Unintended Consequences of a Surprise Gift

“Man”, I thought, as Aragorn’s sword pierced the flesh of yet another evil grotesque Orc, “this movie is amazing! I need a DVD player so I can watch the complete trilogy over and over.”

An admitted slacker when it comes to gift-giving, every year I eye the holiday season with more than my usual lack of enthusiasm. Somehow the prospect of circling mall parking slots looking for that elusive space and digging my elbow into another shopper’s ribs to get a better view of the merchandise doesn’t seem very appealing. End result is that even my good friends rarely end up receiving any gift at all. Well, I guess that’s why they’re my good friends – they stayed and somehow manage to put up with my bizarre anti-social behavior .

This past holiday season, I was determined to deter any well-meaning friends from spending their hard-earned money on me and sent out an email in advance, urging them to re-channel their $$ to any of my favorite charities. So things were going along swimmingly, and I thought everyone had complied with my “orders”, and then suddenly on New Year’s Day – imagine my total unfeigned surprise when A. handed me a brand-new silver karaoke/DVD player combo! Apparently, she had taken pity on me for being so technology-backwards, and to relieve me from having the dubious honor of being the only techie in the tri-state area who didn’t possess one. Actually, I prefer to think that I must’ve been such a great friend to her in so many ways to merit such a gift, but that’s just me.

Excitedly, I rushed home, unpacked the player from the box, and set about trying to hook it up to my TV. Instruction manual (which we all love to read) was clear enough, if somewhat skimpy on the detailed instructions. Just had to connect the yellow head at one end of the wires to the yellow-colored slot of the DVD player, and the other yellow head to the similarly yellow-colored slot at the back of the TV. Pretty idiot-proof huh? Only problem was that upon pressing “Play”, no picture was coming out on the tube! Oh no! Frustrated at this development, I repeatedly re-read the instructions, plugged and unplugged connections at both ends, and basically questioned my sanity and IQ level.

Was just about ready to hurl the DVD player against the wall when I decided to give it a rest and ask the more knowledgeable guys at work. Predictably enough, upon recounting my woes to M. he was derisive and scornful. “You’re a disgrace to the IT profession! You’re probably the dumbest guy around, are you sure you know how to use a computer?!” – these were some of the choice words he had, obviously relishing my failure to complete this basic task. Finally, he shared the secret that had eluded me – I had set up the player correctly, but only had to “tell” the TV to look at the port the DVD was connected to, and this was accomplished through one of the buttons on the remote. Amazingly simple, huh? Darned instruction manual didn’t say anything about this last step! (“Yeah right, moron” – M.).

So finally, FINALLY! After all these years, am enjoying the wonders of this new technology – uh, how do you go to a specific chapter again?!

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