Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wednesday's Words for July 30, 2014

It’s been a different kind of week here in the Ashbury household.

Something happened last Sunday that hasn’t actually happened to us in a very long time.

 Our television went on the fritz.

Televisions used to be considered appliances, did you know that? I can recall the black and white one we had when I was a kid. Um, for you younger folks, black and white refers to the colors of the pictures the television produced, not the colors of the set itself. One day—and seriously, only ever one day that I recall—ours didn’t work, and my mom had to call the T.V. repair man.

Yes, just like you might today call a washing machine repair person, or a refrigerator repair person, you used to be able to call the television repair person.

It was quite the occasion, in my mind at least. I was just a kid but he let me watch him as he worked. He unscrewed the back panel of the television (they really were bulky pieces of furniture in those days). The inside of the beast was filled with one big picture tube, and several little tubes, elongated glass things with rounded tops and prongs on the other end. Thinking back, I guess you could liken them to fuses, because when they “blew” they’d have a black area on them, a sign of burn out.

Of course, it didn’t take the repair man long to find the tube that had blown. Fixing it was a simple matter of exchanging the burned out tube for a new one and then, like magic, the television worked again.

Well, in 2014 it’s not a television repairperson that gets called—it’s a television technician. You may recall that my beloved bought this monster set three years ago, the result of a bargain hunting adventure with our daughter that still gets recounted at family gatherings. Fortunately, at the time of purchase, he also bought the four year extended warranty.

Here I will digress for a moment and tell you, flat out, in as stern a voice as I can muster, when you buy anything electronic in nature, get the extended warranty if one is available. We have done that as a regular practice for years, and several times, collected on it. We have used, for periods of two to three years, and then received full refunds for a digital camera, a GPS unit, and an expensive one-cup coffee maker.

Not to mention that there will be no charge for the “adjustment” to our 54 inch brand name television. And no, I don’t feel guilty for any of that. Manufacturers don’t want their products to last forever. If they did, their sales would stagnate. Much better for them to plan, for example, that they can sell that expensive one-cup coffeemaker to you every three to five years or so, than to make it so good it will last ten to fifteen years.

My mother’s large freezer lasted twenty-seven years, I don’t recall she ever got a new fridge, and I just inherited her wooden ironing board that I used to iron clothes on as a teen.

Now, back to our broken-down television. I called the 1-800 number on the warranty brochure last Sunday—that is good innovation, call centers that operate 24/7—and after I recited all the warranty information, the young person on the other end of the call expressed appropriate sympathy that our television was “down”.

He promised to send a tech right out to us, and scheduled the service call—for this coming Friday.

My beloved gasped when I told him how long we would be without his TV, and looked for one moment as if his world was about to end. I even knew what question was coming next: “But what if I had planned to watch something good this week?”

Really? During summer re-run season when he only puts on the news, and even that only once or twice a week? Or catches the occasional episode of that one new series he’s watching on our cable provider’s “watch on demand” service?

Still, I didn’t want to seem unsympathetic to his concerns, so I gently stroked his cheek and said, “Then you can just plan to watch it on your computer, dear.”

This is the reason it’s been a different kind of week in the Ashbury household. Yes, every spare moment after dinner he’s been right here, in my office, just two feet away from me, doing just that.

Thank goodness for headphones.


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