The other day my neighbor asked me over to see if I couldn't help fix her tv. I couldn't. After trying the various remotes she has to operate it, as far as I could make out, the problem was with the little high-tech receiver box that's supposed to pick up the wireless signal. I know this because of the number of lights that came on the box and the fact the tv screen reported "no signal."
Since I was quickly out of my depth, we had to call the cable company on my neighbor's cell phone. We couldn't use the land line because of some unrelated malfunction. Once we called, the computer voice verified we were calling from a cell phone and asked what the billing number was.
She would patiently say (this is not the real number, I forget the real number) "555-121-2299." The computer would repeat back, "999-121-2255" and she'd say, "No! No!" and the computer would say "0-0" and she'd start again, this time keying in the numbers, but if she fat-fingered the wrong one on her little cell phone pad, she couldn't undo it and just had to start over. Finally we got through only to learn the service office was closed on Sunday, thank you very much, and could we call back Monday. This, in case I haven't mentioned, is the second or third defective cable box she's gotten.
This is where the old fogey in me rears its ugly head. I swear I'm not making this up or imagining it; there used to be a time you turned on the tv and watched it, and that was all there was to it. You didn't use a remote because there was a knob, right on the tv that you pulled out and the tv came on, and that same knob would also control the volume, and there was another knob to change channels. There were only four channels, counting public broadcasting, but they came in relatively dependably, and if there were ever a problem, it could generally be solved with a good solid whack to the side of the set.
The shows were black and white, but once in a while, the title sequence would proudly say "In COLOR" in various shades of gray, and you had the pleasure of knowing that while you were seeing it in black and white, somewhere it was being broadcast in color. The cameras for doing this, I believe, actually had three separate lenses.
As for phones, they were made of a plastic so unbreakable you could crack walnuts with it and still carry on a conversation. The dials were actual dials where you inserted your finger into a little hole so you knew damn well which number you'd chosen and weren't inadvertently dialing 5 instead of six or even 5,6,3 all at the same time. Washers, dryers, and refrigerators, as far as I could make out, were immortal.
Some friends of ours shelled out big bucks for a fancy-shmancy dishwasher and within months the inside was all corroded and looked like one of those cautionary science fiction movies where the doctor discovers the elixir of immortality but then starts decomposing. My wife and I bought a top-of-the-line refrigerator, and in a week the plastic supports that held up the crisper drawer had broken. They're still broken because the manufacturer doesn't make replacements. Our former refrigerator, which I believe was made out of salvage parts from World War II tanks, is still functioning perfectly well in the basement.
I'll get off my old fogey soapbox now. (You can count on and old fogey to use a word like soapbox.) And rejoin the modern world.
Besides, it's time to feed the chickens.
(Originally posted 2012)