Family is an important thing. If you don’t believe me, watch any sitcom from the nineties. Each season had at least a dozen episodes where the protagonist (noun, meaning the character that you are supposed to care about) learns how important family is.
The answer is always “very.”
Inevitably, though, the character would, only a week later, completely forget that his/her family was important. He/she would then say things like, “Why don’t you just butt out of my life?” That character then would, yet again, learn all about the importance of family, usually having the family unit’s value pointed out by a senior citizen. Senior citizens are always wise like that, at least until they slip into senility.
Since relearning the same thing every week seems like a huge waste of time, I have decided to skip this entire process in my own life. Instead, I have locked away this and many other sitcom lessons thus saving me the time of learning them on my own. (Example: trying to be on two dates at once always ends with you forgetting to take off a hat, thus tipping the date off that “something funny is going on.” Always remember that.)
Unfortunately, this often means I have to do stuff.
I hate doing stuff. I would prefer to do nothing. If I had the choice of a vacation all around the world and staying home, I would take the vacation, but only because I would assume that the hotel I stayed in would allow me to do nothing while watching cable.
Doing stuff takes a lot of time and energy I just don’t have. Sure, doing nothing would essentially strip my life of all purpose and meaning, but I would never have to, for instance, help someone move furniture. I feel like that would be a huge win for me.
Unfortunately, as we’ve discussed, family is important. This thought seems to trump my lack of interest in doing things.
It was late in the evening last week when my phone rang. After working all day, it took all of my strength to answer the phone. Well, not really strength. It took all of my will to stop being lazy long enough to pick the phone up is a more accurate statement.
“Hello?” I said.
“Oh, hi. This is Grandmother.”
For those who have not been initiated into my family (That would be everyone reading this, minus my wife. Let’s be honest, though. She isn’t reading this anyway.) Grandmother is my grandmother-in-law. She is a delightful lady who is much more in tune with the modern world than many people her age. Also, in an unrelated note, I have heard her say the word “Bling” multiple times. I guess that would make her the Lil’ Wayne of older white ladies.
It is a rare event for her to call me, so I was caught a bit off guard. The next question would leave me even more confused.
“If the light is on on the TV downstairs, is it on?”
Well, I had no idea what that meant. “What light is it?”
“It’s blue,” she replied, “But when I push the power button, the oval light comes on.”
Grandmother’s house was apparently filled with blue and oval lights. I wondered if there was a UFO in her basement or perhaps robots were attacking. Never having been this confused in my life, I vowed to come over the next day and look at the situation.
Under the light of day, we were able to determine that, just like she said, lights were going nuts. Her cable box had every light lit up. It was like a small and very terrible Christmas tree. With the TV on, all that appeared was a red X. This meant one thing.
Because of my value of family, I would be forced to call the cable company.
I won’t tell you which cable company it was. I have scrambled the letters of the name, though, to allow you a chance to guess the company. Ready?
(So no one feels left out, the answer was AT&T. Don’t feel bad if you couldn’t figure it out. It was a tough one.)
In my life, I have called this particular company a number of times. Coincidentally, those are the only times in my life where I could relate to crazy, homicidal maniacs. First, you must speak to their frustrating robot man say things like, “Have you made sure that the device is plugged in?” all the while reassuring me that someone would “be with momentarily.”
Finally, a real person came on the phone. At least, I think it was a real person.
“Thank you for calling AT&T,” she whispered inaudibly.
“What?” I asked, unsure if I was talking to a person or hearing a nearby fly buzz.
“How can I help you today?”
“I have no idea what you are saying.”
“I’m sorry,” she said. “Is this better?”
“Yes. Thank you.”
“Not a problem, sir. Now what can I do for you today?”
For the next 30 minutes, I couldn’t move or breathe. Even the slightest sound would make it impossible to hear the lady on the other end. Every other sentence, I would be forced to let out a confused and slightly irritated, “What?!” I’m sure that she thought she was talking to the biggest idiot of all time. What kind of moron doesn’t understand what unplug the device means?
Finally, after experiencing enough frustration for a lifetime, we reached an agreement.
“Sir, it looks like your device is not working. We will send you out a new one,” she said.
“Sounds great,” I replied, eager to get off the phone and even more eager to be able to move and breathe freely again. I immediately hung up the phone, moved so as to alleviate the cramp that had begun to attack my leg, then gave the good news to Grandmother.
She was happy to have it taken care of. She said thanks, not that she had to. After all, she is family.
Yes, family can get you into obnoxious situations. You can spend all day listening to the quietest human being on the planet give you instructions or worse.
You have no choice, though. They are your family. They would do the same for you, and that’s the way it works. It’s a give and take situation.
After all, as every single wise old person on a sitcom has ever said, “You only have one family.”