LOTTA TIME TO kill these days while practicing social distancing and mourning the closure of coffee shops, restaurants, bars, and retail stores.
So we old folks sleep, eat, take a walk, rest, eat, take a walk, work on a 1000 piece puzzle, rest, take another walk, eat, watch the news…and then evening! Netflix! Woohoo! One bazillion shows to watch!
Except on this night, Netflix isn’t coming through. We click on the Netflix app, but instead of taking us through the normal sequence to the actual shows, the darn Netflix logo disappears for two seconds, then stubbornly returns. But of course, since we’re old people, we keep on clicking it, ten-twelve times, figuring that eventually the screen will get the idea that we want to go to the actual shows! We paid for this! It worked yesterday! What happened?
The screen doesn’t seem to understand. So we unplug everything (a highly sophisticated trick we’ve learned) and after a deep breath, plug it back in and wait. No change. Then we click on the Netflix logo another ten-twelve times, just to see if maybe word has finally gotten through to the Netflix gods that a subscriber in Marquette, Michigan is unhappy.
We call Netflix support. Twenty minutes of waiting while we briefly sample fifty different TV channels airing fifty stupid, insipid TV shows. Finally an answer from a Netflix lady with lotsa questions: What kind of TV do you have? A blue ray player? Had this problem before? Have you tried unplugging it? And then, while she’s on the line, we unplug it for three minutes. Maybe that was the problem–we just didn’t unplug it long enough.
Uh, no. Still doesn’t work. Well, says the Netflix lady, looks like you’ve got a problem. We’ll get our engineering staff on it, and they’ll get back to you.
Five days pass. We return to working on our puzzle–400 pieces to go. Still no Netflix, no communication from the engineering team.
Another call to Netflix support. A forty-six minute wait this time, then the Netflix lady picks up. Same questions, same answers, same failed solutions. Okay, says the Netflix lady, we’ll put this on “expedited” status for the engineering staff and they’ll get back to you.
Three days later, they still haven’t gotten back to us. They must be busy with the “super-expedited” customers.
So reluctantly, we take one of the Netflix lady’s suggestions and watch Netflix on our laptop computer instead of the big TV. The screen, which once measured 47 inches diagonally, is now only 12 inches. Dinky. Might be all right on a plane but no, it’s not a satisfying cinematic experience in our darkened living room. We go back to our puzzle.
But wait a minute! Brilliant idea! We’ve got a DVD/VCR machine and some great DVD’s and VHS’s from 10 or 20 years ago!
“The Sopranos!” Seasons 1, 2, and 3! Now we’re talking. That’ll take us through a couple of weeks of the COVID-19 lockdown.
Okay, we insert the VHS of Season 1 into the VHS slot…and hit Play…and…nothing. Oh, maybe it’s the wrong input. Okay, try AV…Antenna…HDMI 1…HDMI 2…HDMI 3…Component….Gotta be Component, right? Nothing. Just a blue screen with the words “No Signal.” Well, let’s try all the different inputs again. S-l-o-w-l-y. Maybe the machine just needs a little time to figure it out. Strangely, we get exactly the same result every time. Nothing.
Darn. Well, we have the second season on DVD which is a more modern format. Maybe that’s the problem. Absolutely, gotta be. Okay, we insert the DVD and wait, breathlessly….until…a picture! The HBO logo! And “The Sopranos”sound sound track! It works! It works!
In black and white.
Wait, what? “The Sopranos” was in color, right? Well, not on our TV, and we find no buttons to push to give us color. So we watch the first episode, vaguely disappointed, in black and white. But then as we’re nearing the end of the second episode, the DVD suddenly, inexplicably, shoots forward ten minutes to the start of the third episode. What?!
Should we try to rewind it ten minutes? Naah. Screw it, we’re tired, let’s claim partial victory in our battle against technology for this night, and go to bed.
The following night, we again cozy up on the couch and click the remote to start episode three. Can’t get past the menu. The sound track plays over and over again, seeming to mock us as we pound buttons on the remote. Nothing happens. Then, thinking outside the box, we discover another remote in a dusty drawer. Aha! Maybe that’s the real remote for the DVD player! We blow off the dust and start pushing its buttons. Nothing. Maybe it needs new batteries! Yeah, that’s it! We insert new batteries and pound some more buttons.
Nothing. And then we discover that this newly discovered, dusty remote actually works….on our stereo.
We shove all the remotes aside and sit back on our couch, intellectually and emotionally exhausted. And then decide to head back to our technology-free puzzle. Still 250 pieces to go.
Meantime, we wait for the Netflix engineers to get back to us.