From time to time, I like to write about things that would only happen to me, or are totally bizarre. Today gave me one of those experiences. First- let me tell you a little back story....
In 2003 we bought a HD tv when they first came out. It weighs 123 lbs. We had been talking about getting a new tv for a few months and found a great deal on amazon.com for a 46" Samsung tv, with no tax, free shipping, a free Blu-Ray player and 1 free HDMI cable. So we ordered it. The tv is being delivered by "white glove" courier tomorrow where they come in and set it up...all that fun stuff. To make room for the new tv, we had to move the old 123lb behemoth to the basement, which required the assistance of our next door neighbor. In the meantime we moved our tiny 20-some inch tv (that I bought "off the shelf" in college) into the family room. It's like musical tvs.
So here's where the strange part begins. We have a HD cable box from Comcast that is really out of date. Recently it started powering off whenever it felt like it. It especially liked to shut off when I was about 60 minutes into a on-demand movie. Whenever it did this, there was no memory of where the movie stopped so I would have to start over and fast forward to where the power went off. So with the new tv coming, we thought "enough was enough" and wanted to exchange the box for a new one with the HDMI outputs. So Mike called Comcast and they told him that we could just bring the box to a local office for an exchange.
Today I was going to be in Norristown so I thought I'd stop by the Comcast office there and make the exchange. I had never been to a Comcast office before, so I wasn't really sure what to expect...maybe something like a post office??? When I walked in the door, there were signs plastered everywhere to take a number. There was a little kiosk with 3 buttons- cable, internet, phone. So I selected "cable" and it spit out a ticket. Ahead of me was a WALL of plexi-glass, with about 6 customer service stations set up. Each station had a plexi-door box that you could only open one side at a time- like at a city bank. I'm thinking- is this Fort Knox???? I'm at COMCAST- right??? Over to the side they have a LOUNGE set up- with a computer, flat screen tv and 2 leather chairs. This is not making sense. All the bullet proof security plexi and they have about $4,000 worth of amenities set out for their customers enjoyment???
So my number is called, and there's a computerized voice that says " number zero, three, five" and there's a flashing sign above the station that I have to go to. So I have my "old" cable box in a beach bag and I approach the plexi wall and I don't really see a microphone thingy- like how they are at the movies. There's actually more plexiglass layered with a round cutout so you can "hear" each other. So I tell the lady that I want to exchange my "old" HD box for a new one with HDMI outputs. She then goes on to tell me that even with the HDMI box, I won't get any better picture quality. HUH??? I explain that we purchased a new tv with the HDMI plugs and I'd like a new box. So she tells my to put the old cable box through the door.
In the meantime a crazy lady comes in and wants to pay $20 towards her cable bill, so she starts spouting off her account number and says she'll be back with the other $100 on Saturday. Where AM I????
Lilly is climbing all over the leather chairs and keeps pulling at my shirt to show me Kung Fu Panda (she's never seen it, so how she knows what it is- I have no clue). My customer service lady comes back with a new -shrinkwrapped- cable box plus an HDMI cable. She sends it through the plexi door and has me sign an exchange receipt.
First I was shocked at how simple the transaction was. For all the nonsense that the cable company USUALLY makes you go through, this was a piece of cake. Then I thought about the bizarre land that I just entered and was just confused about the dichotomy of plexiglass security and leather chairs.