Remote Control Junkie

ImageThis is a piece I wrote in 1999. Can’t tell you how surprised I was when I read it today. All my techno-references were vintage 1999 so I had to do a major overhaul to bring it into the 21st century. But the sentiment remains and, in some ways, is more timely than ever. I used to be able to set up and maintain All of our devices from computers to TVs. Once even set up a splitter for Picture in Picture. Thought I was hot stuff when it came to cables, wires, input & output ports, etc. but now they are so complicated, I need the Geek Squad. Alas, time marches on…

Close-up of an Interviewer with a man who looks very disheveled and tired.

Interviewer: I’m told they call you a Remote Control Junkie.  How does that make you feel?

Man: (stammering) Well, I wouldn’t exactly call myself that. People are just so willing to put labels on things.

Camera pulls back to show an array of electronic equipment: Google TV, DVR Cable Box, Sony Blu-Ray DVD player and stereo system, Sony CD player with iPod adapter, Wii player, Sony Playstation, Microsoft Xbox  and a coffee table with about 10 remote control devices on it.  Remnants of snack food on the table and the man looks like he been sitting in his chair for a very long time without interruption.

Interviewer: Well, Sir, be honest—you have a lot of remote controls there. Could it be that you have—[pause] too many?

Man: Nah, nah—each one has a very specific function so I need them all. [Man is nervously flipping channels, muting TV to play stereo and then back to TV sound and swapping between devices with a kind of crazed look in his eyes]

Interviewer: When was the last time you got some sleep, Sir? You look pretty tired.

Man: Tired? No, not at all. The Late Show will be on in a minute. I always stay up this late.

Interviewer: That brings us a good point. When I tried to schedule this interview for earlier today, I was told you were too busy. But you don’t look all that busy.

Man: Well, earlier I had to see the Today Show and Morning Joe and then later I had to see The View and Kelly Ripa. Couldn’t miss them.  And then I had to record a show on HBO and MAX. It’s a full day.

Interviewer: But those shows are all aired at the same time. How do you keep up with them all?

Man: (looking pleased) Have you ever heard of DVR? Man, it’s great. I can record two shows at the same time. Or watch one and record the other. Man…

Interviewer: Sir, there’s talk that you’re a bit unstable.

Man: There’s those labels again. Unstable, smable. Folks are just jealous that I got things under control here, no pun intended.

Interviewer: I have a YouTube video to show you—maybe it will help you see where you’re headed if you don’t take a break here and get some rest.

Man: Sure, sure, just let me eject the DVD that’s in the player [pushes the button on the Remote Control to eject the DVD but makes no move to get up to get it]  They really need to put a button on these dang things that inserts the DVD too.

Interviewer goes to the DVD player, removes a disc and puts one in from her briefcase.  An image pops on the screen of an old man sitting in his driveway in a recliner with a remote control in his hand and as he pushes the buttons, the garage door goes up and down—over and over again. He looks entirely captivated as though he’s watching a movie.

Interviewer: Do you see that man, sir?  He has lost his mind and has nothing left but that garage door opener. Your family would like to save you from that fate? [reaches over and attempts to take the Remote Control from the man’s hand]

Man: [resists the attempt to take the Remote Control]  Man, that is really cool.  Look at that!!  A Big Screen TV (referring to the garage door).  I gotta get me one of those.