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Cable TV, the Circus and the Crap
By Gloria Diaz
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Fort Wayne Reader
Iím one of the few people I know who donít have cable. One of my managers at work asked me why I donít have cable, and I said it was because I could either eat out, or watch TV. My big vice is eating out. I donít like to cook, even though what I produce usually tastes really good. I enjoy the offerings of cable, but the irony is, when Iím making enough money to feel like I can afford cable, I donít have time to watch it. If I feel the need to have the television on to break the silence of the house, I pop in a DVD or videotape. I got a combination DVD/VCR for Christmas one year, and itís one of the best things I own. With deals galore on DVDs and especially VHS tapes, I figure Iím saving at least $500 a year by not having cable.
Donít get me wrong, I have my favorite cable channels. When my mom was still living, we had cable. We scheduled our days around the television. We had our morning shows, afternoon shows, and the Nick at Nite/TV Land marathon. I spent the last months of her life watching television shows with her and commenting on the news or an especially good episode of The Cosby Show.
But the only time I watch cable is when I visit someone who has it. The offerings are usually fascinating. However, Iím glad I donít have to pay for it.
Another thing that floors me is that people pay good money for fancy coffee. I recently tried some mocha coffee from McDonaldís new ďMcCafeĒ menu. It was good, but itís not something Iím going to buy every day. Iíve made some stupid financial mistakes for which I will pay for a long, long time, but Iíve tried to cut back on impulse spending. That means avoiding Target, which I dearly love, but is deadly on my pocketbook. Iíve tried taking my lunch to work and try not to have any cash whatsoever in my purse, so when I go to the break room, I am not tempted by any of the snack offerings there. I try and put off purchases. Just today, I had lunch (cheaper than usual, because I went for some lower-priced things) but afterward, I was just so tired that instead of going to the health supplement store and getting groceries, I decided to go home. I had bought enough dog food to last a couple days, so Daphne wouldnít starve.
One of my friends pointed out that if the financial crisis turns into a depression, it will probably be the first one where everyone has a roof over their head. He forgot to include a big-screen television, an iPod, a computer and at least one game system. Iím not sure what category of ďpoorĒ I fall into. I own my own house (albeit only half, as mom left the other half to my brother) yet I donít have cable. I own two cars, both of them are at least 14 years old or more, and only one of them runs. I do have plenty of debt though. Iíve tried to make saving money a fun thing, a challenge. Iíd like to try investing in the stock market again, but based on what happened the last time, if I invest again, the market will crash. NASDAQ went into the toilet the day after the first time I bought stock.
At work, I heard someone talk about a small town facing a shortage of pet food because people were eating that instead of human food. I canít remember if the town was in Indiana or Ohio, but it reminded me of a Ďzine editor who tried cat food drenched in mustard as a cheap substitute for tuna. I remember him writing that at one-third the price of tuna, he gave the cat food ďtwo paws up.Ē
I found out the Speedway Flea Market reopened and I had a chance to check it out a few days ago. I remember going there on the weekends as a teenager. I remember one booth that sold books on the honor system. There was a little money box attached to one of the bookcases. The booth was basically bookcases placed together, with each section marked, and I spent lots of time browsing there. On my visit, the booths were different, but it was nice to see the variety of stuff available. I looked at a Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey program from 1976, the year I won a contest sponsored by WFFT and won tickets to the circus, and I got to be IN the circus. I remember the spangly red, white and blue costume I got to wear.
What stood out for me though, was trying to avoid stepping in elephant poop. The guy who was walking me around the ring would move over and I was afraid of getting the poop on my brand new, red leather shoes. My shoes emerged unscathed. Figures. My big moment in the limelight, and I worry about s$%^ on my shoes. Hope I get another 15 minutes of fame, and hope I donít have to worry about where Iím stepping.