Hay’s Daze: When control is remote

  • May. 20, 2017 12:30 a.m.

I counted them. We have five (count ‘em five) remote controls. For the TV. Just for the TV. The one TV. I ask you: In what kind of world does a person have five remote controls for one television? Answer: Apparently, this one.

OK to be perfectly honest by way of clarification, I’m beginning to suspect at least one and possibly two of the remote controls don’t really do much of anything, television-wise. The other day for example, I waived and pointed and clicked all five remotes all over the place and I changed batteries in each of them several times and while I still don’t know what each one actually did I’m pretty sure I shut the neighbor’s microwave off and started my electric lawn mower out in the shed. The TV however, remained completely off.

All I wanted to do was watch a little hockey. Or an episode of World’s Greatest Canadian Chopped Chef Baking Challenge Cook-Off. Or binge a bit (three episodes) on one of those foreign detective series with subtitles on Netflix. So as usual I picked up the most likely remote from the remote pile (the long skinny one) and pressed “TV.” When nothing happened I pressed the other “On” button for the cable box thingy. A lot of nothing still happened.

So, as usual, I picked up the second most likely remote (the short one with red buttons) and pressed several “On” buttons, including one called “Source.” This time the TV miraculously came to life, which temporarily caused my heart to flutter slightly with joy until a box came on the screen brightly displaying: “no signal.” I have seen this before. Many times before. It means that the cable box thingy isn’t on but the TV is on but since there is nothing on either of the first two remote controls with a button saying “cable box thingy” I sighed and picked up yet another remote (the long one with some red buttons).

That’s when the Blu-ray player came on. And the DVD player shut off. Also the old VCR started flickering and grinding. I was starting to get an electricity related migraine.

Now I know that some of you remote control geniuses out there, or perhaps those of you with Masters degrees in aerospace engineering or ten years or more experience in the IT field are probably thinking – “Come on Harley, controlling your TV isn’t rocket science!” To which I can only reply: “No, you’re right. It’s actually voodoo.”

I mean, it even says right on the screen when (if) I finally get it to work, it even says: “SMART TV” in bold letters. Because, of course, it’s mocking me because I just threw one (or possibly two) of the clickers across the family room. (It’s OK though, I missed the cat.) (But not by much.)

And now the TV has a PVR (Portable Voodoo Rectifier), which is an awesome bit of magic but is also controlled by a remote. Which means by the time I have figured out how to activate the PVR after managing somehow to turn the TV on, turn the cable box thingy on, turn the playback machines on and set the volume etcetera my couch partner, the Better Half, has given up and is in the kitchen watching adorable kitten videos on her IPad.

By around midnight or so however, I figured out how to shut everything down without actually unplugging it. I just clicked every button on every remote until the house went dark and quiet. But I think I just started three of the neighbour’s cars.

Harley Hay is a Red Deer writer and filmmaker.

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