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Saying Goodbye an Old TV

Published in ChicagoNow, March 21, 2016

I just bid farewell to what was once a marvel of technology, our 32-inch Panasonic TV. Back in 1999, we thought she was state of the art, but now she had become something difficult to discard, and new technology beckons.

We had to bump her down the stairs on a dolly, all 125 pounds of her. She’s headed for ABT Appliance, which will recycle her for free when we buy a new television of the same size for less than one-third of what we paid for her. Plus, her replacement will weigh less than one-tenth as much. So it goes with technology: smaller, cheaper, better.

When we brought Old TV home 17 years ago, we traded in our really, really old TV. It had been a wedding gift from my grandparents back in 1968, and it still worked. But she wasn’t compatible with the new cable subscription we wanted, so we let her go. The 1999 beauty graced our family room for many years before being relegated to our bedroom and then to the place where old televisions go to die in our home, the guest/exercise room.

But here’s the thing. She still worked. I have a hard time letting go of something that functions, even if it is huge, unsightly, and seriously outmoded. My husband is not sentimental. He likes his televisions flat and HD-compatible. And he loves a bargain that includes recycling, so he took her away along with a few companions – two broken old TV sets that have been languishing in our basement waiting for an opportunity to recycle them.

Because I had little interest in this venture, I stayed home to write about it. I didn’t really care which TV he brought home. Instead, I was waxing nostalgic for what was happening in our lives 17 years ago when Old TV was a shiny, new purchase so filled with promise. We bought her the year our son, our first child, got married. It was part of our tradition. When he left home for the first time to go to overnight camp, we bought a freezer. I guess we thought getting something new would distract us from letting go.

In 1999, our second child became engaged. Our baby also celebrated a milestone that year. She graduated from college and moved out on her own. So, we were officially empty nesters. Did we buy Old TV to help fill that void? With no kids living at home, did we turn to cable to drown our sadness in episodes of Friends, The Sopranos, The West Wing, Sex and the City, ER, and Will and Grace? OMG – we watched too many shows, some of which were not that great.

Letting go of Old TV was just step one of the plan. My “frenemy” Comcast had just informed me on the back of my recent bill that I could now have X-1 cable for free. By replacing my two old DVR boxes, I would now be able to record up to eight shows at the same time and watch them upstairs or downstairs. While I can’t even think of four things I would want to record at the same time, who could turn down a free offer like that? Not me.

Step two was all on me. I arranged for Comcast to deliver two new boxes and take away the old ones to recycle. My husband and I decided to pony up $50 to have Comcast do this job rather than our first impulse to make it a DIY project. Turns out that was a wise choice. Our technician arrived at 9:50 (still 10 minutes to spare in our window) but one of the boxes was defective and we needed new cables. By 12:50 we were almost good to go. My morning was shot, leaving me plenty of time to finish this post. And I now had more technology I could barely work.

As I wrote this, I wondered what exactly would be repurposed from all of our recycled discards. Because the technology is so outmoded, could any of it really be used? I worry that Old TV will end up in a landfill where she will live forever. And that New TV will be broken within two years and join her there.

It is time to stop obsessing about my old TV and wrap this up. Now I have New Remote and New DVR to figure out. Wow, this remote allows me to command it to find whatever I want to see by talking to it. Score. Out with the old and in with the new.

All of this leaves me wondering when someone will say the same thing about me.


by Laurie Levy
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