The Retiree by Jerry Hoem

Back in the olden days, I got my introduction to the world of data processing by being the systems contact for a conversion from manual stencils to a mainframe computer. I was working for a now-defunct mail order house, since obliterated with huge dynamite charges, asitwasthelargestpouredconcretebuilding west of Chicago.

The real live computer was in Kansas City, and the conversion was to punched cards. I was responsible for sending piles of cards down there every Tuesday, and taking care of errors made by a dozen keypunch operators in the process. Now nobody knows what a main frame computeris, andcardsdisappearedaneonago.

Somehow I became equally obsolete regarding television. Our kids decided to drag us into the modern age by getting rid of our satellite dish, substituting wifi. What’s that, I thought. We were modern enough, but went along with it.

In my youth TV was received by an antenna. Ours was on the roof instead of ugly “rabbit ears” on top of the set. The set was a Hallicrafters, a hunk of furniture with a 14-inch screen and phonograph. Some day I’ll explain to our grandkids what that is.

The new process involved a wire underground to provide a hotspot for our smart phones, also an attempt to make us modern. Since the line was there, the company suggested we use their cable TV service. We said no, we’ll get along with wifi providers. Kids said a couple they liked. We did, until we tired of reruns of Bonanza, Lucy, Cheers, etc. They suggested getting an antenna for local stations— back to the ‘fifties. The choices we’d been using were costly compared to the cable.

So we plunged ahead, opting for cable. They saids well, we’ll do it, and they did. Then we discovered we didn’t know how to make it work.

I tried their websites. They have videos to show how to open boxes, plug in stuff, do Android and I-phone magic, look for movies, everything but what I wanted, which was pictures in my house.

Websites and ads did provide phone numbers. I called the cable guys. I had to give my name, email address, home address, phone number, last four of my credit card, age, eye color, name of my first dog, and favorite teacher to  get someone to talk. Wrong person. Transfer. Give all the stuff again. Wrong department, transfer. Repeat. Got the guy who repairs poles. Transfer. Repeat. Finally got someone who understood me. He said keep the remote from wifi adventures and look for his icon.

We found it! Finally we got real TV shows. We decided to eat supper.

Then after supper, we signed on again. The screen said sorry, unknown error, try again later.

Occasionally the Hallicrafters would blow a tube—I need to explain tubes to thekids—or a bird would mess up the antenna. Nothing is perfect. Still, stuff that worked in the ‘fifties should work a little better now.

And, we got the pictures free. All four channels.