A Remote Chance

How is it that we’ve managed to cram virtually every necessity we need into one single cell phone, but I still have seven TV remotes on the table next to my chair?

I remember the first time I saw a television set that had a remote. It was the early 1970s, and our new next-door neighbors had a black and white TV that had a remote.

The television looked just like ours. There was a knob to change channels, a volume knob, and a couple of other knobs that adjusted the vertical and horizontal hold. My sister and I had been threatened with our lives if we were caught touching the latter two.

But the difference between their TV and our TV was that they had a large, plastic box with a switch in the middle of it that allowed you to change the channel from wherever you were sitting.

The first time I saw it work, I was amazed. They could press that button and the knob would magically turn between the whopping three channels we received.

At my house, I was the remote control. “Johnny, get up and change it to Channel 12.”

That was 50 years ago. How has someone not made it a priority to integrate changing the television set, the DVR, the DVD player, the ROKU, Apple Stick, etc., into our smart phone?

How’d that slip through the crack?

I can even press a button on my cell phone and tell it to do things and it complies and does them immediately. But try telling it to put the TV on Columbo and the lady who lives in my phone just sits there politely telling me that she can’t do that.

This has to change.

My poor wife constantly has to ask me which remote does what, just so she can watch The Pioneer Woman or one of those house fixer-upper shows.

A couple of times, I’ve come home to find that the wrong buttons have been pushed and we aren’t getting The Pioneer Woman or a house show, but we are picking up a police scanner in Wyoming.

I usually get the buttons all pushed back where they should be just about the time Ree Drummond is saying, “Thanks for watching. I’ll see you next week!”

Now, I know that you’re probably thinking, “Buy a universal remote.”

Well, I did that. A universal remote really isn’t. I’ve yet to find one that really works. I mean one that allows you to sync up to every single device you have in the living room so that you can take all of the other remotes and stick them in a drawer.

The latest device I bought is an antenna DVR. It allows us to record TV shows from over-the-air broadcasts. It even has a little microphone in the remote where I supposedly can hold down a button and tell it to look for Columbo.

I tried it, but all I got was that police scanner from Wyoming.

By the time I got all of the buttons pushed back where they were supposed to be, Columbo was taking the bad guy to jail.

Look, don’t get me wrong. The TV remote control is one of the greatest inventions ever. It ranks right up there with canned beer and beef jerky. But, why can’t they just make all of this stuff in my living room work off of a phone app?

I don’t think I’m asking for too much. It’s a truly reasonable request.

Anyway, I gotta go. My wife’s calling. The remote isn’t working and she just told me to put down my beer and beef jerky and help change the channel. Or, at least try.


©2020 John Moore

John’s book, Write of Passage: A Southerner’s View of Then and Now, and his new book, Write of Passage Volume II, are available on Amazon and on John’s website at www.TheCountryWriter.com.




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