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December 18, 2004
SO very very cableless... when the cable people arrived the first time, somewhere between two and six a few weeks ago, they just noticed that my apartment had a cable leading into the rooms, but that there was no information coming in it. I was connected to a dry end of the information pipeline. What the cable people also noticed that it was dark outside and that what they needed was light, to see where the information flow was interrupted. Apparently there was a box outside the building, in the garden of my downstairs neighbors and in order for me to get cable service, I would need to allow access to that garden. I do not actually want to watch television. I might get a set some day, maybe, again, that little visual candy box that just keeps on giving. For now I would just like to have internet access over cable (again), be connected to that other information drug, the same one you are looking at right now, the fast way. My neighbors downstairs are some of the nicest people I know. They are a very polite kind of British friendly family. I think there are three kids in the family, though so far I have only seen two skateboards and two of those razor scooters. (Maybe the third kid has some other sort of superpowers.) I scared the parents a little bit when I showed up last friday night, right after work, with my black jacket, the heavy bag still over my shoulder. I was first greeted with an open wallet, as I had been mistaken for the delivery guy, then both of the parents came out to hear my plea to maybe be there the following day, just so the cable people can walk into the garden and flip some switch. I guess this was when I realized that my neighbors were incredibly friendly. Their reaction was just so much more friendly than what I had expected. I congratulated them on the garden, they congratulated me on the view and the access to the roof. (Which I really do not have.) "You can always go to the roof and enjoy the new years' fireworks," my neighbor said. "Well, you know, I had to sign in the lease that I would only go to the roof in the case of an emergency." "I think looking at new years' fireworks could count as just that." I did not want to disappoint my new British friends, but the only time New York really goes out to burn a lot of fireworks is on fourth of July... On New Years Eve... No fireworks for New Yorkers. (At least outside of some few secret firework firing ranges somewhere in the depths of Chinatown.) My neighbors stayed at home on Saturday, I stayed here last Saturday, and when the two cable men arrived, at around three pm, they only noticed that the mysterious cable box they needed to switch on my service, was located in the garden of the building next door. One both cable men went to knock on the door of my mystery next garden neighbor... but nobody answered the door... no cable for me. My next appointment was scheduled for today. My homework was to let the people next door know that my cable people were coming... I told about my homework to my friendly neighbor downstairs. She simply replied: "Oh, that should be no problem, they are so friendly." But of course. Everybody here in Park Slope was super friendly. And happy. And kind. Magic. I wrote down the name of the doorbell marked with #1 in the building next door. I then had one of the toughest weeks of the year. And so yesterday, maybe around 7PM, I had decided to finally call the friendly people, ask them if they would happen to be at home today, and if they would let the friendly cable guys flip that magic switch. The name I had written down was not listed. Not anywhere in Brooklyn. There were so many L's and also some N's in the name, and so I was pretty sure that I got it all wrong, I ran home as quickly as I could, to just ring that bell in person. I probably arrived around 8:30 or so... There I was, at the door, I pressed the name, it was very soft, that's all it did, it gave in, in a very soft way, that backlit name, marked number one... "Who is this?" (Now the name was also the voice of a woman.) "Hello, my name is Witold Riedel, and I am your neighbor next door. I just moved in and I was about to have my cable service activated. Unfortunately the box for the cable is located in your garden, and so I was wondering if you would be home tomorrow... some time during the..." "You know what? No. I will not be home tomorrow... I will be out." "Oh, I understand... maybe on a different day?, maybe?..." "Well, not until probably way after Christmas..." "Oh, okay. I understand." "You know what. I do not anybody come into my garden. Not now and not later. What building are you from? That one that is closer to Seventh Avenue?" "Oh, I am actually in the building to the other side. You know... 485... " (I so wished I had remembered the name of my new British friends... but I did not...) "No, you may not enter my garden. Tell the cable people to put a box onto your building. I do not want to see anybody here. I already do this for all the people in my building. Now I am supposed to do this for other too? ....No." I looked at the four names glowing at me for a little while. I then went home, next door. Walked up my several flights of stairs. No wonder people across the backyard were getting satellite dishes. The box in that lady's garden is probably shared by several of the buildings here. She is the protector of the airwaves, the shield from HBO for some, a giant pothole in the information superhighway for others. I called Time Warner Cable and had a good laugh with them. My operator has not heard such story yet. She asked me if I maybe at least tried to give the lady some cookies. She then offered to speak to her supervisor (she really did.) I was called back with a phone number of an organization called "Right of Way." Apparently a division of Time Warner that is responsible in resolving such special cases. "Are they going to send her some cookies?" I asked. I woke up this morning realizing how rude I actually had been. Christmas is coming up, the woman probably has a job, this is the last weekend before the holidays and a stranger rings her bell just to ask if she could stay home for him so he can watch some cable television? Clearly a crazy request. So now I feel bad. I am going to send the lady a Christmas card, apologizing. I wil also look into some satellite service. Though I will need to talk to my landlord about that. Well, and figure out which one of the dishes on the roof across the backyard look best... though wait, I will not get to see that thing anyway. Or should I just do DSL? Did the first tenants of this apartment have the same problems? "Will we go with gas light or maybe have electricity installed after all?..." "Go away, I am not going to let anybody into my garden to install that electricity stuff..." I wonder what will be the next thing that will come to the house via cable... but maybe nothing more... maybe that's it. Maybe this is the very last hour of cables... at least in gardens, perhaps.