You know what they say: “It always happens in threes.” So it was recently with three of my longtime companions. I lost my home compact disc (CD) recorder, my home DVD recorder, and my work DVD recorder. The cause of death? A combination of outdated parts, and dirty, scratched heads.
Sure, I could send them off to some mysterious repair service to be patched and cleaned, but at what cost? As every customer service rep is trained to say, occasionally in English, “It would be cheaper to buy a new one. And I just happen to have a deal for you!”
So, I removed the only parts with any value (the remote control batteries), and thanked my old machines for their service. To be fair, they had high mileage. I started recording music on CDs before it became easier to do on a computer, and I’m still in the midst of a decades-long project to convert my old VHS tapes to DVD, many of which you can see on my Chattanooga Radio TV YouTube Channel.
I shopped online for replacement devices, found some good buys, and I’m thrilled with the results. My new machines work, for now anyway. That’s the good news. You know what comes next.
While disconnecting and reconnecting all the wires and cables that go into the receivers, stereos and TV sets, I found myself with a few extras. Some came boxed with the new machines, and some of the older ones are no longer needed. As I was throwing the old wires and cables into my big box labeled, “Old Wires and Cables,” I realized I might be the reason Radio Shack went out of business. I have all of its inventory.
As I was digging around behind the TV set, I found a huge plug, tying up two spaces on my already overcrowded receptacle strip. After tracing its cord through a curled, twisted jungle of lookalikes, I learned it was attached to absolutely nothing. It was just plugged in, with no purpose to serve. I’m sure it had been there since Joe Biden was a rookie senator. For many years, it had looked important, so I never moved it. I remembered all the times I needed an extra outlet or two. Of course, I’m keeping that mystery plug and cord because surely I own something that needs it. Something valuable, like an 8-track player.
I’ve kept all those old wires and cables, because they have come in handy on occasion. I have a 90-year-old friend down the street. He’s still a proud VCR owner, and he thinks I’m a genius because I know how where all those cables are supposed to go. He will always consider me a genius as long as my repairs are limited to his TV/VCR connections. If I’m ever called upon to fix his sink or his car, my reputation will be ruined.
My collection ranges from the wildly popular RCA AV cables (good) to the mysterious S-Video (better) to the 21st century HDMI (best). I have a bunch of those red, green and blue component cables too, although I’ve never used them. I’ve learned that the off-brand $5 cables deliver the same colorful picture that the big-name $50 ones do. I have all sorts of male to female extensions, male to male adapters, female to female couplers, and other scandalous combinations.
I have charging cables for cell phones like the kids used on “Saved By The Bell.” I have those wide-mouth computer cables that Bill Gates phased out about ten Windows ago. I have headphone jack adapters from an era in which a “pod” was where a pea resided. If any of these products ever make a comeback, I’m ready. In fact, if I connected all of my cords, cables and wire, and aimed them toward the White House, they would generate enough static electricity to make President Trump’s hair stand on end.
Now that I’ve replaced my dilapidated old machines with smooth-humming new models, what will I do with all of these unnecessary connection cables? There has to be a Radio Shack somewhere. I figure my collection could re-open about three stores.
David Carroll, a Chattanooga news anchor, is the author of “Volunteer Bama Dawg,” a collection of his best stories. You may contact him at 900 Whitehall Road, Chattanooga, TN 37405 or firstname.lastname@example.org.