There are lots of things not to like about old age. My skin is thinner, I think. My wrinkles are more numerous and deeper. I don’t sleep, as well.
Worst, in some ways, is this: Never a particularly patient person, there are times when I let seemingly small problems ruin an entire weekend.
They did just that Saturday and Sunday.
Thanks to an unfortunate accident at our house a couple of years ago, my daughter and I ended up with a smart television. This weekend, it proved itself far brighter than I am, much to my dismay.
It wasn’t the television’s fault, of course. Mary and I wanted to rent a movie on a pay-per-view channel so we wouldn’t have to go out to entertain ourselves. The renting part, after a couple of false starts, was actually sort of easy.
Watching it was something else.
The television told me it had to be hooked up to the internet so we could see the movie we’d chosen. All well and good, but my internet connection and my television set are on opposite sides of the room, and there’s a pellet stove — our heat source this time of year — between them.
I don’t own an Ethernet cable, or at least I don’t think I do, and it wasn’t until I began writing this that I discovered what Ethernet cables do. We could easily have gone to the theater for less than most of the cables I could find in Bend.
That left us with a wireless connection. Fortunately, that’s a task I can handle, so I did.
Things got dicey after that. The television told me I had to turn off my cellphone and refrain from using the microwave in order to watch the movie. It’s bad enough to be bossed around by a kid, but having the TV do it was far worse.
Anyway, we finally turned the movie (“Bohemian Rhapsody”) on, or at least we tried to. We couldn’t get it to play, so we settled in for some “Law & Order” reruns.
That was Saturday. I turned the TV off Saturday night, as I always do, and went to bed. Sunday morning, it had somehow disconnected itself from the satellite system I’ve used for years. (I won’t trouble you with the remote control problems that accompanied all this except to say that the ones that work the satellite turn it and the television off when you push “on” sometimes, and sometimes work in reverse.)
I called what was billed as the “24/7” customer service number for the satellite, only to be told it was a retail outlet and not open. Argh! After much stewing around — and setting my daughter such a good example of calm in the face of irritation — I called again. And got an answer — from a machine that could not understand my replies to its questions.
Finally, the machine said it would, through the magic of science or space travel or something, reset my television. Lo and behold, whatever it did seemed to work. We didn’t try to watch our movie, however, for fear of re-creating the problem that had just been fixed. There was only one problem: The television in my bedroom won’t work. I don’t know if I have the strength and patience to get it fixed.
As I said, patience has never been a particular virtue of mine, and by Sunday night, whatever shred I normally have of the stuff was long gone. Poor Mary! I can just imagine how it must have felt to be stuck in the house with a lunatic disguised as her mother.
All of which left me, this morning, sheepish and remorseful. Mary didn’t deserve what she got from me this weekend, and I have no excuse for my behavior. The combination of aging and technology, at which I’ve never been particularly good, was no excuse.
— Janet Stevens is deputy editor of The Bulletin. Contact: 541-617-7821, email@example.com