Cutting the cord – More than a New Year’s resolution

SACO – I might be a little late to the party, but for the past year or so, I’ve been wondering why we still had two nondescript black boxes in our house connecting the televisions to the somewhat-dated world of cable television.

Each time I visited one of my children, I noticed they embraced a far more disconnected existence. They long ago abandoned the idea of having a conventional telephone in their home and seemed to consider their cell phone as another appendage. It might not be physically connected to the rest of their body, but it was always within spitting distance.

When they moved into their new homes or apartments they understood that they needed to contact Central Maine Power, forward their mail, and a number of other mundane tasks related to changing addresses. The one thought that never seemed to cross their minds was to contact the cable company and arrange for television service.

They were the generation that came of age with Netflix, Hulu, Chromcast, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Prime, YouTube, and many other streaming services. For them, TV and the internet were essentially the same thing.

I was from the generation that remembered fighting with your siblings about what show we were going to watch on the one TV in the house. I remember it vividly, it was the boxy black and white television where you changed the channels without a remote, just two dial knobs.

About a month ago, I decided it was time for us to follow suit. I did a bit of research and tried to determine which streaming service would work best for us. We have three televisions in the house and I’ve noticed that during the last year or so, my wife and I spend some time watching a movie or what I would describe as a TV series on our iPads. I figured we were already most of the way there.

During the holidays, I bought a new Apple TV 4K for the living room and two Roku streaming players. I fiddled a bit with the wiring for the devices and signed up for a trial run with Direct TV NOW. Within a few hours, I was ready. We still had the cable boxes, but I could test the new system.

Thrill of thrills, it worked! And better yet, It was fairly easy to use. For whatever reason, maybe it was the belief that it couldn’t be this simple, but we decided not to return the boxes and cancel our cable subscription until December 31.

When I went to the local office in Saco, it instantly became clear that I wasn’t the only 50-something who decided to call it quits. There were about 10 people in line in front of me and being the somewhat nosey neighbor, I listened as they described their particular reasons for returning their equipment and canceling the cable service.

“I just don’t watch that many channels,” said the tall man wearing a Patriots hat.

“We are not here that often and it’s too expensive,” said a couple with tans that led me to believe they would soon be heading somewhere warm.

It took me the better part of an hour to reach the counter and by that time, my explanation was short and sweet.

“I’d like to cancel my cable and telephone service,” I said, hoping the man behind the desk would simply log into the system and make the necessary adjustments. I gave him all the equipment that I had been “renting” for who knows how long.

“I just want to keep our internet service,” I said and pushed the equipment across the desk as if I were decidedly moving all my chips to the center of the table in a hi-stakes game.

“OK,” was all he said and within a minute he printed a receipt for me to sign and explained that my monthly bill would now be about half of what it was before.

It’s only been a few days, but so far, it’s all still working and I’m wondering what we might upgrade next …

See you on the roads and stay tuned – as always, if I think it’s interesting, I’ll write about it.

Thanks again for reading my stories and as always, you may purchase my novel, Homecoming: A Soldier’s Story of Loyalty, Courage, and Redemption at your local, independent bookstore or online:, or

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David Arenstam

About David Arenstam

Originally from away, but here to stay - Maine is my home and I love writing stories about the people and places from my end of the state. I am a teacher and writer and my first novel, "Homecoming: A Soldier's Story of Loyalty, Courage, and Redemption" is available now at