My cable guy was a month late.
No, not to install my cable. He arrived safely within the two-hour window of 5 – 7 p.m., which I had scheduled three weeks ago.
My cable guy, Carter, was born a month late, 24 years ago.
I found this out about 20-25 minutes into his install of my cable, internet and a phone service I won’t pay for (“Do you know how many times I hear that a day?”).
But it could have been worse.
Though he was a month late, there was the possibility he and his mother wouldn’t have been resuscitated after being dead for 30 minutes during the delivery, a tale Carter told as he measured the signal levels coming from the wiring in my living room walls.
There was also the chance his mother wouldn’t have survived a tornado, a car wreck or ovarian cancer.
There was even the chance that Carter wouldn’t have made it through having leukemia for a year and a half when he was 17. Then there was the possibility that his lymphoma wouldn’t haven been discovered while it was in early stage 1.
What if after graduating from Richland High School, Carter hadn’t tore his labrum and rotator cuff during his sophomore year as a pitcher at the University of Texas.
“I’ve had 7 surgeries because of it,” Carter said. ” (Had) complications on the first two. Second one didn’t heal correctly, third one, another complication. I built up an infection. Then the last two, they did them separately so that way they could heal up right.”
What if he hadn’t lost his scholarship, leading him to drop out, derailing his path to earning a degree in chemistry?
But what do you do when the school you’ve loved your entire life since growing up in Nocona (a town of 3,000 in North Texas known for making cowboy boots and the Longhorn belt buckle Carter wore) more or less acts like you didn’t exist?
“It sucks because UT took everything away from me,” Carter claimed. “You can Google me. You can do everything and you will never find anything about me. They took my scholarship away from me. I was supposed to be the next big thing for the University of Texas. They took my scholarship away from me. They stained my name, my high school career.”
A Google search brought up only a bare-bones profile on maxpreps.com.
Even with that sentiment, his Longhorn love is unshaken.
“I’m still a UT fan, though,” Carter admits. “I’ve been a fan since I was a kid. Even though they screwed me over, I love the school itself. I just hate specific people and I’m not going to let the people I hate ruin my love for that school.”
The answer came in the form of working as a manager of a window cleaning company, a business whose survival eventually seemed in jeopardy, leading a superior to suggest that Carter should probably explore other options.
“When your father tells you to quit, you quit,” Carter says.
So he quit.
The company survived.
He’s been working for my cable provider for 10 months now and he’s better for it. He says he’s making more money than he was as at the window cleaning company and, he gets to meet interesting people every day, however briefly
It’s a feeling I can relate to from my experience in journalism and my summer as a Pizza Hut delivery boy.
I’m far from the most interesting person Carter has encountered in cable days. Especially when he’s done the install of Dirk Nowitzki’s “castle” and the home of former Texas Ranger infielder Michael Young.
We both bonded over the thrill of the Rangers striking out Alex Rodriguez to beat the New York Yankees an advance to the franchise’s first World Series.
“As soon as I realized he was coming up to the plate, I knew we were going to the World Series,” Carter said.
We also compared our high school experiences and our successes and failures taking the ACT. Since I moved to Arkansas in 2000, Carter gave me a brief glimpse at the high school experience I could have had in Texas.
“Have you heard of the new STAR test?”
“It’s the test we have to take in order to graduate. I got a perfect score on math, science, English and history. All four subject I got a perfect score. I didn’t miss a single question,” Carter claimed. “That’s how easy it was. I was, like I said, an athlete. … I applied myself.”
Years later, both of us are probably not in the place we expected to be when we began college.
And going off of our 90 minutes of interaction on the evening of March 28, that’s OK.