I curled up on the couch last night with Dazey and, after knitting for an hour or so, decided to watch television.
I turned it on and began surfing through the channels to see if there was anything on that interested me. In less than a minute, I was finished and the television was back off. You see, it doesn’t take long to check the offerings on 9 channels.
Disgusted by the almost-nightly interruptions of service (on gorgeous evenings with nary a cloud in the sky) and the counter-intuitive and customer-unfriendly on-screen channel and program search system, last month I unhooked the Charter television box from my TV and returned it to the local office. I’d been a DirecTV customer for almost 20 years and loved it, but when I moved into this house, the installer (mistakenly) told me I couldn’t get service at this location, so I had to sign on with Charter. I quickly learned, though, that it wasn’t a good fit for me.
My son went with me to Best Buy to purchase an in-home antennae, and he hooked it up for me. My channel line-up is unlike anything I’ve had before; it’s even different than what I had in this same town pre-cable/satellite TV. Back then, we could watch 3, 6, or 12 — ABC out of Harrisburg, Illinois; NBC out of Paducah, Kentucky; or CBS from my hometown.
I can’t pick up channel 3 now. Instead, I have 6-1, which appears to be “regular” NBC, 6-2, and 6-3, along with 12-1, which is “regular” CBS, 12-2, and 12-3, which is Grit. From what I can tell, Grit is the home of more “manly” programs — westerns, James Bond movies, cop dramas, etc.
Manly or not, I’ve watched it a few times. The other night, in fact, I turned on mid-way through the movie “Billy Jack” — the original starring Tom Laughlin, not the Joe Don Baker version. I sat back and watched the final 45 minutes of the movie that more than a few years ago stirred my then-13-year-old’s righteous indignation at the prejudice of small-minded people and caused me to consider becoming a teacher on a Native American reservation. As it did over 40 years ago, the ending made me sob.
Along with the 3 channel 6’s and the 3 channel 12’s, I get 3 Fox channels; alas, neither of the 3 are Fox Sports Midwest, which would allow me to watch my beloved St. Louis Cardinals.
In truth, only 6-1, 12-1, and 23-1 show programs that are new; the rest are filled with reruns of old favorites like “Newhart”, Bob Newhart’s show that took place in an inn in Vermont (not to be confused with the show in which he was a dentist in New York) and “Perry Mason”, as well as old programs I didn’t care for back then and don’t care for now (“The Dukes of Hazard”, for example).
Oh, and I should explain that the 3 channel 6’s have, for some reason, only been available about 1/2 of the evenings I’ve bothered to turn on the television.
And that’s an interesting thing — interesting to me, at least. I, a person who for the majority of my adult years turned on the television almost immediately upon waking up and left it on virtually all the time I was home (except for when I went to bed), rarely even think to turn on the television now.
You might think that the lack of program variety has caused me to change my viewing habits so drastically, but as I’ve been writing this post, I’ve realized that isn’t the case at all.
I don’t know why or how it happened, but my desire to watch — or even just listen to — television all the time disappeared when I carried the cable box out to the car that June morning over a month ago.
Don’t get me wrong — I still watch television. But I only watch when I have absolutely nothing else to do or am tired of doing everything else I have to do.
I know there are programs I will miss and times I will feel lost, even deprived. I’m already anticipating and trying to prepare myself for college and professional football season. No longer will I sit on the couch, surrounded by papers that need to be graded and snack food, every Sunday afternoon until bedtime, every Monday and Thursday night, and Saturday afternoons and evenings.
And the Olympics! A prolific Olympic-watcher, I soak up every event, staying up far later than I should to watch competitions live if need be.
It’s very possible that I will sign on for pay-television again. Who knows? I may not even make it through football season.
But for now, at least, I’m going to relax and enjoy the peace and tranquility that come when I turn off the tv.