The Evil Side of Television
by Joe Lavin
This is the story of my nineteen inch television and how I tried to
ship it from California to Massachusetts. Brace yourself. It is not a
happy story. I tell this story so that others may learn from my
mistake. Never -- I repeat -- never try to ship a nineteen inch
Problem #1 -- I wake up that day and realize I need a box. That's no
problem at all, I think. I head to the Box Depot, a store that
features not only many boxes but also a rodent-like dog who insists on
attacking my friend repeatedly. Suffice it to say that their slogan
seems to be, "Sparky!!!! No bite!" I eventually get a twenty-four inch
cube. My friend eventually gets out alive. I also buy packing supplies
-- $9 worth of little white peanuts or, as they soon will be called,
little white minions of Satan.
Problem #2 -- At first, it looks like there won't be a second problem
and that everyone in the world will live happily ever after. I put
the television in the box, drop in hundreds of the little minions,
seal it up, and bring it to my car. All runs smoothly until . . .
Well, the box doesn't fit in the car. I understand that it doesn't fit
in the trunk. As I look at the trunk, I realize I could never get away
with murder because I wouldn't be able to fit the body in the trunk.
Practically nothing fits in the trunk, but somehow I just can't
believe that the box won't fit in the back seat. I realize that my
unscientific measurement of the car door earlier in the day really
should have been far more scientific.
Problem #3 -- I call a few shipping companies to see if they'll pick
it up. However, the shipping fees they want to charge are slightly
more than the value of the television, which is several years old and
often has to be unplugged to be turned off.
Luckily, without the box, the television will fit in the back seat.
Our new plan is to pack it outside the UPS building. We remove the
television from the box and put it in the back seat, which of course
causes millions of the little white minions of Satan to go flying onto
the ground. It takes about fifteen miserable minutes to pick up the $9
of white things. Eventually, we collect them all, fold up the box,
throw it in with the television, and are on the road ready for . . .
Problem #4 -- UPS is in the ghetto. Well, not exactly. There are worse
sections of Los Angeles, but there are so many more that are nicer. My
computer is also in the car, and I grit my teeth as I drive my most
valuable possessions through this neighborhood. Red lights last for
Problem #5 -- Can you believe it? I am running out of the god damn
white things. Initially, I had more than I could comprehend, but
somehow many have escaped through the time-space continuum into a
parallel white things universe. After we pack the television in the
parking lot, there is now a gaping space at the top of the box.
UPS closes in a few minutes, and I have to leave the next day. I must
do something. I search frantically through my car for stuff to put in
the box so that the television won't rattle. I find some towels. I
find a plastic container of water. I empty what's left of the
container and throw it in the box along with the towels. I feel like a
damn fool, but the box really doesn't look that bad. At least, that's
what I keep telling myself. It almost looks like everything might work
out until of course I come across . . .
Problem #6 -- UPS Guy: "I see this isn't the original box."
UPS Guy: "I have to open it."
UPS Guy: "What?"
Me: "I mean, you don't really need to do that. I mean, it's fine the
way it is. Um, right?"
UPS Guy: "I'm sorry. I have to see if it's packed properly."
Me: "No, please!"
That, of course, is the end. The first thing he sees is the empty
water container. A few drops of water drip out as he picks it up.
"It has to be in its original box or packed professionally." He says.
"But it's --" Well, it hasn't been packed professionally, and I know
it. Frankly, being called a mere amateur in the field of packing
stings. I explain how I had been told by UPS that I didn't need the
original box, but he doesn't care. He just shrugs and tells me that
he can't take the box.
It would be one thing if I could blame him for being rude or nasty,
but I can't. He is perfectly nice and listens patiently as I vent my
anger. He nods frequently and even apologizes occasionally. He seems
to be a wonderful person. I hate him. I am not thinking rationally.
Just to be a pain in the ass, I insist that he seal the box up again.
I return to my car and of course . . .
Problem #7 -- Well, the box still doesn't fit in my car. So there I am
with my wonderfully patient friend in this dark, lousy neighborhood,
looking at a giant box that won't fit in my car. That's when I decide
just to leave the stupid television in the parking lot and drive away.
Well, that would be the perfect ending, but I don't have quite enough
guts to do that. Instead, we unseal the box, take the television out,
and put it in the back seat. And of course, the white minions of Satan
go flying all over the UPS parking lot. Somehow, all the ones I lost
before mysteriously reappear. A few hundred more from that parallel
universe seem to have joined them. I'd like to leave them there, but a
security guard is giving me a dirty look. And so we spend the next ten
minutes again picking up white things off the ground and throwing them
into my trunk.
There is a happy ending, sort of. The television eventually made it to
Massachusetts. On my drive across country, I put it in the back seat
and drove it through San Francisco, Las Vegas, Denver, Kansas City,
St. Louis, Chicago, Columbus, Harrisburg, and into New England.
Here's the strange part. Remember how I said the television wouldn't
always turn off. Well, now that it's been loaded in and out of my car
dozens of times, carried up the steps of several hotels, driven across
the bumps of fourteen states, and cursed at more times than I can
remember, it no longer has this problem. Yes, now that I hate my
television and never want to see it ever again, it works just
Copyright 1998 by Joe Lavin