Always best to think for yourself

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

I wanted static, but got the word of God.

The radio in my car broke, though no fault of mine (in case the warranty people are reading this). I made a call to get it replaced. No problem, they said, and it would be great if I could come in on Friday.

So there I was Monday morning, and they finished the job before … well, I didn’t look at the clock, but I only lost three solitaire games on my cell phone. Measure time in video games, and life is brighter.

Ah, new radio. Time to peel that plastic film on the clock, which they’ve set for me. And time to enter radio station presets, which … they’ve set for me? Positions one through six are filled out, and the first is a Christian music station.

I felt like comedian Mike Birbiglia, whom I was fortunate to meet during a 2008 show in Portales. He has a bit about listening to Christian rock by accident, because it always sounds like a Bon Jovi ballad about innocuous things like oatmeal:

“I woke up in the morning, and I

got myself some oatmeal, and I

put some raisins on it, and …

Christ is God, Christ is God,

God, God, God,”

And Birbiglia wonders, what happened to the oatmeal?

I, meanwhile, conclude these stations were entered locally, because the first six all matched local radio stations. A radio pre-programmed in Detroit matching six radio stations in New Mexico? Impossible.

And I wonder … what’s the radio programmer’s end game? Do they assume from looking at me or my car that I’d enjoy that music? Or have they concluded I need this music? “This guy has a Men’s Health magazine in the back seat and 10 Burger King bags on the floor. Let’s program some spiritual intervention.”

I didn’t mind the musical choice; more that a stranger pre-determined what music I liked. I still get upset when I put my mp3 player on “shuffle” and find music pre-programmed by the manufacturer. It would be like walking into, say, an Applebee’s and finding a fondue plate in advance. I like fondue, but I hate a stranger assuming I like it.

Food doesn’t arrive before menus, music shouldn’t pre-exist on new mp3 players and radio stations shouldn’t show up on my plastic-film-still-attached radio.

But I also know leaving things up to the customer doesn’t always produce the results it should. I was getting a haircut a few weeks ago, and so was a guy sitting next to me. The stylist asked him how the sides looked, and he called his girlfriend over so she could tell him the haircut was OK before he said yes.

I was numb the rest of my haircut. After he left, I asked my stylist, “Did she let him ride in the front when they left?” I called a married friend later that night, and told her I needed a ruling from somebody in a relationship. I didn’t finish the story before she said, “UN-AC-CEPTABLE. I would smack my husband if he ever did that.”

I’ve never seen that man again, but I have no idea how I’d help him. There’s no radio station that can do that.

Kevin Wilson is a columnist for Freedom New Mexico. He can be contacted at 763-3431, ext. 313, or by e-mail: kevin_wilson@link.freedom.com