Cable TV

My grandma (mom’s mom) was an awesome grandma who loved me and the Cubs very much.  Back when I was a kid, many people just used antennas to get cable channels.  There were three main channels that you could get ABC, NBC, and CBS.  If you were lucky on a clear day you might get a fuzzy picture of another channel, but for the most part, it was just those three channels.

My parents at some point when I was young decided to get cable.  It was the thing to have because you could get 12 channels with cable and the channels were so clear.  Later on, cable companies added cable boxes which started the influx of more channels until we are where we are today with way too many channels.

My parents worked different shifts, so that for the most part one was home with me at all times.  A really good friend of the family used to come over for the hour between when one had to go to work and the other was one their way home.  My dad worked nights.

Once he was home and the friend of the family had left, I was taught how to watch my shows on TV.  There was no remote control, so I learned to turn the dial to specific channels. 🙂  My shows were Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.  This gave my dad some time to get some rest while I watched and played quietly.  This is something that many parents today probably couldn’t do, but my dad could because I never bothered anything other than my own toys.

At some point, my dad was switched to days and both of my parents worked the same shift.  I was in early grade school at this point and my parents had to find someone to watch me during the summers.  My grandmother was chosen and one of the few my mother trusted with me.  She was a Tupperware salesperson (and a really good one at that time), and she knew that I wouldn’t bother anyone at the parties she had to host, so she agreed.  Besides when I was older I was free labor to help load and unload the car. 😉

In the mornings, I was taken to grandmas and dropped off.  There was only one problem…they didn’t have cable.  I couldn’t watch my shows.  Before the people who say kids shouldn’t watch too much TV, at the time, those two shows were my TV.  I only watched these two shows during the day.  The rest of the time I played outside/inside or I helped grandma out.

Now my grandma was an avid Cubs fan.  She listened to every game on the radio.  Listening to the radio just wasn’t the same as watching it on TV.  She knew that my grandpa couldn’t stand to see me cry.  People tell me that I would get big ol’ crocodile tears in my eyes, but wouldn’t make a sound while crying, and it just about broke their hearts to see any tears from me.

One day, while grandpa was at work, grandma asked me if I wanted cable at their house.  Of course I said yes.  She told me that when he gets home that I needed to crawl up in his lap and ask for cable TV.  When he told me no, I was to start crying and tell him that I couldn’t watch my shows and I really wanted to.  She said that will get cable TV for you to watch your shows and for me to watch the Cubs.  Grandma was adamant that I had to be the one to do it and that she couldn’t ask for me.

Now some might say that this is a bad habit to start with a little kid, and I’m not real sure if grandma thought I’d go through with her plan or not.  I was a really shy kid, so she probably figured that I would back out.  But we made a deal, so in my young mind I couldn’t back out.  Plus I wasn’t just doing this for myself; I was doing it for grandma, so that she could watch the Cubs.

Grandpa finally came home from work and gave me the gum from his lunchbox.  Grandpa always bought a pack of gum from the vending machine at work.  This was back when it only cost a quarter for 5 sticks of gum.  Whatever gum was leftover at the end of the day was mine.  I think he bought the pack everyday for me.  Sometimes there would be 3 sticks and sometimes, he never even touched it.  It was just something little that he could give me, and he knew I would light up with happiness that he had thought of me.

I took his lunchbox from him and into grandma, so she could clean it out and get it ready for the next day.  Grandma looked at me and motioned to the living room with a wink.  I nervously turned around and quietly went into the living room.

Grandpa was in his chair cooling off.  So, I crawled up onto his lap.  By this time, I was so nervous about what I was to do, that I already had tears streaming down my face.  I had never manipulated anyone in my life to get what I wanted.  This was my first time, and I was scared that I would get into trouble.  Even knowing that grandma would come to my rescue couldn’t stop my tears.

Grandpa scooped me up and asked why I was crying.  I said in a very garbled voice “I <sniff> ca <sniff> <sniff> n’t <sniff> wa <sniff> <sniff> tch <sniff> <sniff> my <sniff> s <sniff> <sniff> ho <sniff> ws <sniff> <sniff> be <sniff> ca <sniff> <sniff> ca <sniff> use <sniff> <sniff> you <sniff> <sniff>  do <sniff> n’t <sniff> <sniff> ha <sniff> ve <sniff><sniff>  CA <sniff> BLE <sniff> <sniff>”  Of course my grandfather couldn’t understand me.  He asked me again which just made it worse because I was worried this meant he was onto me.  Finally grandpa hollered into the kitchen “What’s wrong with this baby? She’s crying and I can’t understand what’s wrong!”

My grandma came in and said “She’s upset because she couldn’t watch her shows today or any other day.”  Grandpa replied with “Her shows? She has shows?” An exasperated grandma said, “Yes, her shows: Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.  They are on cable and she can’t watch them here because we don’t have cable.  She’s upset because she found out that she can’t watch them all summer because we don’t have CABLE.” She really stressed the word cable.

Grandpa looked at me and asked if that was why I was crying.  I nodded my head while looking at him with the crocodile tears welling up in my eyes.  It’s the last part that put him over the edge.  He gave me a big hug and said, “It’ll be ok.  Grandpa will fix it. How much is cable?”  Now if he were thinking, he’d realize that grandma answered a little too quickly.  He pulled the money out of his pocket and told grandma to go down to the cable company tomorrow and get the cable installed for this baby.

My tears turned into a big smile!  It worked!  My grandma just winked at me and said to grandpa, “Whatever you say.  You know you spoil that child too much!”  🙂 I spent the rest of the afternoon on grandpa’s lap.  When I went to leave, my grandma gave me a big hug and told me that I did great.

And that my friend is how my grandparents got cable.  My aunt who was still living there at the time was livid.  She had been trying to get them to get cable for a long time, and all it took was little ol’ me to cry and get what I wanted.

My grandmother and I had an agreement.  I got to watch what I wanted in the mornings and she got to watch the Cubs in the afternoon.  Back then all games were day games, so I became a huge Cubs fan growing up.  I usually watched the game with her, but some of the time, I did 50-50 between watching the game and playing outside.  In the mornings, I usually only watched a couple of hours of TV (sometimes while helping her bag Tupperware) before heading outside; unless it was raining of course. 🙂

Today my grandfather tells me that I owe him for the years of the cable that he has had to pay for.  At some point, someone told him about grandma’s scheme.  Of course, he came to enjoy watching cable and decided to keep it even after he found out.  You just never know what you want until you have it. 🙂