Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – New Bloggers on the Scene – Melanie M. Stewart -The Cable Debacle (2019)

This series of Posts from Your Archives is exclusively for blogs that are under a year old. It is an opportunity to meet new readers and to show off your writing skills.. All the details are in this post along with some tips on how to make your blog more reader friendly.

This is the second post of Melanie Stewart who blogs at Leaving the Door Open: A Daughter’s stories about an aging parent. Sharing Tips and facts learned along the way. In this post Melanie is faced with a logistical nightmare to get on the road for a trip and deal with a sudden change to her 87 year old mother, Ginny’s cable set up.

The Cable Debacle.

Dennis and I are just completing a 3-day visit with Ginny when she receives a notice from the cable company. They will be converting their signal to digital for all Florida customers and her zip code is next. Apparently, she will need different converter boxes to pick up that new signal.

Although they are giving her a month’s notice, we know that we will not be back before the switch. As much as I am longing to hit the I-4 traffic before it gets ugly on a Friday, we have to tackle this exchange first. (You may remember that in order to save money, I had handled the switch from one carrier to another. Ginny’s account is under my phone number, so I need to be the one to get the boxes.)

And just to throw in a cruel twist of fate, they’ve moved their offices this week. It’s complete chaos. Dennis and I get to their office by 9:30 am. Too late. There are so many people, there is a woman with a clipboard by the door taking names. I give her my name. They have chairs lined up outside and a big tub of cold water bottles. It’s Florida. Luckily, there’s a fast outside rotation and we get to grab the last two of thirty seats inside.

We watch as numerous people go up to the counter, then leave with their digital prizes. Finally, it’s our turn. The woman is pleasant. I provide my phone number.

“Ok, your number does pull up Ginny XYZ. Is she here?” she asked.

“No”, I reply “she’s 87 and hard of hearing. I’m taking care of this for her.”

“Well, unfortunately, it looks like you are not authorized on the account” she informs me. “You mother would have to be here to receive the converter boxes.”

“How can this be?” I ask.

“It’s my phone number on the account. I stood in this spot a year ago with my mother and we opened the account” I shared, getting frustrated. “She can’t deal with this” and I wave my arm around the chaotic room.

“I completely understand” she responds sympathetically. And then, she surprised me.

She slid a small piece of paper towards me and lowered her voice.

“Here, call this number. It’s customer service. Say that you are your mother and you are authorizing to have your daughter on the account” she explained, looking at me. “And when you’re done, come back here.”

I get it and nod. I am hardly someone who enjoys perpetrating a fraud, but there are times in life when you have to use common sense to cut through the BS. This will expedite the process enormously.

I sheepishly walk into a corner of the room, make the call and return to her counter.

“Oh, good, I see you’re listed on the account” and we both share a laugh. “How can I help you?”

We return to Ginny’s apartment and I realize I have made a fatal mistake. I thought Ginny’s bedroom television was a flat screen, but it’s a much older model. The box I got will not work.

We have run out of time on this project and I accept that I will have to have a service call to complete her bedroom set-up. But for now, the old signal will continue to work in that room. We are able to get her living room television hooked up and the new remote control is programmed and activated.

“Is that a new remote?” my mother asks with concern.

“Yes. We have to use it for your television to work mom.”

I sit next to her and explain that the button marked TV is her on-off button. Aside from the channels or volume, she doesn’t have to touch any other button. I do not share any information about the cable button turning on and off the box. My plan is to keep the box on at all times to make it easier for her.

We practice using the remote. She enters the numbers of the channels she likes and everything is working well.

When we get into the car, Dennis asks “How long before we get a phone call about that remote?” I burst out laughing.

It actually takes several hours. About 6:00 pm, mom calls. Apparently she hit the “cable” on-off button and turned the box off. I walk her through turning the box back on and then the television.

Getting creative with tape

Concerned, however, I check up on her the next day and she is watching television in her bedroom.

“It’s not working, but I’ll just stay in the bedroom” she said.

“No, mom, that’s not right. You have to be able to spend time in your living room. Go out there now while I’m on the phone and let’s try again.”

We go through the steps again, but this time there is a moment of understanding.

“Oh, the pretty green lights are back” she shares.

“Yes!” I explain that the lights are part of the cable box and you have to see the lights to know the box is on.

“Well, you didn’t say that before” she replies.

In truth, this was an ongoing issue despite the lights. As you can see, we tried tape too, but to no avail. We eventually learned that patience was the primary culprit. It takes about 10 seconds for the t.v. screen to light up and she was giving it 3 before hitting other buttons.

TIP: This can be helpful if you are not a fast drive over to your parent(s).

  • Take photos of the:
  • Television remote
  • Dishwasher panel
  • Thermostat
  • Microwave panel
  • CD Player (front and back for plugs)

When a confused parent calls about a device, you can refer to the photos to better troubleshoot over the phone.

Thanks to Melanie for these tips.. going back a few years with my own mother in her 90s, we had plenty of shenanigans with multiple devices..Television with too many channels, CD player and a cable box with additional remote.. buying a combined remote did help somewhat, and we found one with extra large letters and numbers..If you have any stories please share in the comments.

@Melanie M. Stewart 2019

About Melanie M. Stewart.

Many years ago, I worked as a freelance writer for a local paper in suburban Chicago. I covered everything from cloning & measuring the risk of heart disease to my “Day in the Life” series where I spent the day with a veterinarian or watching “behind the scenes” at a popular restaurant.

Then I went to work for (online obituaries). I stayed there for almost nine years. I enjoyed helping customers navigate the site and at times, offer support during a highly emotional time.

This blog combines these two experiences. They are non-fiction stories pulled from my own experiences navigating the aging parent years. I also provide informational links and tips as well as the opportunity for you to share your story.

I have no professional background in psychology or senior healthcare. I’m just in it day-to-day. I’m married and a mom who enjoys a good laugh, a good mystery/thriller and watching the Chicago Cubs.

Connect to Melanie


It would be great if you would head over to Melanie’s blog and follow her there and on Twitter.. Thanks Sally.

38 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – New Bloggers on the Scene – Melanie M. Stewart -The Cable Debacle (2019)

  1. Not only can I relate, I had the exact same experience in Montreal! From the employee who wouldn’t deal with me at first to Remote control 101 classes, I have been there with my mother. Happy to report she now only occasionally turns off the cable along with the TV.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Great tip about taking photos of everything! In my grandma’s later stages of dementia we would g to her room and find her watching the Weather Channel. At first, I thought she couldn’t remember how to use the remote, so I switched to a network channel and explained how to go up and down the channels. Next day, same thing- Weather Channel. It took me a while to figure out she was connecting with whatever it was they were showing on there. I left it alone after that 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    • Believe it or not, I am not a very patient person! It is something I try to work on because it’s one of my worst traits. (I think my mom knows this and has found a way to continue helping me with some life lessons, haha.) Thanks for reading the story.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Oh, Melanie, this made me laugh and groan. I’ve been through this so many times in the past year, I can’t even begin to count. If you and I came up with technology that was easy for “old people,” we’d be rich. My parents struggle with remotes and they constantly push the wrong buttons. My dad called because he messed up the tv. I was trying to explain how to get it back on, and he couldn’t find the “input” button. He read me the buttons on the remote, including one called “talk.” He was pushing buttons on the PHONE. Ha ha. Groan. Oh, can I relate so well. Thanks for the share, Sally.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Thank you for the tipps, and the in part funny story. I can relate, and remote controls are my special devices. 😉 Some months ago I bought a so called “universal remote control”, with over hundred codes inside. I was so happy getting this one for ony 7.– Euro. Now the sad thing. There was a booklet attachend, and should help finding the right code for the available device. Till now I tested all, but it was only in parts functionally. I think now I will buy “Alexa”, and try to use speech recognition (with our famous Bavarian-upper palatian dialect) LoL Best wishes, Michael

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Weekly Round Up – A Fairy Story, Evergreen, Chocolate, Health, New Books and Reviews oh and a lot of laughter.. | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

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