Monday, October 26, 2009

"Installing and Configuring The Fahm's Dish Network HD DVR" or, "Why Be a Dish Guy If You're Afraid of Heights?"

Saturday, while I was washing dinner dishes from the night before and the morning's breakfast dishes, doing 8 loads of laundry, filling the kitchen wood box, replenishing the kindling carrier, sweeping the kitchen floor to get up the worst of wood/leaf/log/ash detritus, and keeping the kitchen fire burning NO MATTER WHAT, Raj was having an entirely *different* set of adventures. After some deep confusion on the part of the Dish people, we were finally to have our Dish Network HD DVR installed, and Raj was especially primed for that; Celtics season opener is thundering down the lane toward us (tomorrow night, as a matter of fact), and he was getting a little antsy. The Dish Man arrived at the very last minute of his time window (when else?) in an unmarked minivan, honking, and for the hundredth time in a week, Raj and I murmured to one another chagrined, "We really need to get some street numbers to put on that mailbox!" before letting him in.

As I've mentioned, it was rainy and cold and windy but what's a little rain and cold after all to a New Englander when there's work to be done? David O. gave us a call, wanting to know if Raj would work with him to clear more of the downed trees straddling the two properties. It meant working with a gas-powered chain saw, and since Raj is never one to pass up that opportunity, I told him I would deal with the Dish Man. He put on my dad's old red windbreaker, pulled up the hood over his woolen watch cap, donned his work boots, then splashed off, whistling.

I was in the kitchen minding my own business, going back and forth between chores while listening to Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! on WBUR (Boston's Public Radio Station!) when it suddenly occurred to me that I hadn't heard any sounds coming from the Dis (that's a typo but it's staying) Man for what seemed like a very long time though earlier I had seen him go past the house carrying his very tall, yellow, sturdy-looking aluminum ladder.  I was just going to check on him when he emerged looking somewhat strained, from the French Room, asking me to telephone Raj.  As I turned to reach for the phone Raj walked into the kitchen via the coal room, soaked to the skin, announcing brightly, "Hey! It's RAINING out there!"

The Dish Man pulled Raj aside for a whispered consultation before both disappeared toward the back of the house. Moments later I saw Raj go toward the barn before reappearing with Frank's very old, tall, rickety-looking wooden ladder (the scofflaw roofer made off with The Fahm's very tall, sturdy aluminum ladder but that's a whole 'nother Better Business Bureau issue) and heading back toward the French Room.

Raj told me the rest of the story after the Dish Man finally - and wearily - departed from The Vortex (aka The Fahm), too traumatized to do anything other than wave weakly at me as he drove away. 

As I think I've mentioned, it was rainy and cold.  The Fahm, as it happens, has very high and steeply pitched roofs, and, our particular Dish Man, as it also happens, is afraid of heights. The Dish Man asked if Raj wouldn't mind going up to the roof and adjusting the dish since Dish Man didn't feel it was safe for him to go up and do the adjusting.  This struck Raj as a rather odd request but being the good sport - and mountain goat - he agreed to climb right up the very old, tall, rickety-looking wooden ladder which he had leaned against the face of the house. But first, Raj and Dish Man spent 20 minutes using a rope as a hoist to get the ladder positioned where Dish Man thought it should be.  Raj finally got up to the dish and sat up there in the rain tweaking it, doing his best to follow Dish Man's less-than-descriptive instructions. Sample:

Dish Man: "Just turn it a little bit."
Raj: "Okay - I'm seeing at some numbers on the dial here..."
Dish Man: "You don't need to use those numbers."
Raj: "But,uh..."
Dish Man: "C'mon, just turn it a little bit, man!"
Raj: "OK. I turned it a little bit. Anything?"
Dish Man: "No. Not yet. Just turn it a little bit."
Raj: "OK. I turned it a little bit. Anything?"
Dish Man: "No. Not yet. Just turn it a little bit."
Raj: "OK. I turned it a little bit. Anything?"
Dish Man: "No. Not yet. Just turn it a little bit."


As Raj had plenty of time to take in his surroundings while sitting on the roof in the rain tweaking the dial, he happened to glance across the roof toward the back of the house where lo and behold: there was Dish Man's very tall, yellow, sturdy-looking aluminum ladder, leaning against the rear of the house. As Dish Man had never actually mentioned that ladder to Raj - even as he watched Raj haul the wooden one from the barn before leaning it against the front of The Fahm, and struggled with him to position it, Raj found that odd as well. Adding insult to injury, the devised method was not at all successful in getting adequate signal; after just over an hour of sitting on the roof in the cold windy rain, Raj came back down. Dish Man was very discouraged. Raj was very determined.

What followed were lengthy negotiations between Dish Man, Dish HQ, and Raj; apparently Dish Man is compensated PER JOB and per diem, not per hour. Raj couldn't help but overhear - as Dish Man spent interminable minutes on the phone with Dish HQ - that Dish Man was trying to convince Dish HQ to implement their "Inclement Weather" measures. Implementing such measures would mean that Dish Man would be compensated right away for our job as if he had finished the job, and then he would receive additional pay for the same job, when he returned to finish the job after the weather was not so inclement. Raj got on the phone with them and argued for Dish Man's dispensation. Dish HQ wasn't having any of it. Dish Man was even more discouraged. Raj was just as determined.

Raj hung up the phone and looked at Dish Man. Dish Man rolled his eyes skyward and heaved a deep, deep sigh. He turned around resignedly, stepped outside to the back of the house, climbed right up his ladder, adjusted the dish, and within moments, had acquired sufficient signal. Dish Man, not at all happy that he had ended up on what he clearly viewed as "Suicide Roof," slunk down from the ladder, and returned to the French Room (for what we all hoped was the final time) with visibly quaky knees.


Raj gathered up all the cash we had in the house and raided the Accord's ashtray for coin so we could give him a tip.  We hadn't been to the bank yet, and had paid Chip in cash just the afternoon before, so Dish Man's tip came to the grand sum of only $20 - in singles, a $5 bill, a $10 bill and $1 coins.  He appreciated the gesture though, and could certainly see that we had given him everything we had on hand.  Raj and I haven't independently tested the DVR function yet but we will, and before tomorrow night's 7:30 p.m. EDT tip-off against the Cavs!