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5:31 a.m. - 2002-01-25


Lemme tell you kids something ... the retail world is out to get you.

All they want is your money. They don't care if you walk away satisfied...just as long as the money has changed hands and you're not going to ask for it back.

I get this RCA television...right?

It's got this thing called "Guide Plus". S'posed to be the greatest thing since sliced bread. It will tell you what's on TV up to a week ahead of time, then with the push of a button, you can remind your Guide Plus that you want to tape something.

Let's say you want to tape "Touched By An Angel" on Saturday night.

First off, you're one sick bastard if you actually want to TAPE "Touched By An Angel". I've never seen the show and I can already tell you what the plot's going to be. Somebody who's living on the sin side of life gets visited by a frightening apparition of Della Reese and starts living a more Christ-like life.

The end. No need to tape that shit.

But let's just say that's what you want to do. Far be it for me to keep you from your dreams.

You look it up in your Guide Plus. Where it says "Touched By An Angel", you click on it and make sure you have a tape in the VCR. Guide Plus tapes it for you. How simple is that?

It's damned simple, Chuckles. And it's the main reason I wanted this RCA TV.

But the Guide Plus wouldn't operate for me. I became frustrated. Depressed. Angry that I wouldn't be able to tape "Touched By An Angel" this week.

So I did some research and tracked down an actual phone number for customer service. Today, new owner's manuals won't list a phone number. They don't want to be bothered by your stupidity. If you have a question, you're lucky that they let you send them an email (but no more than 500 characters, please). Which is just enough room to type the profanities, let alone the actual problem.

Anyway, last night I call the number.

I explain my problem to the lady and casually mentioned "I have a digital cable box. Is that a problem?"

I expected to hear "No sir, that's not the problem."

But I heard "Oh. Guide Plus doesn't work with digital cable boxes."

Excuse me?

Pardon me?

I'm not sure I heard you correctly ... did you just say that Guide Plus doesn't work with digital cable boxes.

"Yes sir. The technology is so new that they're not equipped to handle Digital Cable Boxes."

Uhhhhhh...I've had digital cable for two years. This television was manufactured last year.

Clearly, the good folks at RCA have had ample time to remove the thumbs from their rectums and been able to figure out how to handle digital cable boxes, haven't they?

This upset me.

To the point where I got just a bit snappy with the woman on the other line.

"Well, don't you think I should have been told this before buying it?" I asked. "Nowhere on the box, on the information sheet, on the website or from my salesman's mouth did I hear those words."

The girl was understandably quiet. She smelled a full fledged tantrum about to erupt out of me and was stepping on eggshells. She said the only thing she could say at that point.

"I'm sorry sir."

"Look," I said. "I know you're not responsible for this and that you only handle the technical support here. But you may want to tell the people who make decisions for RCA that they might want to consider informing the consumers that this technological breakthrough in television viewing is not compatible with all cable boxes and not just take our money and leave us hanging."

"Yes sir," she said. "Have a good night."

"How in the hell am I supposed to have a good night, after you tell me that the reason I bought this television cannot be exploited in my own home because I happen to spend more money on my cable television than your average welfare mother?"


So now I have a television whose most appealing feature is of no use to me.

This may not sound like much to you.

But I'm an old geezer who comes straight home from work each night, flops into his recliner and watches television until it's time for bed.

This is my LIFE, dammit.

So tomorrow I leave for Oregon.

I'm a bit apprehensive now. Having not flown for about eight years, I have developed two severe phobias since my last flight...a fear of heights and claustrophobia.

I'm pretty sure I'll be okay, because I truly love to fly. And I think my fear of heights mainly manifests when I'm outside and high up, like a ferris wheel or some touristy lookout place while my claustrophobia is when I'm locked into a smaller space than an airplane cabin.

So if you guys see on the news tomorrow night about an airline passenger freaking out Peter Buck style, you can sit back and chuckle and say "That crazy Uncle Bob is at it again!"

Meanwhile, I'll be resting comfortably in a looney bin.

I've got a ton of errands to run tonight before tomorrow.

I have to get a prescription filled. A legal one.

I have to get my hair cut.

I have to get a special battery for my camera.

I have to iron up six shirts and six pairs of pants.

I have to get all the stuff done around the house that I would normally do on a weekend because I'll technically be "working" all weekend and won't be home to do it.

There's more stuff right now, but it's all on a list in the den and I'm too lazy to get up and get it.

Screw it. I've gotta get up and go get it and get started on ironing some clothes.

See ya later, gators.

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