The other day I heard our handyman (who's been part of our family for 25 years) ask my husband if he got rid of the TV.
Since not having a television was a condition of marriage my then-future husband imposed, I wondered what he could possibly be talking about.
Turns out that somebody had dumped a large analog TV alongside the road in a wooded area of our community. Apparently, purchasing an adapter for Friday's digital switch-over wasn't worth it. My husband, the litter-buster for our town (he patrols the streets with "gopher picker-upper in hand) saw the pitched cathode ray tube and asked our guy to dispose of it--but doing so would cost us $30 or so. So my husband took the set and pitched it in a big dumpster.
Unless there are free collection points provided on Friday and thereafter, you can bet lots of dumpsters will be filled with the TVs people are now required to abandon. It's true that those with cable or satellite service don't need a converter and so may not scotch their old sets. And it's also likely that most people already replaced their old tubes for nice flat-screen models. But I bet there are plenty of folks with old TVs lurking in their closets who now feel there's no reason to store them "just in case."
In fact, here's a confession. We have a TV in the closet. It's the little 10-inch TV I owned when I met my husband more than a quarter-century ago. We used to pull it out very rarely, only on election night, when my husband had to have returns as they came in. Lately, we go online instead. The TV collects dust. A candidate for the dumpster?
I suppose the nation does have to go digital, but I scoff at the $650 million the government has allocated for $40 coupons so folks only have to pay $20 for a converter box. If we have to switch, then switch. Having a TV isn't an entitlement. You won't die if you don't see Desperate Housewives. I heard on the radio that 3 million people in the US cling to their unconverted analog TVs and will experience befuddlement when, on Friday, their TVs don't work. Why is this worthy of worry? A taxpayer-funded necessity?
I have survived 24 years of marriage without a TV. I've never seen The Cosby Show or Friends. All the cultural phenomena that bind Americans through the tube marched by. And I seem to function.
However, if, come Friday or later this year, I stub my toe on a TV as I walk through our local forest, I won't be so happy. Why can't somebody graciously take all those old boob tubes and extract the parts for recycling? Perhaps because in this age of planned obsolescence, it's more expensive to pay somebody to take it apart than the innards are worth.
I didn't care much for the film Wall-E, but if we abandon the planet due to too much litter, you can be sure that old TVs (and washers, computer monitors, desktop CPUs and car hulks) will be forming the base of the garbage mountain.