Sometimes I think I can deduce what people watch on TV based on how they behave. I just assume that overly melodramatic people are big soap opera fans, and people who like to cook watch a lot of food shows.
(Of course, the inverse isn’t necessarily true. I watch a few “foodie” shows, and I couldn’t cook my way out of a microwave popcorn bag.)
Generally, I figure an awful lot of people I run into must be watching Jackass rerun marathons every few hours, but that’s not the point just now. Instead, I’m thinking about the viewing habits of a woman in my office. And I’m convinced she’s into Columbo, the old police show starring Peter Falk.
Now, maybe you’re not familiar with this particular show. Perhaps you don’t watch a lot of detective dramas, or you’re not ridiculously old enough to have caught it in its heyday. Or, possibly, you’re really ungodly old, and you were busy watching Matlock and Walker, Texas Ranger instead.
“That’s loosely translated from Latin. Via the Temptations.”
(But you’re reading a blog. So you can’t be that old, surely. Unless your AOL search is acting up, and sent you here accidentally. So sorry.)
Anyway, why Columbo? Because, in his parlance, this lady follows Columbo’s M.O. That’s modus operandi, of course, meaning “the way you do the things you do”.
That’s loosely translated from the Latin. Via the Temptations.
I’m not saying this person has adopted all of Detective Columbo’s various peculiarities. For instance, he wore a shabby overcoat and chewed cigars a lot. So far as I know, she doesn’t do this. Maybe in the privacy of her own home. I haven’t asked.
What she does emulate quite well is Columbo’s particular style of interrogation. Which is particularly unsettling, given that she’s not actually a detective. And that I’m not a perp. And that she only comes to my office to ask computer questions. Frankly, I’m not quite sure how to respond.
She’ll come sauntering in aimlessly — very Columboesque, you know — and start with a bit of harmless-seeming chitchat. The weather. The weekend. Woolly mammoths, for all I know — I usually tune this part out.
Next come the questions. Little ones at first, just nibbles. How much RAM does this take? Can I open this other thing in Excel? What’s a megabyte? Every once in a while, the interrogation will cover old material; that’s when I feel like a ’70s-style suspect from the show, with an overwide collar and paisley socks and maybe a body stuffed under the stairs.
“We’ve covered this!” I say.
“Oh yeah, of course, sure. That’s right. I just wanted to make sure.”
And so I smile that tired indulgent smile that the perps used to smile at Columbo, and we let the session run its course. She gets her information, bit by bit, drip by drip, until finally there’s nothing left to learn. And then she stands, and heads for the door.
And she reaches the doorway.
And she turns.
And then, invariably, like Falk reincarnated, rest his stogie-chomping soul, she squints a little and waggles a finger back in my direction and delivers the signature, soul-crushing, suspect-damning line:
“Er, ah… just one more thing….”
And then she asks another half hour of questions, and I wish I actually did have a body under my stairs so I could tell the cops about it and escape. But I don’t. So I can’t. And the dance of faux Columbo goes on.
It could be worse, I suppose. She could be like one of those other TV detectives. The really nasty ones on Law and Order: SVU, for instance. She could come in slamming doors and desks and growl, “NOW HOW DO I MAKE A PIVOT TABLE, SLIMEBALL?!”
That would be uncomfortable. Possibly preferable, on some days. But definitely uncomfortable.
Instead, we’re locked in on Columbo. It’s almost like it was still on television, in fact. Every week, for about an hour, we have our episode. Thirty minutes in, the “just one more thing“, only there are no commercial breaks and I don’t get thrown in jail at the end. I suppose at this rate, when I can see it coming, it’s just about manageable.
But if this lady ever goes into syndication? And schedules an all-day Columbo marathon?
No. At that point, I’m out. I’m a patient man and all, but I’m sorry. If it gets any worse, this lady will just have to go Falk herself. Series cancelled.Permalink | 1 Comment