We Heart T.V.

Usually, I leave my conclusions or morals (if one exists) for the end of a story.  Today, I will introduce my piece by writing, “Lying is a good thing when dealing with Comcast.”

TV couplesMy wife and I heart T.V..  It’s nothing to be ashamed of unless you decide that television is more important than your spouse. That’s a problem. We share a collective bargaining agreement as to what we watch and don’t watch together, and we have a television set upstairs and downstairs.  Thus, there is little to bicker about when she wishes to watch football and I wish to watch Desperate Housewives.  By the way, I love reading a good book or article, but c’mon . . . T.V. is brain dead wonderful.  A half hour sitcom can make me forget about the asshole cutting me off on the freeway that day.  And, for most of you people out there who claim you don’t watch T.V., you are mostly liars.  You just watch the same shows as us on your laptop, so get over it.

Desperately needing two new remote controls,  as ours are worn to the nub, I made a call to Comcast to order our extended hands.  It was a little trickier than expected.  Once gaining contact with Customer Service, I was greeted by a man who sounded like someone easy to communicate with, and he genuinely seemed interested in helping our plea.  Dealing with Comcast is not genuinely simple, but I had my hopes up this time.

Indeed, he did wish to assist me, but there was a minor glitch.  Since my wife’s name was the only one on the contract, he could only speak to her.  She signed up years before we were married.  Shot down by Comcast again.  Knowing my wife would be devastated to hear the news, (she has been asking me to do this for about the last four years) I prepared myself for a profanity laced tirade directed (mostly) at Comcast.  Now, a simple solution would be telling my wife she has to call.  This is where I really wanted to help.  You see, my wife works 13 hour shifts at the steel mill and when she comes home, filthy, sweaty, smelly and surly, the last thing she wants to do is call Comcast.   Therefore, I thought I’d try something I’d never done before.  Posing as my wife, I would call Comcast back.

Luckily, someone different answered from Customer Service, so I had that in my favor. Also, I thought it was in my favor that a man answered again.  Believe it or not, men tend to be a little more sensitive regarding critical moments in a person’s life when said person loses or destroys their remote control.  Richard, from Customer Service, was my man that day.

Richard:  Customer Service, this is Richard, how may I help you?

Me: (Keep in mind, I decided not to attempt a woman’s voice.  I thought I’d play my lie straight.) Hello Richard, I need to order two new remote controls.  I’ve had an account with you for years.

Richard: (Sounding like he was having a good day or close to ending his shift.) Ok, no problem.  I just need some information.  Last name please.

Me: Gannon

Richard:  Ok, Mr. Gannon, first name?

Me:  Oh, that’s Mrs. Gannon.  I’m sorry, I have laryngitis so I sound a little silly.  My first name is Brittney, but my maiden name was Young.  I believe that is what the account is under.

Richard: (Sounding a little rattled)  Uh, ok, I’m very sorry ma’am…….um…..alrighty, here we are.  Date of birth?

(BOOM! This was an easy one since I pick up my wife’s medications at the local pharmacy on a daily basis, and they always ask for her birth date.)

Me:  1/13/78

Richard:  Great.  Last four digits of your Social Security?

(uh oh……I have no idea what her S.S.N. is)

Me:  Uh….yeah, I need to get out of bed to get that……. I’m sorry, I just don’t have it off the top of my head right now and I’m feeling a little……

Richard: Wait, it’s ok, how about your mother’s maiden name?

Me: Gonzales….and that’s with a Z.

Richard:  No problem ma’am.  Those should be shipped to you within three working days.

Me: (With relief) Thank you so much, Richard.  My husband and I really appreciate this.  Oh, and by the way, may I place his name on the account?

Richard:  Absolutely!  I just need a little information.

Richard asks the typical questions….. first name, last name, date of birth, blah blah blah, but the last was my favorite.

Richard:  Oh gosh, I’m sorry, I really do need the last four digits of his social security number before entering him on the account.  If he calls to question a bill, someone will ask for it.

Me: (Faster than a random hiccup, and sounding as if I’d been studying and memorizing the numbers to my husband’s social security number for the last twenty three years of my life, the numbers flew out of my lips as smooth as a George W. Bush mispronunciation) 1234.

Richard:  You’re all set.  Anything else we can do for you?

At that moment, I thought I could talk him into free cable for the next six months, but I didn’t want to press my luck or spew additional lies on this sacred day of finally being pleased with Comcast. On that day, Richard was my ComChrist.  Three days later, it was Christmas for my husband……..I mean my wife.

It was the second time in my life I had sinned by telling a lie.  I didn’t steal anything, I didn’t kill anyone, and as far as I’m concerned, on that day, Richard was my neighbor, and I loved him.

TV Heart

Play Fair

The Kentucky Derby is right around the corner and on its home stretch, but I lived another  stretch several times in Spokane, Washington.  The stretch started with confession, followed by lying, and ended at a horse track known as (quite ironically) Playfair.

Probably seven years old at the time, I maintained morals and specific values.  However, (forgive me father) I did sin at that pivotal age.  I was willing to tell a lie, but two of my brothers and my father were not satisfied with my less than adequate fib.  Nor was the Catholic Priest.

You see, at this age, I swear, my only sins were lying in the confessional.  The priest asks you to reveal your sins.

Confess your sins, my son.

Is playing wiffle ball in the backyard a sin?

No, but did you intentionally hit anyone in the face with the bat?

Not intentionally.

Who did you “not intentionally” hit with a bat?

A neighbor.

Was he a good Catholic boy like you?

No.  He was a friendly neighborhood Mormon.

Oh, that’s definitely not a sin!

Father, can you just give me another week.  I’ll try my best to do some sinning?

Yes, my son.  Do you have any plans for the weekend?

My dad’s taking us to the race track right after I get out of here.

Ok.  That’s a great start.  I see great and powerful sinning in your future.  You will have much to talk about in our next meeting.

Perfect.  (off to begin my life of sinning) I promise you… next week this conversation won’t be so BORING!

Good.  Go in peace to love and sin for the Lord.

I did indeed go in peace, but, from my standpoint, committed a sin just hours after my dismissal.

Providing our mother a much needed break from some of her children, dad would take us to the race track for the last two races for two reasons:  free admission and he loved gambling on the horses.  (this was to be my first time to attend)  Yet, there was only one reason my two older siblings, ages eleven and thirteen did not want me tagging along.  I was only seven and to be allowed into one of the dirtiest racetracks in the nation, you must be ten.  What terrific standards they set at the track when a boy must be at least the age of ten before witnessing jockeys, trainers, owners and many of the gamblers cheating.  Seven?  “No, wait until you are ten boy before you witness such heathen like behavior.”  Since only seven at the time, I knew this presented a problem collectively for all of us going to the track.  If I can’t get in, no one gets in.  Not my dad, not my brothers and certainly not me.  Bless my wonderful father, because, much to the dismay of my brothers, he wasn’t going to leave me at home, and he was going to teach me a lesson and provide material for my next confessional visit.

Dad said to me, “Ben, I want to take you with us to the track, but by the looks on your brothers’ faces, they don’t want you to be a part of this, because if you don’t learn how to tell a lie, we can’t get in, and I can’t leave you in the car waiting, even though your brothers wouldn’t mind me doing so, understand?”

“I guess, but what do you mean by lying?  Is this like one of those phony fairy tales you weave before bedtime, or is this going to be a mortal sin?”

Patiently, and almost excitedly, dad said, “no, don’t worry about that mortal sin stuff, this is just a white lie, and it will keep you from getting beaten up by your older brothers who are begging me to leave you at home.”

My first chance at sinning, oh boy!  “What do I have to do?”

“Well, you’re seven, right?” (I don’t think he knew any of his children’s ages, but he guessed right)

“Right, dad.”

“All you have to do, when we are walking by the booth, and some swarthy man is asking for your age, just tell him you are ten.  Then, legally, he can allow your entrance.  And, believe me, he doesn’t care.  He just wants our money once we get in.”

Painfully, I had to think about this for just a few short moments, but this was my first negotiated lie.  “Dad, I’ll tell him I’m nine!” According to me, it was my first lie.

My two older brothers looked at dad and me with disgust, hands in the air and eyes rolling, but my loving father quickly extinguished the flames by saying, “hey guys, how about going to Chico’s Pizza for some pinball and at least two pies?”


Food was much more enticing to our family than gambling.  My brothers never laid a finger on me, and I could admit at my next visit to the priest that I was at least willing to tell a lie.

Today, I don’t have to lie about my age, but when asked for age identification, all I have to do is take off my baseball cap.  I don’t like telling people I’m forty.

Have fun watching the Derby.