Saturday, May 14, 2011

Terrible T.V. Traumas and Torments

Dear George,

Cable TV these days is astonishing. We must have 500 channels available, all in High Definition; hundreds more movies and shows available on demand or by pay per view; a DVR to record anything we might have missed; etc. We could watch 24 hours a day and still cover less than one percent of it all. The only hitch is that our local cable company has made so many recent technological advances that the system keeps going haywire. Aside from our “on demand” movies being inaccessible or freezing up in the middle, we’ve had to have the cable company replace three cable boxes in the last six weeks.

The most recent breakdown occurred with our old Toshiba set which we’d moved down to the living room when we got a new TV for our upstairs den. It just quit working one day. The cable box seemed to have gone out, and we couldn’t even get the TV set to turn on. We waited five days for the cable guy to come. He said the cable box was shot, and the TV seemed dead as well. He replaced the cable box. Then he fiddled with the TV set, pushing the Power button and bending the prongs on the cord and replugging it into the wall outlet. Nothing. He said the TV set was done for and not worth repairing. I asked if the failure of the cable box and the death of the TV set were connected to one another, and he said that probably a power surge had ruined them both. He did say they were having a great sale at Wal-mart where they were disposing of some of last season’s models for a hundred dollars. That cheered me up a little bit.

I told Katja when she came home, and she was unruffled. She said we’d just get a new TV. I told her about the hundred dollar sets at Walmart, but she said flat out that she doesn’t patronize Walmart. The following Sunday I looked through the newspaper ads and found that H.H. Gregg was having a sale. A 32” TV was on sale at H.H. for $279. I showed it to Katja, but she was only mildly interested. “How much do you think we should pay for a new TV?” I asked. “No more than $700,” she said. I was aghast. I tried to explain that we rarely watch the downstairs TV and we don’t need a super-deluxe model. Then I suggested that we go together that very afternoon and get a TV on sale at H.H. Greg. Katja said she’d rather go by herself. I asked why. She said the two of us have too much difficulty shopping together. I couldn’t imagine what she was talking about, but I didn’t push it. I did ask if she would agree to buy a 32” TV for $400 or less. She was sure she could.

I went out to the forest with the sheepdogs, and Katja went shopping. She got home in late afternoon and asked me to help her bring the groceries in. No TV in the Honda’s back seat. I didn’t bring it up. At 10 p.m. I finally asked if she’d had a chance to look at TVs. Yes, she said; she’d gone to four stores and wound up buying a TV at H.H. Gregg. It was going to be delivered on Tuesday. I didn’t ask how much it cost. I was pretty sure it would be under $400.

The delivery people called at 8 a.m. to say they would be arriving between 1:00 and 4. At noon they called to say they’d arrive around 1 p.m. Even though Katja had told me that they would install the new TV, I decided to make a diagram of all the cords and connectors in case I had to do anything myself. First I checked the wall outlet that the cable guy checked, bending the prongs one more time and reinserting the power cord. He was right – no power, nothing at all. Then I went to the back of the machine and drew a map of the six or seven cords which connected to the VCR, the cable hookup, the TV, the wall, etc. The last cord ran back to an electrical outlet in the floor, and I noticed that it was partially pulled out. “Oh oh,” I thought to myself. I plugged the cord in and pressed the power button on the remote. Voila, Channel 5 popped onto the screen. I’d inadvertently solved our problem. Our old Toshiba TV was working perfectly.

My heart nearly stopped at that point. I called Katja at her office. I could not believe that I hadn’t checked more carefully to see if the TV was plugged in. Even worse, I couldn’t believe that the cable guy didn’t check it correctly. He’d tried the VCR plug instead. I told Katja what had happened. I said that I’d like to refuse delivery of the new TV. “Oh no,” she said, “we’ve already paid $69.95 for delivery charges.” I reiterated that the old TV was working just fine and we no longer needed a new TV. Katja said to not worry about it; we’d just get rid of the old TV. We talked for a moment about putting it in our spare bedroom, but there’s no cable hookup there. Then I thought about selling it. Katja said we should just ask the delivery people to take it away.

Later on I talked to one of my friends at the office. I explained the details of our mixup, and she asked (incredulously) what sort of marital arrangement we have. Namely, when Katja and I disagree about something, do I just give in with no further discussion? I thought about it, then told her that our household is sort of like Libya before the recent uprisings. Katja is like Muammar Qaddafi, and I’m like the ordinary people. Muammar makes the decisions, and the people carry them out. My friend just said, “I’m sure you’ll enjoy the new TV.”

The delivery guys came. I showed them the old TV and told them, unlike most TVs they probably take away, this one worked perfectly. I added that my wife and I had simply decided to get a more state of the art machine. Apparently sensing my anguish, the delivery guy said we would be very happy with our new TV. It had a 42” screen, about a quarter larger than I’d anticipated, and it was the top of the line model. The deliverers were quite efficient and had it all hooked up in minutes. The picture was a lot better than the Toshiba. Tomorrow I plan to watch the Miami Heat play the Chicago Bulls. If the Bulls win, I’ll probably start feeling better about our purchase.



G-Mail Comments

-Vicki L. (5-17): David Oh David.... You left out the most important part of the story ... i.e., how much did the new

TV cost? Sis

-David L to Vicki: Hi Vicki, Part of the story is that I never asked. I like to believe that Katja honored my wish to keep the price under $400. Given that, I conclude that she got a really fancy TV for some great bargain price. What a shopper. Dave

-JML (5-16): that tv blog was a good one. how frustrating… J

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