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Cline column: Contract terminated

By Mike Cline
For the Salisbury Post
SALISBURY — At last, the calendar says that spring is here.
And with the coming of the new season, it’s time for an annual tradition — spring cleaning. So I shall begin with cleaning my chest, as in getting some things off of it.
We all have obligations in our lives. Let’s call them “contracts.” The only contracts I have that fall under the category of “lifetime contracts” are those commitments to my family and friends. All the rest have time limits.
Before continuing, I am obligated to post the following disclaimer: Just because I have little or no interest in something that others enjoy doesn’t mean I am against it. Or that I hate it. Or your liking something I don’t doesn’t make you an inferior person.
Example: If cable or satellite providers wish to program adult movies for subscribers who want them, and I do not, I will not scream that they should remove them from their schedules.
Example: If a library has a book in its collection that offended me when I read it, I will not demand that the book be pulled so no one else can read it.
Stuff like that. Now back to the regularly scheduled article.
I did business with a satellite television provider for 13 years. Over time, I grew dissatisfied with its customer service (or lack of). The night the service tech asked me to climb on my roof at midnight and adjust my dish to avoid sending a representative to do what I was paying them a monthly maintenance fee to do, along with eventually scheduling me for a service call nine days later, well, that was enough.
So I did go up on the roof, but only to rip the dish from my chimney. Contract terminated.
Then the calls began. “We’re sorry you have chosen to discontinue our services. To get you back, however, we will offer you some great deals.” I replied, “Why didn’t you offer me great deals when I was a customer?”
The kid had no response to my question. I’m guessing nothing about that was written on the index card he was reading aloud to me.
And then there is college. My wife and I were fortunate that we were able to finance both of our children through four years of college without student loans.
It was a struggle sometimes to write out that tuition check, but we managed. Our contract with the schools was to pay the bills as long as our kids were enrolled. They both graduated. Contracts terminated.
So it’s a waste of their time and money to send me letters every month telling me why I should continue to send them money. It’s not going to happen. If I had invented Facebook, things might be different.
And I don’t need anyone ringing my doorbell trying to sell me on his religion. I have my religious beliefs. I consider them personal. I promise I will never ring their doorbells and pressure them to believe what I do. I expect the same in return.
The same for gutters. If I need new gutters, I know where to get them. I don’t need anyone ringing the doorbell telling me he’s in the area “talking with many of my neighbors” about gutters.
With spring comes the end of the regular season for college basketball, leading to March Madness. This is often a touchy subject with friends, one in particular. We’ll call him “Alan.” A few weeks ago, we met for breakfast.
Alan says, “Duke and Carolina play tonight. You going to watch?”
“No.”
“You’re not watching? It’s Duke and Carolina!”
“I know. Not watching.”
“But your daughter graduated from Carolina.”
“Well, then maybe she’ll watch it.”
“You really should watch.”
I explained to him, as I have for 10 years, that I am a casual basketball fan, unlike him. If I wish to watch any of it, I will, but I have no such contract with any school or television network obligating me to watch. I also told him that I was not going to watch a ballet or opera that night, because I have little interest in them as well.
“What are you going to do tonight?” he asked.
“I’ll probably watch a movie.”
I can’t properly describe in words the look of disgust I saw.
“You can watch a movie any time,” he said. “This is Duke and Carolina!”
“But I don’t want to watch it. I’d rather do something else.”
For the record, this was the game Carolina won, as opposed to the later tournament game in which they were whipped like government mules.
When you reach my age, one of the most precious things you have is time. So why use it to do something you don’t want to do, unless you have to?
But no hard feelings (refer back to the disclaimer).
The same goes for the NFL. I’ll plop down on some Sunday afternoons and watch a little bit of a football game, but not a complete one. I did watch the entire Super Bowl this year but only because I was at a party with friends.
And what if there is no NFL on television this fall? I’ll get past it. I hope everyone will. The players and owners are fighting over “issues.” I’ll bet contracts are involved.
Chest cleaned off. Now on to the bedroom closet.
Mike Cline writes an occasional column for the Post. His website, “Mike Cline’s Then Playing” (www.mikeclinesthenplaying.com), documents the movies which played in Rowan County from 1920 through 1979.

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