Someone Should Explain This to Me

NSFW for language

Here’s the Deal

I need someone to explain something for me.  Having an explanation, it’s not that I would sleep better at night, but it would be something I could finally cross off the list of mysteries I carry around using up brain space I could use for other things. Things like where the hell I put that box of packing tape I bought last year. 

I put that box, six rolls less one, you know the kind: inch and a half wide, clear, fits on the spool thingy in the dispenser with a pistol grip and a serrated cutting edge.  When I brought the tape home, that old computer paper box I keep other packing materials in was full, so I put the new tape on a shelf or in another box, or in a drawer in the kitchen or in the garage.  At the time, I know I thought to myself, that’s a good place, a logical place for the tape, and even if I forget it, it will be easy to figure out.  I know this, because I do this all the time.  No, not all the time, but often enough to know that when I can’t find something, that’s exactly what I did.  It would be easy enough to find that “good place.” 

All I have to do is go out and buy another box of packing tape dispenser refills.  Won’t do to buy a single roll.  No, it’ll have to be another box, so then I will have more tape than I will ever use, more than my son will ever use, and his son too, as certainly that tape will become part of my legacy.  And then what?  It won’t fit in the box for other packing materials, so I’ll think of a logical place to put it.  Either that place will be the same place I stored the original box, or I’ll discover the original box when I store the new box.  Then I’ll have two boxes of replacement tape rolls I can’t find.  I dunno.  I’ve been in this house long enough, it could be three boxes, five remaining replacement rolls each.

The missing tape rolls is not the question bugging me.  Yeah, it does, but not like the particular question I have in mind.  Let me put down a little groundwork here, so when I finally put the question to you, my not understanding will be clear. 

This is the twenty-first century.  Since I was a kid radios have been getting smaller and smaller and all the while more powerful and feature-packed.  I thought it was “neat” when I got an AM radio that ran on batteries.  The batteries only lasted two Ricky Nelson songs and then you were bummed until you got the coins for new batteries.  The batteries, okay, you’re as old as me and you remember, the first batteries were the square nine-volt ones.  Not cheap.  Not rechargeable.  This radio, if I recall, would have been twice the size of a pack of cigarettes. 

Then, radios got smaller.  And cheaper.  Nine ninety-five plus tax.  About the size of a pack of cigarettes. Batteries lasted longer.  The FM band was available. Really slick radios also got shortwave or the weather frequencies.  Over the years, portable radios kept getting smaller.  Batteries lasted longer and longer; they became “rechargeable.”  Of course, silly consumer, if you wanted “bigger,” you could get it – the “boombox,” requiring a line of batteries capable of running Starship Enterprise to Omicron Fifty-two and back if you didn’t drain them using the transporter.  Oh, and prices got proportionately, if not geometrically smaller.

Today, folks, especially the younger ones, don’t really listen to “radio.”  They have devices capable of FM, AM, SW, television, telephone conversations, and “always-on internet.”  How big are these devices?  Smaller than a breadbox.  Smaller than a pack of cigarettes.  If you’re a technogeek and have to have the latest, you can get all this in a fat ballpoint pen – a pen that will still write (in three colors, red, blue and puce) take pictures and run on rechargeable batteries that most people never in their lives even see, let alone replace.  These little doobers will drive a set of studio headphones. Prices?  Still way down, but if you have to have the model that also gives heated Swedish massage, you can expect a hefty price-tag.  But I maintain, given the features, and incidentally, the dependability of the devices, cheap.  Let me spell that for you: C-H-E-A-P.

Okay.  Are you ready?  Last week I got a special offer in the mail, with a coupon guaranteeing me a savings of nine-hundred, eighty-five dollars and twenty-one cents on my purchase.  Let me write that in numbers: $985.21.  I cannot explain the odd number; that’s what it was.  Maybe to get my attention. Was this coupon for an automobile?  A new pickup truck?  A college degree?  Lifetime porn site membership? A year’s supply of rib eye steak?

No sir.  This coupon was redeemable when I purchased a set of hearing aids.  So I immediately think to myself: Okay, given a hearing aid should run about $19.99, plus tax, then we’re looking at $39.98, still plus tax.  I stand to get damned near nine-hundred and fifty bucks back.  Hell, even if I wasn’t going deaf, I’d get myself two of these boogers just for the cash back.

Someone inside my head ruined it for me:  No. Here’s the deal: At best, at absolute best, they are marking down twenty-five percent.  Maybe fifty percent.  That means after the coupon, you’re gonna fork over a thou maybe as much as three.

Shit.

We have technology that can put everything but a fire extinguisher inside a hollowed-out ballpoint pen barrel for $289.99.  Explain to me how two little electronic gadgets that can’t even tune-in WKRP in Cincinnati are gonna cost that kind of serious cash.  Dick Tracy technology is out-of-date; we have walking stereo systems capable of holding hundreds of one’s favorite tunes; these plug into earpieces with great fidelity and ample volume.  Nuts!  Some don’t even ‘plug in.’  They’re ‘wireless.’  The air of the world is full of wireless devices talking to one another, sharing stock quotes and the latest Wormy Smashcheeks tune.  Maybe even chuckling amongst themselves over our dependence on them.  Enough radio waves in the air we live in a microwave; one day we’ll hear a ‘ding’ and we’ll be ready to eat.  Outside price for one of these latest-and-greatest devices, less the collection of musical pieces, okay, maybe six-hundred bucks.

I’m listening.  Go ahead.  Explain.  Oh, the “audiologist’s” fees you suggest. 

Bullshit.  I can go visit my doctor and get away for two-hundred bucks.  He can tell me what I need in the way of “aid” for my hearing.  He won’t though, because he’s afraid to; he’d want me to see five or six other doctors to spread culpability around in case my problem wasn’t that I can’t hear but that my bladder is clogged, putting pressure on the auditory nerves routed from my knees, around my ass, through my abdominal cavity to my ears.  

These audiologist people aren’t doctors.  They aren’t dentists.  Hell, they aren’t even veterinarians.  Don’t give me any crap about “more schooling than a PhD.”  Won’t fly. Though I understand in some states’ audiologists are required to have a PhD.  Not my fault.  Since all they can fix is my ability to hear, I don’t think their devices are worth two thousand each. And they don’t’ fix my hearing, they just give me a crutch, a tiny little amplifier.   After I fork over, and walk away, I’m still going deaf.  My ears are still broke.

“Oh,” you say, “accurately testing to determine which of multitudes of instruments is right for me requires skill and each instrument then must be ‘tailored’ to my needs.”  I like the word: bullshit.”  First, the people running the tests are the same un-doctors I just talked about.  Second, any first grader knows if someone can’t hear you, or is blind, talk louder.  Any second grader knows if you look right at the person you’re talking to, the sound electricalicity is pointed directly at your ears. 

As an aside, let me explain: If I can’t hear someone and they honor my wishes and speak (a) louder or (b) directly to me, I can hear them just faggot-fine, thank you.  Ergo, it is a matter of amplification.  To wit, an AM or FM radio that snags not radio waves but environmental noise and broadcasts it to the headphones – which is, after all, the business end of any “hearing aid” – is an amplifier, selective or not.

I see it coming – there are costs involved in providing the instrument giving the correct amplification.  Listen carefully, you’re going to learn to like this word too.  Bullshit.  The gadgets they test your hearing with are capable of all manner of volume increase and “noise” reduction or blocking.  Fine.  On the remote control of your 108 inch plasma television, you have a button to do what?  Right!  Volume.  Volume up.  Volume down.  Rocket science.  Make the little earplugs respond to three signals. 

First, volume.  I believe we’ve pretty well covered that.  If you think otherwise, you’re not paying attention.  Second, frequency blocking.  Simple enough: I don’t want to hear the bass of the freight train three blocks over; or I don’t like the tenor whine of the new car salesman’s voice; or if the California girl screeches, “You know, really,” one more time through her nose I’ll be up on assault charges – eight settings should handle it.

I said three signals, didn’t I?   On/off.  There are times, and I’ll admit these times occur with greater frequency as I get older, when not hearing is better than hearing.  Three simple adjustments.  The controls could even be added to my cell phone/camera/PDA/music-minder/anywhere internet connection/Swedish massager.

$19.95 for the pair.  ‘Sounds’ about right.  Are you listening Apple?  Sony?  Motorola?  Samsung?

© S P Wilcenski 2020

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