The Koopa and the Autobot

As a kid, I used to think that the television would wait for me. Like when I turn the television off, radio transmission is paused. And when the tv is back on, programming magically resumes.

To verify this, perform the following steps:

  1. Turn on the television. Remember what was playing.
  2. Turn it off.
  3. Turn the television back on. Notice that the same show is playing. It’s usually is the same scene too.

The television waits for me.

If it happened to be a different scene or (rarely) a different show, I dismissed that as a glitch in the system. A system that, to me, worked almost every time. [1]

Someone was doing it, someone at the broadcasting company. But who? Was it even a person? Maybe it was an Autobot whose job was to make sure kids don’t miss their favorite shows, especially Transformers. Or someone from Super Mario World. A kind Koopa? And was he taking turns with the Autobot? Because they need breaks too.

This had implications on everyday life. Nearly all of which was to remember to turn the television off if I was going to be away for more than a few minutes. How else could I tell them when to stop?

I don’t quite know when I figured this out. There is no specific moment that I can think of and say “That’s when I was told!” Which was great, because reality is somewhat less magical.

The Koopa and the Autobot have now quietly made way for other things. I still miss them sometimes.

[1] The system did have a few caveats.

  • Changing the channel before turning the tv off was a no-no. It’ll stop the transmission for that channel and the ‘correct’ one will still be running.
  • There was a time limit for the wait. I pegged it to a half hour, but it could be longer sometimes. I could find no clear pattern. But if you didn’t turn the television back on within that period, the Koopa-Autobot team just decided to continue with the next scheduled programme.