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Lynne Champlin, Coffee, Tea and Me: Creatures of Habit (or who controls your TV remotes?)
Coffee, Tea and Me

Lynne Champlin, Coffee, Tea and Me: Creatures of Habit (or who controls your TV remotes?)

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Are you and your partner creatures of habit? Does your life just feel so natural that you never think about how you have set up your own rituals, patterns, or habits? You never discuss these because you have never noticed them. Your life just works and that is fine with you both.

I am writing about little meaningless choices you make every day. Do you always sit in the same place while watching television? It just doesn’t feel right if you sit where your partner usually sits. How about the dinner table? Do you always follow the same pattern day after day? We have noticed that even on the patio, we seem to have assigned seating.

The funny thing is that we have never discussed these things. All of these things just seem normal to me. It even happens when we stay in a hotel. At night, I always pick the same side of the bed, just like at home.

But does this casual behavior decide who takes charge of the television remotes? In today’s television viewing with so many choices, using those remotes can be a challenge. This is an important decision for enjoyable television viewing.

Like you, we have been watching more television since the beginning of the coronavirus. And most of it is on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple or some other streaming service. Often when we finish watching a movie, we do not reset the TV back to regular TV. My husband says, “Change the input setting.” I don’t really know what he is talking about. So the result is that if he leaves in the morning and I turn the TV on I get the dreaded message, “No Signal.”

When this happens, I have no idea how to fix it. I usually screw up the television set controls by pushing all the wrong buttons. And he is not a happy camper when he has to fine-tune it again.

So now you know who is in charge of our four television remote controls. They live on a TV table in a little box made by a friend. It is in front of his place where he sits to watch TV.

So, after being home all this time, I decided I have had enough of this. I thought of a way I can easily learn how to control the television. My first announcement that day was to say that from now on, I am going to control the remotes. I am overruling the Judge. Besides the Court of Appeal, the only other person who can do this is a Judge’s wife, husband or partner.

As it turns out, this has not been an easy or fun decision on my part, but it is happening. He is now making me operate the TV remotes every evening. I am pressing lots of wrong buttons, not pointing it in the right direction, or I am not fast enough pressing those little arrows up or done. We have many do-overs but we are sticking with my plan even if I don’t really like it. Did I say I am not a “techie”?

To get myself through these trying times, I came up with an idea. I took photos of our four TV remotes with my phone. Then I emailed them to myself and printed two copies each.

We sat down at the kitchen island and Philip then told me in detail what remote went with which TV or device. He told me how to use the arrows and buttons for the right results. I was busy writing, labeling each remote, drawing lines and arrows with descriptions of what they did on the sides of the paper. My first copy was a mess but my finished product on the second copy was pretty clear.

Then, I cut out each unit with the written descriptions, glued them to sheets of paper and laminated them double sided. So now I have illustrated instructions on the four devices to follow when I take control of the TV remotes. It isn’t perfect but it helps a lot.

When I took these illustrated instruction sheets to be laminated, the clerk had a questioning look when she saw them and I told her what I was doing. She smiled and said she understood. She said she had the same problem where she lived with her roommates.

A woman customer was standing close by and heard our conversation. She looked at me smiling and said, “I need a copy”.

I told her that I was doing a column on the subject of television remotes. She asked for my name and the name of my column in the Napa Valley Register. She said she would look forward to reading it. We were smiling and laughing, I think she might do the same thing or just read this column to her partner. So I am doing this column in her honor as a thank-you for encouraging me to write about this nightly problem.

Years ago, I remember meeting a woman who lived in a retirement home. She told me that she wished she could find a boyfriend with a car. If she has troubles with her television viewing, it might be more important to follow my instructions on how to make a guide for her remotes. But if that fails, her next step might to be to find a boyfriend who can run the remote television controls and forget the car.

Here are my “remote guides”. Your remotes are probably different than mine, so you will have to make your own. But if your remotes are the same, feel free to copy these and use them. No charge. I like happy readers.



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