Satellite sky

Why, why, why, I say Why, Mama, Why?
Why can’t I sleep in peace tonight
underneath the satellite sky?

(from “Satellite Sky,” by Mark Heard, with my apologies for using his poetic imagery for such a prosaic purpose)

Some years back, when I was renting a home here in Shelbyville, I decided to replace my cable TV with Dish Network. I ordered a dish online, and it arrived, and I was so excited. But then, when the installer came, it turned out I didn’t have good line of sight. The only way I could have gotten a signal was to have mounted the dish on a post out next to the sidewalk. Plus, by that time, the owners of the house had given me the heads up that they would soon be fixing it up and moving into it themselves.

I now live in an old apartment complex — one of the oldest in Shelbyville, in fact. About a year ago, I looked into getting DirecTV at the apartment — after all, two other apartments in the complex had it. (Today, three other apartments have it.) This time, instead of shopping around for a discount retail deal, I went directly through DirecTV. The installer (who was a contractor, of course, not a DirecTV employee) called me the night before the installation appointment. He hemmed and hawed and talked about how it was usually difficult to put dishes at apartments. I told him there were two dishes already here. He then speculated that they were probably installed without being grounded correctly. My appointment was for the following afternoon, but the reluctant installer said he would swing by the next morning (while I was safely trapped at the office) and look over the situation, then call me at work and tell me whether an installation was even possible. To this day, I have no idea whether he actually stopped by the apartment or not. He called me the next morning, claimed to have seen the apartment first-hand, and told me there was no safe way to install a satellite dish because it could not be grounded. It was clear he really wasn’t interested in working that afternoon.

I later discovered that the two existing satellite dishes at the apartments (now, there are three of them) are grounded at a telephone junction box around on the side of the building.

I tried complaining to DirecTV about the reluctant, resentful installer, but they really didn’t seem interested in second-guessing him. All they did was confirm that dishes need to be grounded, which I was already willing to accept.

I would still like to get satellite TV; I could get the channels most important to me for less than I am paying now for cable. I only have one TV set, so the multiple-receiver issue is no hindrance to me at all. But after being burned twice, I want to get confirmation from an installer before I place my order. A few weeks ago, I saw a Dish Network van parked in front of a furniture store near the newspaper. I swung around the block and decided I would try to corral the installer. But he got in the van and pulled away before I could get to him.

BellSouth, my telephone company, now lets you bundle DirecTV with your telephone service, at an even greater savings. But I really don’t want to go that route until I can get someone to tell me for certain that I can get a dish installed.