Three days turned into a week; work and holidays kept me from getting in touch sooner, but I figured that was even more time for them to get their act together and fix the problem. I contacted AT&T again and got "sm040q(SANTHOSH)" this time. Same spiel: it was a serious issue, so sorry to hear about it, escalate it to my supervisor, it's regrettable that this ticket has been open forever, blah blah blah. At no point could anyone tell me what was actually being done or when this might be resolved.
Well, now there's snow on the ground, and what started out as an end of summer dig will now involve frozen tundra. I wish I had a happy ending for you, dear readers, but this is where it stands. It's been almost six months and AT&T — despite otherwise slick service that allows you to watch recorded TV from any DVR in your house — can't seem to manage the seemingly simpler task of getting a cable off my fence and into the ground where it belongs, despite a near half dozen calls on a single, solitary issue. If this saga ever comes to an end, I'll be happy to update the story, but in the meantime, keep this in mind if you're considering service from them.