Did Santa find us in the wilds of Canada?
Yes. No problem. Wilderness poses no problem for flying reindeer and a jolly fat man with a GPS. Nor for Santa either.
Santa left Olga a flat-screen colour TV. On Xmas day, we (the family) mounted it according to instructions. We hooked it up according to instructions. And we flipped the switch.
A perfect picture.
Just one problem. It was perfectly black-and-white.
Well, yeah, we fussed and we fumed. We read and re-read the manual. We searched arcane corners of the Internet. We phoned the manufacturer’s toll-free number and talked for forty minutes with a techie.
We. Had. Done. Everything. Right. We had followed instructions. Manufacturer’s solution? We got a dud. Return to point of sale.
Point of sale was three hours away by road. Forty minutes by flying reindeer. After company had left, I opted for the road, the reindeer being exhausted.
Three hours later, I stood in line at the Returns desk at the freakin’ store. FS, for short. Forty minutes later, I faced the cashier. Yes. No problem. I could return the TV. But. Where was the TV’s stand? For forty seconds I thought hard. Oh. I had forgotten it. We didn’t use it because we bought a wall mount separately.
Sorry, sir. FS cannot accept the return item if it is missing parts.
Well, it was missing a part. It was missing its colour. I didn’t say that, I thought that. Okay, I said, not thought, it is missing a 23-cent piece of plastic, which I will bring next time I make the trip. Just gimme a TV with genuine colour.
Sorry, sir. We cannot accept a TV with a missing part. Unless, of course (and this she thought), it is something vital like colour.
Let me speak to a manager.
No problem, sir.
How can I help you, sir? Well, I said, I want to return this colour TV because it has no colour, and I have forgotten a piece of plastic that was in the original package, and I live three hours away, so it will take me six hours for the round trip, not counting time for meals, and accidents on ice-coated highways, and pee breaks (This latter part I thought, not said). And this is, after all, the season of giving and good will – I wish I’d said that.
We stood there, the manager and I, looking at each other, and looking at the offending box with the colour-free TV. And the line of Returners grew longer and longer.
Tell you what, said the manager. You buy ANOTHER TV, you pay for it, and you TAKE BACK your colour-free TV, which is useless to us without the 23-cent piece of plastic, and sometime in the future, when you return to our fair city, (And by the way, did you also purchase the extended warranty? No? Well, that is a problem), you bring back the whole shebang, including the worthless piece of plastic, and we will refund your money. In full. No problem. And that, sir, is a great solution. We can work with that. Just trust us. Please, please, please, pretty please trust us. Yes, the manager said most of that, and implied the rest.
We stood there looking at each other. The line grew longer.
Finally. He. Said. Look, let us test your TV, see if we can find the problem.
No problem, I said.
And the line grew shorter by one Returner.
The manager was as good as his word. He hooked up the colour-free TV and lo, and whoa, and whoopee, the screen lit up with a logo that had a green tinge to it. Proof, said the manager. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt that there’s not a single thing wrong with your TV, that you have been wasting my time and apparently trying to perpetrate a fraud upon the honourable company of FS, which has bent over backwards to fill up your holidays with joys and blessings and corporate benevolence. He said some of that, thought the rest.
Sorry, I said.
Maybe he was right. I packed up my TV and drove three hours to our cabin in the bush.
I mounted the TV and hooked it up according to instructions.
A perfect picture. Again.
An incredible black-and-white.I studied the manual again. It was not a hundred-and-forty-page volume as in days of yore, written in coherent paragraphs with every single term defined and illustrated with diagrams and photographs. In days of now, you get a single ledger-size sheet printed in a language that resembles yours in 4-point type so that you are apt to suffer a double corneal hernia as you spell out each word and try to string them together into intelligible sentences. Don’t begin to imagine you can understand the techno-speak. And the acronyms are inventive and often indecipherable: HDMI, SAP, CC, ETC.
After several hours, I focused on the operations labeled INPUT. Each of the several INPUT options had its own breakaway options. Absolutely no guidance from the manual. There had been no guidance from the manufacturer’s techie nor any guidance from the FS manager. So I winged it. I ended up with one that read VIDEO : SATELLITE. It was highlighted.
I stared at this INPUT option on the black-and-white screen. It was highlighted. Nothing. Was. Working. I had my finger on the SELECT button. In my frustration, I tapped my finger.
I got colour.
A perfect picture.
So, Olga and I have two words for the manufacturer of our brand new now very colourful TV and its sales outlet in Thunder Bay.
Please, invent an acronym for that.
And Happy New Year, everyone!
It can only get better.