Friday, June 4, 2010

Your Radio or Your CD Player?

I was at the auto mechanic's, getting the car we had just purchased ready for a long road trip in the US. The radio was only able to receive one or two stations, and neither of them was NPR. I wanted that fixed.

The mechanic spent nearly 20 minutes pulling out everything. He conferred with his boss, and then they both came to discuss with me. "The antenna can go either to the CD player or to the radio, but not to both. Which one do you want?"

I had to decide on the spot, and since we had paid an extra $300 for the luxury of having a 12-disc CD player, I told them to leave it the way it was. Sensing my disappointment, the head mechanic only charged me half the quoted price.

On the evening before our departure my friend Kalyan said, "Part of the fun of a long road trip is being able to listen to random radio stations in the places you are driving through." I then wished that I had opted for the radio.

The next day we set out, with a few favorite CD's in the player. That evening, in Bloomington IL, when my wife was out of the car somewhere, I decided to fiddle with the radio again. And to my surprise, NPR came on loud and clear. Earlier, sometime during the drive, my wife had pushed a couple of buttons to shut off the CD player. (Later on, we figured it out. The radio would come on only if the player was fully shut off, something that both the mechanics had missed.)

So now I can listen to my CD's or to NPR in the car as much as I want. Happiness, it seems, is in having small choices.

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