So, after a long nightmare of having Time Warner cable service, I had finally had enough of channels disappearing, garbled audio, and staticky picture on channels as simple as ABC. I swear to you, and I am not exaggerating, I called Time Warner’s customer service line more often than I called anyone else. It was ALWAYS at the top of my recent calls. They are simply the worst. I don’t know why I toughed it out for so long because I barely watch television, but I did.
But that’s all over now. I canceled the service. Good riddance. I hate them with the power of about a third of the sun.
So, I was left with two choices:
- Have no cable television whatsoever and save money.
- Get DirecTV.
I was leaning heavily towards having no cable. I’d done it before for around two years. The only drag is not being able to watch live sports on ESPN or SNY or YES or MSG. Was it really worth it to pay for cable just so I can watch something as silly and meaningless as sports?
Well, when you add DirecTV’s Sunday ticket, for free, hell yeah it’s worth it. For signing up for two years, I got a year of Sunday ticket free. Awesome.
So I go online and set up an installation. I only realized afterwards that this might be a problem. My landlord has been renovating both the interior and exterior of the building for about the last three months. It’s endless. Every morning I wake up to the sound of hammers and saws cutting through something. Only now, though, has the exterior of the house finally come close to completion. And now, with DirecTV, I had to ask my landlord if it would be okay for me to bolt a giant dish to his house.
It didn’t go well.
He wanted nothing to do with it being on the house. He didn’t mind it being somewhere else, but on the house he just spent months renovating? I completely understood his position, and figured, “Screw it. I don’t need cable.” I called DirecTV to cancel. They told me not to worry about it and let the technician come and see what he could do. My landlord said to call him and ask before they did anything.
So the technician comes over and suggests putting it on the roof of the garage, which had not been renovated. All he and his partner would have to do is run a wire along existing phone wires. Perfect. But still, my landlord was resistant. He was against putting even a single new line into the house. I’m on the phone with him trying to explain how simple it would be, but he’s not having it. He’s Russian (a Russian Jew, and there are many Russian Jews in the area), and he speaks English much like many other Russian men speak English: he yells it. So, I’m standing there on the phone trying to reason with a man who’s yelling at me, and the technician and his partner are just waiting with their hands on their hips. Eventually, my landlord is tired of yelling English at me, and he asks to talk to the technician.
I hand over the phone, the technician says exactly what I said, and after a minute, we have clearance to put one single hole into the house. Awesome.
I get back on the phone with my landlord and he says to me, “Is he a black guy?”
I was NOT expecting that question, but I answered truthfully, “Um… yeah. Yes he is.”
“See, black guys they don’t care about the work. He’s going to make a mess. I don’t need him putting four holes in my house. You need to watch him and make sure he doesn’t mess anything up.”
I started to laugh at how fantastically racist all that was, but I was a little worried about my own part in this process. I don’t need the blame if this guy makes a mistake. I say, “How am I supposed to make sure he doesn’t make a mistake? Once he makes the mistake, he makes it. I can’t unmake it.”
“Just watch him. Make sure he doesn’t drill like four holes in the house.”
“Um, okay. I’ll do what I can.” Which was literally nothing.
So, I hang up and walk up to the technician. What do I say? Well, I tell him exactly what my landlord said, about the whole black guys doing bad work, and explained that this was probably why he was giving us such a hard time. The look on the guy’s face was perfect. It was a great blend of “WTF” and “Oh, now it makes sense, I’ve gotten this dozens of times before.” I start laughing and just shrug my shoulders, and he shakes his head. We start walking back into the house, and he asks me, “Well what the hell is he? Pakistani or something?”
“Nah, man. He’s a Russian Jew.”
“Oh a Jew? They’re the worst. That explains it. I don’t know why they’re so mad at us. Black people didn’t do nothing to them. They need to be mad at the Muslims. They’re the ones trying to kill them.”
Wonderful. I just stand there laughing, enjoying the beautiful racism these gentlemen are throwing around. It’s really interesting to watch it be exposed like that. It’s not often you get to see it that honest, that removed from political correctness. It’s like seeing a deer in the wild. You know they’re in the woods, but you don’t see them all that often. When you do, you just kind of have to slow down and take in the moment.
So, the technician motions to his partner and he asks if he heard what I said. The partner is dark-skinned, definitely some kind of Indian/Arabic lineage (I didn’t ask him to specify). I told him what my landlord said and the guy, with a face which would have been expressionless were it not for an ever-so-slight angry sneer, just shook his head and said, “He’s lucky he’s not here right now.”
Then he tells me a story about how earlier in the day, he was installing something for some white lady. He was outside of her window running some wires, and he overhears part of the woman’s conversation with another man in the house. He heard the woman say something to the effect of, “down the towers.” He only caught part of it. The man she was speaking to said, “The towers? What towers are you talking about?” The lady answered that question by simply pointing at the Indian/Arabic guy working to make sure she can watch Cupcake Wars. Oh, those Towers. Right.
I ask the guy, “Really? That’s insane. It was that obvious?”
“Yeah. But, what can I do? If I confront the lady or say anything back, she could complain and I could lose my job. I couldn’t really do anything.”
“Wow. That is just awful.”
With that, the three of us fell into an awkward silence. Not much else could have been said. The technician told me where he was going to run the wires, and I asked him how he was going to do it. He started to explain, and now I have DirecTV. It’s awesome.