning,” she announced as though she’d just discovered a cure for Ebola. “You need to take it to your local Comcast office and exchange it for a functional model.” Wow. Those support people are on the ball, aren’t they? She said that she would approve the swap and I could make it at my convenience anytime in the next two weeks. I thanked her for her wisdom and time, hanging up as she asked if there was anything else she cou…

There was a line at the Comcast store and I felt smug about being able to st on my scooter instead of shifting my weight from one foot to the other like everyone else in the line. I quietly read a book on my Nexus 7, occasionally bumping forward on the control joystick to move with the pace of the line. It took about 20 minutes and then it was my turn. I explained to the lady that the DVR was making a loud and annoying hum and that support had approved my swapping it out. She looked at me funny and explained that I hadn’t needed to call support. For something like this I could just bring in the offending unit and swap it out.  ”Okay. I said, “I’d like to swap it out.” She beamed at me as though I’d just graduated medical school and had proposed to her ugly and always-whining daughter. In a very David Copperfield like move, she turned a circle and my old DVR disappeared and a new one appeared in its place. I snatched it from the counter and plopped it into my lap before she could invoke some hidden Comcast policy that would incur a fee. I spun and rolled out the door as she thanked me for using Comcast and asked if there was anything else she cou…

At home I plugged the device in and turned it on. According to the guide, I had two available channels. Since I have a Digital Premiere account I pay a mere twelve thousand dollars a month for, I was disturbed by the vast emptiness of the channel guide. Then I noticed the little card that said to register the device I should go to a Comcast website and log in with my username and password. I did so and it told me that I had new and unregistered equipment and that I should activate it NOW. I thought that if it was so important that they had to yell about it, they should damn well activate it themselves. For crying out loud, I just went to the Comcast store and the system recognized the device as legitimate, why did I have to involve myself in a registration process. What a pain. I had all these step to perform. It asked me “Activate this device? Y/N” and I clicked “Y.” The DVR immediately began to work, I could tell by the full TV guide and the fact that a QVC channel immediately tried to sell me some freshwater pearls. I grabbed the remote and switched to the Discovery Channel where Flo was trying yet again to get interested in Progressive Insurance. Ha! I had Progressive but switched to Geico when I discovered they could save me just over $500 a year. Flo was sure that Progressive could save me hundreds if I was to switch to Progressive. I wondered how many times I would have to switch back and forth between the companies before they had to start paying me to use them.

I sighed contentedly and shut off the television. I wasn’t really in the mood to watch the tube, I’d only wanted to make sure it was ready to go when the time came that I did want to give up a few brain cells in trade for amusement. I pressed the OFF switch and the screen went black.

Then the DVR started to make this annoying humming noise.