A Race Against Time (Warner Cable)

I don’t mind waiting for the cable guy to arrive. Sure, you clear half the day only for him to be 30 minutes late, but it’s still better than grinding your teeth in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. When you are waiting at home, you can pursue more intellectual practices like trying to stack Oreos as high as you can on a coffee table — try doing that at the doctor’s office.

After a while, I surrendered all hope the cable guy would ever show and began humoring intricate scenarios in which saboteurs abducted the cable guy in exchange for outrageous demands. But then, like a cliche, the cable guy arrived a minute past eternity. His name was Bill. Bill was not the brightest bulb in the box.

“I’m Bill,” Bill said, smiling. “I’m the cable guy.”

Bill asked a series of questions, many of which did not revolve around cable-related issues, which seemed odd. “What time is it?” Bill asked. It was 6:30 p.m. Bill laughed. “Sorry I’m late. May I look in your attic now?”

“Yes you may,” I replied.

Bill went up into the attic and returned quickly. “Can I go outside?” he asked me.

“Yes, you may, Bill,” I responded.

Lord only knows what Bill did while out there, but when he reappeared inside minutes later, he was a lot sweatier than before. Finding no conceivable reason why any man would sweat that much in such short of a time, I asked Bill if it was raining outside. Bill said it was not.

“I’ve got some bad news for you,” Bill informed me. “I locked my keys in the cable van, and my tools are inside the van. My supervisor needs to drive out here with another key, which won’t be for another hour. I hate to ask, but do you mind if I wait inside with you?”

Do I mind? Now why would anyone mind spending time with a complete stranger inside their home — alone? For an hour! Of course, I minded. I minded a whole lot to tell you the truth. I’m sorry, but I’ve watched far too many “Forensic Files” to know this road could lead to a shallow grave or a roadside burial.

Nevertheless, I tapped into my cordial nature and offered Bill the hospitality he sought. And so began the most uncomfortable and awkward hour of my entire existence, sitting there on the couch (a steak knife under the cushions for safety) bantering back and forth with a guy named Bill, who was a cable guy — a very, very strange cable guy.

Now this brings up an ugly piece of information that I haven’t mentioned until now. This all happened the week that my truck’s transmission went out, not to mention the almighty Internet, TV and home telephone going out, too, which was why Bill blessed me with his ignorance to begin with. That’s right, no transportation, TV, World Wide Web or telephone for nearly one week. It was like living in the 18th century, except with less coonskin hats and musket loading involved.

However, the only problem with baby-sitting Bill (or as I call it, Billy-sitting) was that I promised my girlfriend, Christine, that I would pick her up at work at 8 p.m., after driving her there in her car earlier.

I had two options. I could either upset Christine or let Bill, the very strange cable guy, have the run of the house while I left to pick her up. In the end, I decided to keep an eye on Bill, mostly because my homeowner’s insurance policy doesn’t cover burglary.

Be that as it may, I still needed to call Christine’s workplace to inform her of these transpiring events. And since I throw away telephone books because any phone number can be found online, I tried searching Google before remembering I had no Internet or telephone to call with, for that matter.

A light bulb went off — I told Bill I needed something in the other room. Then I snuck outside my own home and ran down the street to my parents’ house where I called Christine. Rushed, I hoofed it back home again, snuck inside and went back into the living room.

Bill looked at me.

“Where did you go,” he asked. “And why are you so sweaty?”

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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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