Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Cabled In

A utility should be like a baseball umpire.  You don't notice it, unless it's bad.

Except for the price, my electric company, gas company, water company, and phone company are trouble free.

I'm not a fan of my cell phone company.  It's way too expensive, and a trip to the store is a nightmare.  They constantly try to sell me things I don't need and don't want.  I'd switch, but friends say they're all the same.

That brings us to cable.  Yes, it's expensive.  I could do without a lot of the TV channels.  The internet component is fast, albeit pricey.  It rarely goes out.

One of my cable boxes died late Friday night, just before work.  I gave it another look Saturday morning.  Unplugged.  Rebooted.  Connections checked.

I called customer service.  Luckily, I got someone in the USA who speaks the same language.  She put me through the same paces.  Still nothing.

My customer service rep, sitting in an office in York, PA suggested a service call, saying cable boxes rarely go bad.  I declined.  The cable box was running hot.  My wiring was new, and it was a relatively recent installation.  I had a strong feeling the box was the culprit.

From there, it was a trip to the Mall at Steamtown.  The cable company has an office there, but only for the next month.  Like most businesses, it's abandoning the mall.  The new location. I'm told, is somewhere near Target in Dickson City.

I breezed in to the mall parking deck around 10:15.  There was no problem finding a space.  It's one of the advantages of a 75 per cent empty mall.

Three people were on duty at the cable office.  The wait in line was short.  I dropped off the old box, got a new one, and headed home to hook it up.

It's easy.  connect the cables and power cord.  Power it up.  You can activate over the phone or on line.  I went on line.  No human contact.  The box came to life and I'm back in business.


As for the Mall at Steamtown, it just makes me sad.  I remember the days when it was packed. Businesses wanted in, even if it meant high rents and long leases.  It was THE place to be.

That didn't last long.  America's love affair with malls is over.  Most cities have one good one.  Only one.  No room for another.  Outdoor "lifestyle" centers are the new hot thing.

The Mall at Steamtown is due to be auctioned off in less than week.  Opening bid is $ 700,000.  Department store owner Al Boscov says his company will place a bid, and he hopes to see it return to the old days.  Many feel that's a waste of time.  See paragraph above.

There are ideas to transform the mall into something different.  Right now, it's just ideas.  There is no money behind them.  A lot of what I read is unrealistic and overly expensive.  Talk is cheap.  Fixing a mall isn't.

It's clear things cannot continue as they are.  The mall is empty.  The parking decks need work.  I saw some leaky pipes down there Saturday morning.  I don't know if Boscov can pull a rabbit out of his hat and turn back the clock to 1993.  The Chamber of Commerce thinks retail here is dead.

Apartments, government offices, professional offices?  I just don't know.

At this point, no one does.  At least, with my new cable box, I can watch it unfold on TV.