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After the fight for a Christmas TV at Walmart, things can only get worse

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The new flat-screen at work has all the television program anyone really needs.


By Mark Rutledge

Saturday, October 20, 2018

The conference room at work has a new wide-screen TV hanging on the wall. It’s the size that can start fights inside a Walmart on Christmas Eve.

Before a recent staff meeting, someone joked that we could turn on the “Price Is Right” or “Dr. Phil” or some other staple of daytime television rather than discuss important workplace business. I proudly shared that I have not watched a drop of daytime TV in years.

Come to think of it, I have not watched network television programming at all (not counting occasional snippets of “Blue Bloods” at my mother’s house) for at least 12 months. Due to a broken fitting where the antenna screws into the back of our TV, internet streaming is our only option.

In other words, if it’s not on Netflix it’s not on our wide-screen. And as far as I’m concerned, our family programming can stay that way.

My wife has other ideas. She likes to have the local news and weather on in the mornings. And she misses being able to enjoy college football without having to visit friends or a sports bar.

Sharon recently started dropping threats about making the house we’re building cable-television ready.

“Perish the thought!” I said, smugly. Subscribing to cable again would ruin my reputation as an honest journalist, I argued. It would mark the third time that our family has renewed ties with the devil’s coaxial after I had publicly vowed never to do so again.

Sharon insists that her interest in cable is solely for the high-speed internet. But that’s what got us into trouble the last time. We used the fast internet but never even installed the cable box for the television offerings.

The few networks coming in on the HD antenna, we agreed, were better than going back to 500 channels and nothing on.

Just after renewing the cable contract, the cellphone company offered unlimited data for less money. We wrote the extra $200 check to buy out the remainder of our cable contract, and wrote it off as money well spent.

In the world of cable subscriptions, turning in the box and buying out the contract are transactions that must be conducted in person. Any doubts about ending a cable television account always evaporate while waiting in line to do so.

It is a well-documented fact that waiting in line at the cable office is the only experience that ranks as low as waiting in line to take a driving test at the DMV. The difference is that one line is a necessary evil for moving about in modern society, and the other line is just plain evil.

It turns out that unlimited data on a cellphone account does not translate to unlimited high-speed internet. I’ll give Sharon that much. It can be frustrating switching between hotspots just to send an email.

But suppose the cable goes out on the last day to pay the bill without registering a late penalty. Who will go and stand in that line?

Don’t look at me. I have a reputation to consider — and a perfectly good television at the office.

Contact Mark Rutledge at mrutledge@reflector.com or like him on Facebook at Mark Rutledge Columns.