AMERICA: Yeah, hi. I bought this TV here about two years ago and I’d like to return it.

BEST BUY CLERK: Oh, yeah. I remember you. You loved this TV. What happened? Is it broken?

AMERICA: Broken? Well, I’m not sure. It’s just that … hmm. How do I explain?

BEST BUY CLERK: Well, what’s the problem?

AMERICA: Well, I’ve heard there are other TVs? Like a smart TV that knows when your shows are on and can record them for you? One that can be programmed with parental controls and specifications.

BEST BUY CLERK: Yeah, sure, but you said you didn’t want a smart TV. I remember. I tried to sell you that. But you said it was “haughty.” That it gave you too much information—like it couldn’t make up its mind. You wanted a “simple” TV that you could relate to.

AMERICA: Yeah, I know … but this TV. I mean, sometimes I’ll put it on a channel and it just stays there. No matter what. No matter how bad the channel is or how much I want something different. I even changed the batteries in the remote control and banged on the side of the set, but nothing works. It’s like it’s ignoring me.

BEST BUY CLERK: And that’s a problem?

AMERICA: Well, yeah.

BEST BUY CLERK: But I thought you liked that. I remember. You were all like, “I like a TV that knows what it wants.”

AMERICA: Well, yeah, that’s true. And don’t get me wrong. Sometimes I like what’s on. I’m a very spiritual person, so sometimes I like the religious programming, but that can’t be all there is.

BEST BUY CLERK: But that’s why you bought the set. We watched The 700 Club together right in this showroom. I pointed out that all these other TVs had that channel, too—they just don’t show it all the time. And you said you weren’t sure you could trust a TV that didn’t show it all the time.

AMERICA: Yeah, I remember … Well, it gets confused.


AMERICA: Yeah, like sometimes—and this is going to sound crazy—but sometimes I’ll tune in to one show and it will show me another.

BEST BUY CLERK: What do you mean?

AMERICA: Well, like the whole fall schedule. Supposedly, there are options out there. I’ve been reading about all these new shows in my local paper, but I can’t watch them. I’ll ask for Heroes and suddenly I’m watching 24 again. Just like that. It switches one thing for another like I’m not going to notice the difference.

BEST BUY CLERK: How long has it been doing that?

AMERICA: Well, in truth, probably from the beginning, but I didn’t notice at first. I’m a pretty big 24 fan. And, also, I only just started reading the newspapers. They’re mostly opinion, you know.

BEST BUY CLERK: Yeah, but, you see, nothing’s really changed. Your TV’s not broken. This is exactly what you wanted. You just changed your mind. I’m sorry, you can’t just—

AMERICA: Oh, I know! It uses way too much energy. My utility bills are through the roof! Wasn’t there some warranty that this TV would keep those costs down?

BEST BUY CLERK: No. Not in the warranty. It was in the advertising. They’re not the same thing. TVs use energy. That’s just the deal.

AMERICA: So there’s nothing we can do?

BEST BUY CLERK: Sorry. Nothing now. There was talk of building more-efficient TVs. Ones that are better for the environment. That would free us from our reliance on our enemies’ resources. Technology that might even provide a new source of revenue for America and create jobs for its people. And then we …

AMERICA: Whoa, whoa. Easy. You’re giving me a headache with all that.

BEST BUY CLERK: Yeah, that’s what you said in 2000.


BEST BUY CLERK: Yeah. You take care, now. But mark your calendar. Big sale coming in ’08.