My Remote

1287729525-800px“Where’s the remote?”

In our household, it is a question that ranks right up there with, “Have you seen my car keys?”

In this case, I knew the answer.  “It is under a magazine on the end table.” 

“No,” she said, “that’s not the one I’m looking for.”

“Which one are you looking for?”

“The long skinny black one with the blue numbers.”

“Look under the couch, the cat was batting something around down there.”

“No, those are your car keys.”

That saved me a question.  “Try the junk drawer,” I told her.

The junk drawer is a place where everything in our house winds up sooner or later.  It is where we hide the things most vital to our existence among the things that are utterly meaningless.

“It’s not there. It’s not anywhere.”

“Sorry to hear that,” I said, hoping my condolences would draw the conversation to a hasty conclusion. 

No such luck.

“Find it for me,” she said.

“Why me?”

“Because you are the electronic thingy guy.”

That explained a lot. “So what are you trying to do?”

“I want to watch a DVD.”

“Oh, for that you’ll need a remote.”

So I trudged downstairs to the basement storage room. It is where I keep a large cardboard box filled to the brim with remotes.  I am fairly certain there is a long skinny black remote with blue numbers in the box.  There has to be.  

I am also sure that it doesn’t operate the DVD.  Still, if I bring it back upstairs, I might convince her that the DVD player is dead and that we need a new one.  That way I will know where the DVD remote is at least for a couple of weeks.

So I began sorting through remotes. 

The box holds at least one remote for every TV we ever owned.  It contained multiple remotes for every cable and satellite service we ever subscribed to.  It has remotes for every brand of VCR, DVD and DVR’s we ever purchased and remotes for fireplaces in homes we no longer live in.  It even holds such exotic fare as remotes for radios, ceiling fans and remote control toys.

It is all in the box.

So here is an interesting question.  Why does every electronics manufacture seems to believe that we want a new, unique and utterly baffling remote control for everything we buy? 

Here is a better question.  Why do electronic device manufactures believe that having a big cardboard box filled with remotes – is a convenience?

It is a heck of a lot easier to get up, walk across the room and push a button than it is to spend a day searching for a remote, only to find that the cat has batted it under the couch (along with your car keys).

But the best question of all is: why aren’t the conveniences of modern life…  convenient?

In that sense, remotes are like keys and passwords. One is great, five is an inconvenience but fifty will lock you out of modern civilization.

I finally found a suitable long skinny black remote with blue numbers and returned upstairs to find my wife settled comfortably on the couch watching her DVD.

“Oh, you found the remote,” I said.

“Naw,” she said, “your grand-daughter, Mattie, told me how to use the Smart Remote App on my phone. Now my phone controls everything.”

“Really?”

“As the electronic thingy guy, I thought you would know all about that.”

Author: Almost Iowa

www.almostiowa.com

45 thoughts on “My Remote”

  1. Smart remote app huh? We could use that. But recently we had new direct tv boxes installed and the “guy” said we should keep our old remotes that we understand and he’d even give us more to go with the new boxes. Now hubby and I each have one beside us while watching our recorded (DVR’d) shows. Life is too short to watch all those commercials. Gets funny when we are competing against each other to fast forward, change channel, or pause. Technology gives me “pause.”

  2. Honestly, I didn’t think I had anything to add here. I’m still not sure I do. I’m so far removed from the world you’re writing about that even bemused speculation is beyond me. The great revelation I had tonight is: I don’t care. I certainly don’t begrudge anyone their iGadgets and apps and all those remote-demanding thingies, but I don’t feel the lack. I’m a marketer’s nightmare.

    I do have a programmable coffee pot, but I never program it. I have a grandmother clock, and I raise the weights once a week. I have a stove, a refrigerator with icemaker, a dishwasher, an AM-FM radio, a computer, and a flip phone. And I function, more or less.

    I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I feel some sort of analogy exists between your box of remotes and a dear friend who’s forever looking for something in her “papers.” I have no idea how she generates so much paper, but she spends inordinate amounts of time sorting, filing, searching, re-sorting. I ask her, “Why don’t you just get rid of those tax returns from 1972?” That’s a good idea, she says. But I’m not sure she has.

    Maybe it’s age. Personally, I wouldn’t mind going gently into that good night — or, at least, lightly. If I keep refusing and keep disbursing, I’ll be like the Cheshire Cat. By the time it’s time, there won’t be anything left but the grin, hanging in the air.

    1. Technology (and most other things as well) follow a predictable arc that begins in the utilitarian and ends in the frivolous – it is why the Cheshire Cat smiles as he fades away.

  3. Always ask a kid a techie question! There are 4 TV thingy remotes in our house, and I only know how to work 2 of them. No sweat, I have a built-in techie guy who knows all about the other 2… At one time in my life I couldn’t work the VCR and was about to throw it in the trash! The techie guy came to the rescue! Have a wonder-filled weekend! 💛 Elizabeth

    1. When you think about it, kids spend most of their years learning things that are utterly new to them. It is why their minds are so quick and malleable. It is only when we age and realize that most of the new ideas that we so enthusiastically embraced as young people were really stupid… that we become more conservative and skeptical.

  4. I usually have that problem with the remotes for my audio equipment, but I’m past having a box or drawer for them and I don’t have a mobile phone so no smart apps (are there such things as idiot apps? I suppose there must be…). But thankfully there are actual contol buttons on the machines. So far…

    1. It is cheaper to build a remote control interface than it is to design, test and connect buttons, toggles and dials for an analog interface, so expect to see more of it.

  5. Wow. I hope there is truth to the app thingy, that could be revolutionary. My kids used to play a game I called, “Hide the remote and watch dads head explode.” Fun game.

  6. The “conveniences” of our new technology will be the death of me yet! We not only have a box full of remotes, we have a drawer full of electronic cords, and we don’t know what devise a single one of them are supposed to connect to. Which means we are too scared to throw any of them out, just in case they are important… I honestly think I was born fifty years too late.

  7. When our oldest daughter was around 2, she hid the “mote troll” for about 6 months. But we only had 2 1/2 channels back then…….I don’t like so many remotes and I also hate having a clock on every electronic.

  8. “Where we hide the things most vital to our existence among the things that are utterly meaningless.” Easily the most eloquent description of a junk drawer I’ve ever come across.

  9. Two things the world really needs: 1) A universal remote to control everything and 2) A universal password to gain access everywhere. If only . . .

  10. No box, no junk drawer for the bippers (we don’t call them remotes). They are all still in the same little stand near the chair near the TV/DVD/VCR – All of them, including the ones that don’t work or won’t control anything we still own.

    I like my cable company, we rent the remote ‘cuz it’s cheaper than buying because they break too often. To get a new one, you have to take them the old one. When you give them the old one, they toss it in the trash. They don’t ask what’s wrong. In the trash, here’s a new one buh-bye

  11. You wanna talk remotes. OK, let’s talk remotes. Why does the man of the house always have to control the remote? Well, in this house that’s how it works. The constant switching of channels drives me nuts. The volume thing is another issue: I am deaf in one ear, he is not. Every TV should come with two remotes. No, we do not have smart phones. Or a box brimming with remotes stashed in the basement.

    If only life would be as minimally daunting as lost and shared remotes. There, I’ve just put the whole issue in perspective for myself. Until the next time I want the remote.

  12. Ah … that impossible moment when the kids help us instead of us helping them. I’m told it’s a slippery slope from here on out, probably one that ends with.a box full of remotes in the living room.

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