I think the person who lived in my house before me was in a co-dependent relationship with the cable company, Cable One. And when she moved out…the cable company decided I would be a suitable replacement for that relationship. However, when I moved in I was in no position, nor had the desire, to spend $100 a month on cable, TiVo, pay-per-view, internet, and a land line. Apparently this lackadaisical attitude about media just didn’t fly with Cable One, who subsequently misdirected its co-dependent feelings and has taken to stalking me.
But before we get into that, let me give you some background. When the last tenant vacated, she also cancelled all of her accounts, which apparently where vast and numbered like the stars. This must have been a real blow to Cable One, as if their girlfriend just dumped them or something. Then I come along in the midst of this breakup and don’t even attempt to assuage Cable One’s pain by signing up for a simple little 30 channel package, let alone fill the gaping hole left behind by the previous tenant.
I can understand why Cable One was upset. I really can. But it’s just not my problem and I refuse to be their rebound relationship. However, instead of dealing with rejection like grown-ups do, Cable One decided that if they could get me to sign up for their services it would somehow prove that they were still valuable and desirable and someone out there still loved them. I think there’s a psychological term for these misdirected feelings, but I don’t know what it’s called.
Anyway, the stalking started small, with mail. First it was a letter that showed up shortly after I moved in. It literally said “We really miss you! Did we do something wrong? Please come back.” (Miss me? They never HAD me! That should have been my first clue that things would only get worse). When that didn’t work they sent me flashy multi-page mailers, as if to say “Hey look! We’ve changed! We’re better now. See all the new wonderful things we have to offer?” Of course, that didn’t work either. The stalking continued on in this kind of pathetic and harmless way for about a year and a half. And then it was quiet for a while. At that point I thought maybe Cable One had finally come to terms with the situation and moved one. I was wrong.
You know when you get a check in the mail, and it’s got that blue stuff on the back and it’s perforated along three edges and you have to tear it open because no one ever wants to make getting money easy? It was just like that. The same shape. The same size. The same colors. The same 3-sided perforation. It came in the mail one day, and although I wasn’t expecting a check from anyone, I certainly wasn’t going to turn down free money.
So OF COURSE I opened it. Who wouldn’t? But all that effort spent on tearing it open was met, not with the reward of money, but with a CABLE ONE FLYER. It wasn’t even a fake check that said “Good for $30 when you sign up!” It was a straight-up advertising flyer hidden in check-packaging. Cable One had resorted to flat out lies and trickery to get my attention. This obsession was getting unhealthy. I got about 3 or 4 more “fake checks” this spring, and I’m not sure why Cable One thought this trick would work more than once. I mean, really. Really? Send me a fake check from the same exact return address every time? Like I’m not going to figure that out? It would have been insulting if it wasn’t so pathetic.
Then one day about a month ago I came home to find a flyer attached to my door knob. You might guess who it was from. Scrawled along the bottom in bubbly handwriting it said “Call me to set up an account! – Laurie.” Oh my god. Cable One had sent a real, actual person to my house. What if I had been home? Maybe this Laurie person would have pushed her way into my house and tied me up to a chair until I promised to sign up for services. Maybe she would have killed me just to end the obsession. Stalking is scary stuff people, and Cable One had just progressed from sending me letters and fake checks to actually invading my private property. I was really creeped out.
After that I started to notice this gray mini-van driving up and down my street, as though lost. And when I say street, that’s a euphemism for “private alley” because that’s pretty much what my street amounts to. No one drives down it on accident. But I didn’t really put two and two together until it was too late.
This past weekend was Labor Day. Also known as a great time to hang out at home and start a big-ass project like painting the house. So there I was, upside down and wedged between the bushes, contorted into an amazingly advanced yoga pose, wearing goggles and applying primer to the underside of some piece of siding when I heard a car pull up. I got excited thinking maybe it was one of my friends or family, someone I liked come to keep me company or lend a hand. I extricated myself from the complicated painting position I had gotten into, scraping myself on bushes and exposed nails in the process. As I stood up, I didn’t see a happy familiar car, but rather the gray mini-van that had been seen driving up and down our street the past couple weeks. Out stepped a woman. She approached tentatively at first, as though uncertain if this was the right house…like she might be asking for directions.
I waited, frozen and unsure of whether to be friendly or go on the defensive. Jehovah’s Witness? Sales person? Lost football fan looking for the stadium? Wait. What was that in her hand? A flyer? I recognized the colors on that flyer. I had seen those colors before. But by the time I had realized what was happening, it was too late.
Woman: “Hi there!”
Me: “Uh. Hi.”
Woman: “I never heard back from you. I was just wondering if you got my flyer?”
Me: “Um…I’m sorry…what flyer? Do I know you?”
Woman: “The flyer I left on your door a couple weeks ago.”
Woman: (in a tone that implied I should already know this) “I’m Laurie, from Cable One.”
Me: (feeling suddenly panicky) “…OK. Yeah. But I’m really not interested in cable. I hardly watch TV.”
Woman: “What about the internet. Surely you use that?”
Me: “Not really. I just go to the coffee shop.”
Woman: “But the package comes with land line service too!”
Me: “I just use my cell phone. Look, I’m sorry, but I’m not interested.”
Woman: “…..?” (I think that was when something broke inside her head).
Me: “No. Thank. You.”
Woman: (desperately trying to make conversation) “So, I see you’re painting your house huh.”
Woman: “I’m putting on a new roof. Blah blah blah blah blah” (fill that in with about two minutes of her talking about her roof)
Me: “OK then.”
Woman: “Um. Well, thanks for your time.”
Then she walked back to her gray van looking confused and hurt. At least she didn’t try to tie me up to a chair and make me say I was sorry and that I was wrong and that I wouldn’t ever leave again. That’s something I guess. I really hope this put an end to the whole thing. But, who knows, there’s always tomorrow…