When Melanie and I first moved in to our current apartment approximately two years ago, we discovered we had cable television. We were under the strong impression that our apartment did not come with cable, but there it was—roughly 80 channels to choose from. Initially, this made me nervous. Had the people who lived in our apartment before us simply failed to turn off their cable? Even worse, did the previous tenants have illegal cable from which we were now benefiting? Would it catch up with us if we did nothing about it? All I did was plug my television set into the wall. If 80 channels were available to me, what fault was it of mine?
As time went on, my anxiety subsided. Surely, I thought, our apartment just comes with basic cable. It is just one of the amenities of living in a self-proclaimed “luxury apartment complex.” Nothing about this seemed far-fetched. I’ve known several people whose apartment complexes did include free cable. I figured I must have misunderstood the leasing office when they told me what I needed to do if I wanted to get cable. Presumably, they were just talking about fancier cable packages, what to do if I wanted to upgrade and get things like HBO and Showtime.
Such was my thought process. Naïve? Perhaps. But I really believed it, especially after a few months went by. Fast forward to this afternoon, and guess who should knock on my door? An employee of Comcast.
“Yes?” I said, peeking out from behind my front door.
“I just need to know if you want to keep your cable,” the Comcast employee replied. “It was never requested that it be turned on, so if you want to keep it, you just need to pay $30 and fill out some paperwork.”
I was baffled. “You mean, I’m not supposed to have cable??? I’ve lived here for two years and have always had cable!”
“Nope, it was never supposed to be turned on. Do you want to keep it?”
I was stunned. Nearly 24 months of cable television and now that my apartment is filled with moving boxes, someone is showing up and asking me if I want to pay $30 to keep it? “Um … well … no, I guess not. I’m moving out in a week and a half.”
The Comcast employee looked me over momentarily before putting a pen to his clipboard. “Tell you what,” he said, jotting down some notes as he spoke. “Since you’re moving out so soon, I’ll just keep it on until you’re gone. But I’m telling them that I’m turning it off today.”
Humbly, I stared back at the man. “Okay. Thanks, man. Have a good night.”
I almost wrote about the mystery cable when I first moved in. Now I wish I had, just because it would be funny for those who might have remembered it. Of course, I know there are those who are thinking, “So why didn’t you just ask your leasing office about the cable in the first place?” Perhaps that would have been the smart thing to do. Or, if not smart, at least honest. And the honest response is that I probably didn’t want to lose the cable any sooner than I had to. And there was that tiny chance that I had simply misunderstood, a tiny chance that seemed to grow bigger and bigger by the week. 102 weeks later and I never would have guessed that I wasn’t supposed to have cable.
Fortunately, I won’t have to lose cable anytime in the near future, thanks not only to rule-bending Comcast employees, but to the fact that Melanie and I have applied for a Tallahassee apartment that includes free cable for the first year. Looks like it will be August 2009 before I’ll have to look for new ways to steal it.