Recently I had a "conversation" with my cable company because I enjoy punishing my brain. Actually, it was less of a conversation and more of a battle. I wanted one simple, stupid thing: to cancel a movie package that jumped in price after a promotion ended. In retrospect it's probably easier getting a family of badgers out of your walls.
Mysterious male voice: "Hello Mr. Van Der Walter my name is Brian how can I help you today?"
Me: "Actually, it's Van De Walle."
Brian: "I'm so sorry, Mr. Van Walle."
Me: "It's Van Denever mind."
Brian: "How can I help you today Mr. Van De Nevermind?
Me: "Cute, Brian. I'd like to cancel my subscription to your premium movie package."
Brian: "I'm so sorry to hear that, Mr. Walle. Can I ask why?"
Me: "Kind of nosey, but okay. You're charging me $50 more per month for channels I don't really watch. For zero dollars I can afford to ignore them. For $50 per month I'm afraid I'd have to spend a lot more time watching movies, which is something my wife has pointed out will not happen."
Brian: "I'm sorry to hear that."
Me: "Yes, I can hear the pain in your trained, scripted response."
Brian: "Which channel on our premier movie package do you watch the most?"
Me: "Uh, I suppose STARZ."
Brian: "What if I told you that I could get you STARZ for $12.99 per month?"
Me: "I'd say that was an unnecessary hypothetical situation that doesn't really solve my problem. I'd wonder why you didn't just come out and tell me that."
Me: "To be honest, Brian, this sounds like a shady deal. I won't have to smuggle anything inside myself for you, will I? Because I won't do that again."
Me: "It's YOUR illegal hypothetical situation, man."
Brian: "There's nothing illegal about it!"
Me: "Oh. Wellthen that's not a very exciting hypothetical situation. Plus, that doesn't solve really my problem of canceling the package. It gives me something, which is kind of the opposite of wanting nothing."
Brian: "Actually, we have a special price for STARZ for only $8 per month."
Me: "Wait a tic there, Brian. You just told me the price was $12.99 per month. Just what are you trying to pull here? Do you have a concussion? I'm starting to think you have a concussion."
Brian: "I do not have a concussion."
Me: "Are you sure? How many fingers am I holding up?"
Concussed Brian: "What? I don't know. I can't see you."
Me: "Just as I suspected. Vision impairment is a symptom of a concussion."
Concussed Brian: "What? That doesn?
Me: "You can't argue with science, Brian. Especially not in your condition."
Concussed Brian (silence)
Brian: "So can I sign you up for the STARZ $8 per month package?"
Me: "No, Brian. In fact, I'll save you time and say that I'm also not interested in the $7 Best Friends Discount package either."
Brian: "That's totally understandable. Is it because of the cost?"
Me: (pausing with the hope a gnome hits Brian on the head with a mallet): "Yes, Brian. It's because of the cost. And partly now because you're beginning to annoy me. I shouldn't have had to use this many words."
Brian: "I'm sorry to hear that. What about $7 for the CINAMAX package? You know, there are some great movies on there you don't want to lose."
Me: "For the love of God, cancel my movie package!"
Brian: "Have I told you about?
Me: "Cancel it!"
Me: "Cancel! Discontinue! Stop it! Cease!"
Brian: "Let's look at it another way."
[Audible sound of head banging table]
Brian: "Let me ask you something."
Me: "I really wish you wouldn't."
Brian: "What would be the best way to help you enjoy one of our premier movie packages for only $7 per month?"
Me: "Is this some kind of barter system? Could I get HBO in exchange for a rotisserie chicken and a back rub?"
Brian: "Don't be ridiculous."
Me: "You know, Brian, I'm starting to think it'd be easier to take the ring of power to Mordor than it is getting you to agree to drop this package."
Brian: "I believe you're making a Lord of the Rings reference. You know, that movie is on channel 361 right now. If you cancel your package subscription you won't be able to see it. I can give it - and thousands of other movies - to you for only $6 per month."
Me: "I hate you, Brian."
Brian: "I'm sorry to hear that, Mr. Walle. We just want to ensure you're enjoying the best movies we can provide at the best price."
Me: "Brian, this is getting a little pathetic. Let's just agree to both move on so you can salvage what's left of your dignity."
Brian: "But I need you!"
Me: "I know you do, Brian. I know. That's what makes this so hard. But it's just not the right time for us right now. Maybe sometime. And, hey, there's going to be other guys out there that will take you up on your offer once you've recovered from your concussion. But I'm afraid we've had our time together. Please don't make this more difficult than it already is."
Brian: "I can change. How about $5 per month for SHOWTIME?"
Me (sighing): "Oh Brian. Is there any way you can transfer me to a machine?"
Brian: "Why would you want a machine when you have a helpful person right here?"
About this time my wife walked in. If I thought trying to cancel a movie package was hard it was a nightmare explaining to her why I'm apparently breaking up with a guy because I no longer want to pay for his services.
Kelly Van De Walle is the senior creative writer for Briscoe14 Communications (www.briscoe14.com). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via blockbuster movie preview with robot ninjas. Don't call me, Brian. We're through.