The slogan on the digital adaptor was a tad misleading. “Meet Your TV’s New Best Friend,” it jauntily exclaimed.

Really, what they meant was meet your TV’s lifeline. Its cardiac defibrillator. The TV’s personal EMT.

Although my husband, Paul, went straight to the Time Warner offices as soon as we were alerted that we would need these things, I delayed installing them. So, eventually, the day arrived when the TVs died.

Paul came downstairs with a mournful look to tell me the news. He was lost without the TV to entertain him while he made the bed.

I groaned, and felt a headache coming on.

Right after we got the converters, I set to work installing them. It wasn’t hard to place the wires in the right places. The problem was, I couldn’t get the box to work. I was supposed to call an activation number. But first, I needed to connect all the boxes in the house. That would be three. I threw up my hands and said it would have to wait until I had more time.


Since the TVs kept going, I kept procrastinating. The fact is, I don’t watch much TV. We only have the most basic option, so, basically, I watch the news. We rent videos through Netflix and Redbox, borrow some through the Minerva inter-library loan system and stream others through our Wii or computers. Much of what we watch is British television — like one of my favorites, “Midsomer Murders.” I also have a serious addiction to viewing “Perry Mason” through on my iPad.

I am the techie of the house though, and Paul was eager to regain C-SPAN2 so he could watch “Book TV” on the weekends. I set to work.

In the back of my mind was a friend’s reaction to this ordeal. She had Time Warner do the work. That was my Plan B, I informed Paul. Life is too short — yada, yada, yada.

Setting up the living room television was not difficult, as I had already unpacked the components. Of course, when I turned the TV on, all I got was fuzz. I tramped upstairs to tackle the bedroom television. Then there was a little one in the guest room to deal with.

I opened the boxes and took out all the components. I removed them all from the plastic bags. I threw away all the extraneous materials. I swear this took me half an hour. Then I got the second TV connected. Turned it on. Fuzz.

As I rechecked the instructions, I noticed the booklet had a place to write down the serial numbers of the converter boxes. Reading the numbers on the box I’d just installed required me to track down my reading glasses, pull the box towards the light and then twist myself into a contortionist’s position so I could read the thing. Compounding the problem was my mathematical dyslexia. I had to check several times to make sure I wasn’t transposing the numbers.


I wisely noted the numbers on the third box before I installed it. That turned out to be unnecessary, as I couldn’t seem to hook up the tiny, ancient TV set.

I checked my watch. Forty-five minutes. Now I had to call to get the other two boxes activated.

Thankfully, the automated system automatically located our account, because I had no idea what our account number is. The television picture appeared, then disappeared. Another half hour or so of playing with the converter box and we were finally good to go.

Except there was nothing on we wanted to watch. There seldom is.

Yet, as children of the first television generation, we somehow feel a house is not a home without one.

This attitude persists no matter how much of our entertainment time is spent watching YouTube videos or streaming “Blackadder.”


If I wanted to play Pollyanna, I could say I realized my frustration was worth it when Paul came downstairs the next weekend morning and said, “Ah, ‘Book TV.’ Life is good.”

Hmmph. My TV’s New Best Friend knows I’m still mad. If I wake up in the middle of the night, its evil green eye is all I can see in the dark. “Why don’t you love me?” it beseeches.

Kid, you really don’t want to know.

Liz Soares of Augusta is a freelance writer and the author of “All for Maine: The Story of Gov. Percival P. Baxter.” She welcomes email at [email protected]

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