His knock was loud and unexpected, like a stray firecracker on July 5th. I spilled my coffee on my shirt in my clumsy attempt to get to the door. There he stood, toolbox in hand. I was glad he was here, but he was early.
“My name is Omar, and I am here to install your DirectTV,” he said mechanically, like he’d probably said 5000 times before. And then: “Did you know you have coffee on your shirt?”
This was actually the third technician that DirectTV had sent in two weeks, so I wasn’t in the mood to have my hygiene habits critiqued.
“You know you are the third tech, right?” I tried not to growl.
“No, worries, ma’am, we will get everything fixed good today.”
I was hoping his tech skills were better than his grammar (and my hygiene).
After three hours (I know, right? THREE HOURS???? How hard can it be?), he was finally finished.
“I guess you probably have another call after this?” I asked unenthusiastically, trying to make pleasant conversation as he gathered up his random greasy tools that were spread all over my living room floor and had also migrated to the kitchen island.
“Yes, two more calls. But yours was pretty easy. One time I had to install 29 TVs at one house.”
I thought I heard him wrong. Surely he must have said, “Five,” and I just couldn’t understand his accent.
“Twenty-nine.” Silence. And then, as if for explanation: “It was a big house.”
“Did 29 people live there?”
“No. Just two.”
My mind of course raced to my own house: where would we put 29 TVs even if we wanted them? Let’s see: living room, dining room, kitchen, three bedrooms, both bathrooms, study, laundry room, garage, basement, storage room… that only got me to 13. Not even half way there. We would have to double up in every room.
“They never talked to each other,” Omar continued, like he knew the couple intimately, which he probably did if his track record of three hours per TV applied there: 3 x 29 = a month of living at their house installing TVs. I wonder if they tipped him. Or if they offered to let him stay in the guest room(s) overnight so he could get right back to work the next day(s).
“I would never have 29 TVs,” I said haughtily. “Who needs more than 28?”
Omar nodded solemnly, not getting my joke. I reminded myself to try the same joke on The Husband later to see if it was a language barrier issue or if it just wasn’t that funny.
Tall and I had a long discussion about it later. “Twenty-nine TVs…” he said longingly, as if he were saying, “Unlimited free Legos…”
“Where would you put them, Tall?” I demanded.
“I would put nine clumped together on that wall,” he pointed to the largest wall in our living room. “Then it would be exactly like the TV store, or Target.”
This conversation was making me feel more and more judgmental. “Let’s go to the library, Tall. Get your shoes on.”
He clutched at the remote, like a drowning man clutches to a life preserver. “No. You can’t make me. At least let me record Phineas and Ferb.” He clicked at the keys and the screen went black with an eerie message from the Universe: No Signal.
Looks like Omar would be returning once more. I made a mental note to wear a clean shirt.