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September 19, 2022

Remote Control Living

By Tedi Trindle

One of the great mysteries of the universe is why the person who uses the television remote control the least is always the first person queried regarding its whereabouts. This mystery is right up there with the one of why the person least likely to go to the grocery store is always the person who eats the last of something and never tells anyone else they've done so.

In our house, I am the person least likely to know the location of the remote control. Not only do I only rarely watch television, I don't even know how to operate the remote. I keep other people around to do that for me. I do, however, know how to operate the power button which is actually on the television, and I think I am singular in that regard. I have seen family members wander around the house for hours in search of the remote just so they could turn the TV off.

Armed with this special knowledge, I know, down deep in my heart, that I could probably learn to understand the intricate workings of a remote control. Yet, once upon a time, when I was on an upward career path toward management, I yearned for keys which opened doors. Keys on a key ring symbolized power in that environment. As time went on, I gained keys, and, finally, the realization that the bearer of keys is required to actually get up and unlock doors on a frequent basis. That ended my love affair with being a keyholder.

With knowledge of how to operate the remote (and the VCR and the DVD player, and the answering machine, and the cable modem, and the wireless network, etc.) comes a similar responsibility. One is expected to operate them when it is needed. And to know the location of the remote control when it is (so very frequently) missing. And to be expected to join in the search for same when someone wishes to turn the television off.

This would probably not be so bad if it weren't for the fact that a) the remote control is magnetically attracted to the bottom of the interior of the sofa, and b) there are so many remote controls.

The laws of nature regarding remote controls are as follows:

--the remote is physically unable to remain in the last place it was laid down. It levitates spontaneously and moves to the one place the user has not been that day. Like the bottom drawer of the refrigerator.

--should the user know the location of the remote control, either the batteries will be dead or the remote will have forgotten its programming.

--when the user goes to the bathroom during a commercial break, the dog will find the remote and either chew it into its component parts or urinate on it.

--should the dog be remiss in its duties, the cat will step in to bat it under the piano or bury it in the litter box.

--should both the cat and dog be napping at the same time, a teenager (not necessarily one of yours) will wander through while carrying a large bag of Cheetos and borrow the remote because he or she cannot find their own. Said teenager will subsequently deny knowledge of the location of the remote, thus expanding the definition of the term "universal remote".

--once the search for the missing remote, which may last days and involve torches and pitchforks, has been given up and the person who most wishes its recovery goes out and purchases a new one, the old remote will materialize on the coffee table.

--there are remotes for everything, including car stereos which have a full array of controls ergonomically located at the fingertips of the driver, but only the one which is wanted will be missing. All other remotes will appear during the search, and subsequently disappear when it is their turn for use.

--remotes which are not currently needed multiply. When a user is searching for the stereo remote, not only will he or she find the television remote, they will also find remotes for which there is no known purpose. One can only assume that someone has sneaked into the house undetected and misplaced their remote while in attendance.

--once a remote, such as the television remote, has been located, the event the user wished to observe will be discovered to be scheduled for another date. Instead, reruns of "Touched by an Angel" or "Caddyshack II" will be the offered fare.

--should the user, now desperate to escape the living hell created by remote control living wish to escape by hopping in the car and driving to the nearest bar, the user will accidentally set off the car alarm and discover his car key remote's batteries are dead.

Someday, some enterprising designer will strike upon the idea that a "remote finder" function could be installed similar to those on cordless telephones. One would merely push a button on the appliance in question and the remote would beep endlessly from under the piano until the user tracked down the source of the beep. Until then, I shall remain in blissful ignorance. Desktop computers rarely go missing, and they don't require a remote control.
Article © Tedi Trindle. All rights reserved.
Published on 2003-04-07
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