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The Day The World Changed!

     There was a time – not too long ago – when you actually had to get up off your butt to change the TV channel. (Sounds unthinkable, but it’s true)

     When I was boy, we didn’t have a television remote control. We kids were the remote control. When my father became bored, dissatisfied, or just felt the itch (that many men do) to see what else was on, he would summon one of his progeny to stand up next to the TV and manually turn the dial.

     With a very Captain Kirk-like command on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise, he sat in his chair, pointed, and twirled his finger in a little circle… that meant… CHANGE THE CHANNEL. He’d wait, watch, and absorb what was on; then he’d roll his finger again… KEEP TURNING.

     A commercial break was like a red alert to man your post, but the duties didn’t stop there. Our father’s remote had volume control and antenna adjustment. (That was the worst) You could wrestle with those rabbit ears for an hour and never get a clear picture. It was quite a relief when the Captain was appeased, then dismissed you from duty.

     When I was seventeen, my world was turned upside down. I remember the day… I walked into the house to find a huge box in the hallway. In the family room… a brand new remote control… and a 26” TV. That was that. My blue-collar days were behind me. I had been granted an honorable discharge; no longer would I serve as the mindless dial turner for the Captain. In fact, when he was gone, I could be the captain. This was the beginning of a new era. Things were going to be different around here.

     Things did change and generally for the better, but the suffering continued. The Captain never let his second-in-command steer the ship. (I’d probably have a better chance of piloting the space shuttle.) At least I wasn’t his stooge; standing in front of the TV set awaiting his whim like an indentured servant.

     All was well in our lives, except during a code red. God forbid the “clicker” went missing. All activity would shut down. Everyone within shouting distance was drafted into the search party.  (You’d have thought we were looking for a gold bar.) It didn’t matter if the Captain was going to be watching the same station all night – which he always did on Thursday starting with The Cosby Show. He refused to watch TV without the clicker in his hand. ‘I can’t find it’ was not an acceptable answer. I was highly motivated because I knew, sooner or later, we would revert back to manual override. ME!

     Then there was the crisis of ’87. I was in control and my sister was challenging the sanity of bouncing around from channel to channel; she had the audacity to accuse me of doing it on purpose, just to annoy her. The argument escalated. In the heat of battle, the details of the less-than-civil contact are unclear, but suffice it to say, the clicker was knocked out of my hand and it went flying. Immediately, panic set in. We both looked on in horror as it hit the ground.

     It was my first look at the insides of a remote control. It’s a far more complex device than I thought. The first thing I thought was, Dad is going to be pissed. My sister nodded. The next thing I thought was, I wonder how much it costs to fix a remote control?

     Harnessing my inner Thomas Edison, I decided to try and repair it myself. I certainly couldn’t screw it up any worse. I put all the pieces back to where they looked like they belonged. I jammed the plastic covers together until it snapped back into place. Shockingly, it worked! Not well, but it worked. My sister and I decided to keep this incident between us.

     The Captain would inevitably asked, what is wrong with the clicker? But, we would have our story straight. “Yeah, I noticed it too, what’s wrong with it?” The clicker privilege was something neither of us wanted to lose.

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Reader Comments (1)

Wow! I think you and I had the same dad! I remember one day the twirly clicking knob on the tv broke. So dad, being the "do it yourselfer" her was got a pair of pliers and that was the new knob. And the pliers had a certain spot to be in when not in use! They had to be stored on top of the tv set and never, ever moved or messed with. Then we graduated to a nicer tv with a remote control and I thought dad was going to lose his mind. We were not to touch the remote control ever! And when it got lost, even though one of us kids probably lost it we just told him it was his fault. Didn't matter, we as kids were always drafted into the "clicker search party". And the rabbit ear thing went on for years after that until dad decided to go mainstream and get cable.

I miss those days........ But not the technology! ;)

July 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCreative Writing

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