It was one of those simple questions that I could not let pass.
“What is the greatest advancement of your lifetime?” the speaker asked the seminar audience. Non-medical, he added. Everyday life, he suggested.
Of course, the popular shout-out answer was cell phone. Hard to argue. I was captive to mine while I should have been listening to the speaker. Some things never change. If I were in school, I'd still get a checkmark by “Practices Self-Control” on my report card.
Other answers: the Internet, microwave oven, cordless tools, satellites, drones, digital music and ATMs.
One wise guy in the crowd suggested the new ice cream by Ben & Jerry’s with the cookie core center. I’ll reserve my judgment because I haven’t tried it yet.
There were so many possibilities that I could not come up with one answer. So much has changed in my 56 years. I thought about those cars that park themselves. Amazing. But I couldn’t think of the right word to shout out. I didn’t want to seem uncool.
That same night, I was home watching the Cardinals game on TV. I got up and went into the garage. I came back to watch the game and couldn’t find the TV remote control.
Lose the remote and panic strikes.
Been going on for decades.
“Anyone seen the clicker?” I wanted to ask aloud, but I knew nobody was home but me.
The clicker. You know you’ve been around awhile when you use that word.
It’s in reference to an old world without TV remotes when you actually had to stand and click a TV dial by hand from channel to channel. It wasn’t that big of a deal. There were only five or six channels. You also had aluminum foil on the antennae. That ensured you could get Channel 11 clearly and wouldn’t miss “Wrestling at the Chase,” “The Three Stooges” or “F Troop” reruns. Helped if your TV was next to the picture window, too.
That recent night, I found the remote control deep down on the side of the cushion in the chair where I had been sitting. I’ve been misplacing TV remote controls for many decades. I’ve never officially lost one. It always shows up in one of the following places: side cushion of the couch or chair, refrigerator, food pantry, bathroom, work briefcase.
Yep. I’ve put the TV remote in the refrigerator a few times. Don’t ask me why. Only have two hands, I guess. Something had to be set down. It wasn’t going to be the chocolate milk.
Yep. Work briefcase, too. Don’t ask me how. I was as surprised as anyone when I found it there the next day. Relieved, though.
Bathroom? I figured it was the one room in which no one would follow me to grab control.
At that moment, after my mini panic attack subsided, I knew I had my vote for one of the greatest advancements of my lifetime.
The TV remote control.
Let's be real here. TV remotes are not a great technological advancement. But I can get by a few hours, even days, without the Internet, microwave oven, cordless tools, satellites, drones, digital music and ATMs.
But even after all these years, temporarily lose the TV clicker and you’d think my little world is coming to an end.
It’s hard to relax when you can’t find the clicker. But I feel good when I have the TV remote control in hand. Especially simple ones with fewer options. TV remotes are a lot like my cell phones, I use only a fraction of their capabilities.
TV remotes are not a new invention. But I remember when we didn't have them. I first used one when my late parents were around. It’s always been known as “the clicker” in my homes, although I have never heard one that actually clicked. Growing up, “clicker” control was a seat of power. Dad usually had honors until he fell asleep in the chair. Then we gently lifted it from his hand and stole the power from his fingertips. Some evenings, we thought Dad was sound asleep but he’d open an eye and say aloud, “Can’t you just leave it on one station?”
I don’t like when there are multiple remotes for the same TV system. I get confused when there’s one for the TV itself. One for cable. One for the VCR. All lying on the same table. About that time, I feel really old and call in someone under age 30 to the rescue.
In our world today, we often feel like we have no control. But it’s always a good feeling to have the old TV clicker in hand. Weather. Sports. News. History. Pawn shops. Outdoor survivalists. Taped programs. All just a click, click, click away.
So, for now at least, if the TV clicker is my greatest non-medical advancement of my lifetime, what is second?
Probably my cell phone, satellites or the Internet. Add those cars that park themselves. But I’ll reserve my vote until I try that new ice cream with the cookie core center.