remote controlYou know how I’m always doing monumentally stupid things?

Well, pull up a chair and let’s talk about last weekend.

One of my TV remote controls has a label stuck to the back of it. The label gradually began peeling away and left glue behind that stuck to my fingers as I channel surfed.

Of course, this annoyance had to be solved immediately and without forethought.

For the record, we have a second remote that did the same thing, one where I successfully removed the sticky residue by scrubbing it with a damp SOS pad. All smooth. No glue. Life was happy.

But for this remote, and for reasons unknown, I decided to scrub it directly under a stream of water. Water seeped into the bowels of the remote, which of course rendered it useless.


I cursed my stupidity, removed the batteries and pointed a hair dryer at it for five minutes. This didn’t help, so I gave up and set it on a windowsill to let a breeze run over it all night.

Twenty four hours later, I picked it up and noticed that pressing some buttons illuminated them and I thought “Eureka! It’s dry!”


Pointing it at the TV and pressing buttons resulted in nothing. It was still working in a broken kind of way.

It occurred to me that since I’d given my remote a bubble bath, I might need to reprogram it to work again with my DVR and TV.

Enter “Remote Control Manual for Synergy V.” Now just go look at that thing. It’s like 40 pages long and I was already tired and ready for bed.

But I had a manual and a mission and so I set out to fix this bastard.

According to the Manual from Hell, you have to enter certain codes for your model of DVR and TV. They give you several possible codes and if one doesn’t work, you try another until you get a match.

Within minutes, I successfully reprogrammed the DVR, the TV and the audio, which meant I could channel surf again.

However, I still couldn’t call up the list of recorded shows. I also couldn’t record anything new.

And so I did what stupid people do and go all Angry Birds on the buttons, press something really wrong and now we have no joy on the TV.

Only a message that reads “No Signal.”

Son. Of. A. Bitch.

I was so close, yet in a moment of keypad frenzy, I ruined all the progress I’d made.

And so I was left with the option no one wants. Ever.

I was going to have to call RCN cable tech support.

I dial, make my way through a maze of options and then hear something that makes me cry.

“All of our operators are busy. Your approximate wait is 20 minutes.”

I listen to horrible little RCN jingles and advertisements for services I don’t want for what feels like an eternity.

Eventually a nice man gets on the line and I tell him how dumb I was by cleaning an electronic device with actual liquid and would he kindly save me from myself.

Our goal was to get a signal to the TV and he sends reset instructions to my DVR, but this does nothing because the problem isn’t with the DVR.

It’s with the TV itself.

He has me walk over to the TV and look for a menu with Input on it somewhere. I start pressing buttons haphazardly and he asks me to slow down and tell him what’s going on.

I work in tech support and I’m surprised at how spastic and uncooperative I’ve become. Chillax, Kathy!

And so I slow down.

I press Menu and see Input listed as an option. But there’s no “Set” or “Enter” button that lets me lock anything in.

Tech Guy doesn’t know what to tell me because he can’t see what I’m seeing and I just know I’m explaining things to him like a three-year-old.

Button not go isn’t work what the can’t set help me waaaaahhhh!

Meanwhile, my husband is calling me from my cell phone and keeps beeping into the call. There’s no way I’m answering it.

I’m not about to risk a hang-up on Tech Support Guy, who is right now the most important man in my life.

I email my sister and tell her to call Dave and ask that he stop calling me, as I’m in tech support hell.

She writes back and says she couldn’t reach him and left a message.

I email her again. He’s not going to listen to voice mail! It’s my phone! Call him again until you reach him!!! He keeps beeping in!!!

Tech Support Guy is still mystified why I’m getting no signal on the TV, but I’m happy now that the incessant Dave beeping has finally stopped.

I return to the set and start pressing buttons again, but this time I realize that if I choose HDMI-1 and wait a beat, then it sets to that option.

A football game appears on the screen. Yippee!

I run through all the resets again on the remote, codes galore, but then I surf and realize I have no HD channels.

I report this new misery to Tech Guy and he sends another reset to the DVR. At once, all my pre-recorded shows display, I can record new shows again and all the HD channels are back.


We share some laughs and I thank him profusely. I ask him if he’s close by and if he is, I’d like to come over and give him a hug. He is duly creeped out.

As we prepare to end the call, I ask him if he could please fix something that bugs me in the Manual from Hell.

“What’s wrong with it?” he asks.

“Well, every place where there should be an “its” is spelled wrong. There’s an apostrophe where it doesn’t belong,” I report. “It’s full of wrong “its”!”

Dead. Silence.

“Hello?” I say.

“Uh. Yeah, well, um. The people from the remote control company wrote that manual, and they just gave it to us to post. We can’t fix it,” he replies.

I reluctantly accept the fate of the manual. I’m sad that it will remain forever incorrect, but then I count my blessings because I have a TV signal and all systems are go. Gotta pick your battles, right?

Tech Support Guy prepares to jettison me off this phone call so he can tell all his co-workers about this stupid woman who washed her remote control and who also happens to be a Grammar Nazi.

You just don’t get calls like that every day, and if you’re in tech support, nor do you want to.

Stumble it!