Once upon a time, I used to get the biggest kick out of watching my mother try to operate anything more complicated than a can opener. When I was 12-years-old we bought our first VCR, a rudimentary model with a corded remote no bigger than my palm and buttons so clearly labeled that anyone with thumbs could operate them.
Anyone, that is, except my mother.
Unfortunately, the geniuses that designed the thing put the power button below the TV/Video button and if one made the mistake of turning these two things on from the top down rather than the bottom up, it would take all day to get them in sync. I literally laughed so hard I cried watching her rage against the machine that held The Thornbirds hostage.
I’m no longer laughing.
While I used to be able to hook up an electronic device inside of five minutes without looking at an instruction book, today I can barely retrieve my voice mail messages without hurting myself. I can’t help wondering: When did I turn into my mother?
The other night I turned on my television and was asked if I wanted to update my software or see an input list. Uh-huh…see, what I wanted was to watch a movie, not have a conversation with the TV set! I dealt with those issues and then went half crazy trying to get the movie started. Apparently my Blu-Ray player is the same brand as my ancient DVD/VCR combo and my remote control activates both. One wrong move sends the whole thing into chaos that requires three people, two calls to tech support and a battery change to straighten out.
As if that wasn’t enough, smack in the middle of the Beatles 50th Anniversary special in February, a portion of my cable system went out. I called my provider screaming about the musical legacy of Paul and Ringo while she resent signals from Asia in an effort to fix my problem. When nothing worked she suggested I watch the show on one of my HD channels and proceeded to give me a sequence of digits longer than my social security number. Since when do I have HDTV?
I have three remotes within arm’s reach that have 105 buttons between them and I can perform only five functions on them. Three claim to be “menu” buttons however, that operation is never available when I need it. There is an energy saving button that hasn’t spared me an ounce of sanity and four brightly colored buttons complete with an assortment of un-raised dots that strike me as a sick Helen Keller joke. I don’t dare dust them because the last time I did, the government shut down, the President ended the Space Shuttle program and my son missed a critical episode of Doctor Who.
Coincidence? Maybe, but I’m not taking any chances. I suspect that somewhere in the Great Beyond my mother has been put in charge of the Karma button, has mastered it and is getting me back for every time I laughed at her, one piece of equipment at a time.