Thursday, June 6, 2013
I don’t have a topic today, so I’m just going to natter on about whatever strikes me until I hit a decent word count. Let’s get cracking:
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I like TV but hate commercials. It’s a fact TV shows are shorter than they used to be, and commercial breaks longer and more frequent. The average hour-long drama back in the ‘60s ran about 50-odd minutes. Today it’s more like 45, or less. You can test this with a clock, a DVD player, and the disk sets of your favorite shows. This is why reading is more fun: no ad breaks. Yet. Sooner or later somebody’s going to add commercials to e-readers. Then I’ll have to leave the house, go outside and interact with other people. Oh, the horror …
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Here’s something else missing from TV, along with more minutes of actual show. How many shows today have a theme song? I started noticing this trend back in the ‘90s. The show just starts, and opening credits roll over the opening scene. Where’s the fun in that? What are we supposed to sing in the car now? And you know what those missing minutes are going toward, don’t you? Don’t make me say it. Luckily we still have all those DVD sets mentioned above, so we can relive the longer shows of yesteryear and enjoy their opening theme songs. C’mon, sing it with me: “Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip …”
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I miss the closing credits, too. I’m one of those people who wants to know who did the voices on a cartoon show, or who that familiar-looking extra was standing behind Iron Man. No chance of that these days. Thanks to the computer era, networks can now split the screen and run all sorts of promos for other shows. The credits get shoved into a corner of the screen, in microscopic type. They whip by at lightspeed, too. TV shows are required to credit all the people involved in the production. Apparently, there’s no law to guarantee viewers should be able to read them. If I want to know who did what, I have to get the DVD of the movie or show, or stream it on the computer, to avoid all the intrusive advertising. And networks wonder why their viewership is down.
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One of the worst job interviews I ever had went thusly: I applied for a job at a real estate office. Duties as stated in the want ad included filing and other paperwork, driving physical files from one office to another, and a bit of phone work. I’m not wild about phone work, but the job had other pluses, chief of which was the office being literally right across the street from where I was living. It was part time, but with it being that close I could walk, earn grocery money, and have plenty of time to write as well as look for something more lucrative. The office called, and we set up an appointment for an interview.
Came interview day and I walked across the two-lane to the office. The walk took even less time than I allowed for, so I was early. I sat by the front desk and observed a guy showing a young(er than me), bubbly woman around the office, telling her where everything was located. Alarm bells went off, but I was already there, so what the hell. The young lady departed and I was left with the guy, who, as I’d surmised, was my interviewer.
There followed one of the most excruciatingly painful interviews I’ve ever had to endure. The guy was hesitant, fumbled even standard questions, and didn’t seem all that interested in talking to me. In fact, he seemed downright uncomfortable. He had me fill out an application, even though I’d already sent a resume and we were at the interview stage. It’s never a good thing when the interviewer leaves you to your own devices right in the middle of the interview.
By this time I’d already seen the negative writing on the wall, but I wasn’t about to let him off the hook. Turns out I did anyway. When he mentioned phones, I said I wasn’t fond of phone work. Well, he pounced on that like a squirrel on a bird feeder. He started emphasizing the huge role phones played in the job duties—it was practically all phone work, in fact. By the time the interview ended he was calling the position “receptionist,” a word not mentioned in the original ad. He also admitted, right at the end, that he’d already hired the young lady I’d seen when I came in, so there was no job. Basically, he’d asked me out on a date, then had to deal with me when I showed up right after he’d gotten married. I’m glad I didn’t have to travel too far to put up with this travesty. Imagine driving an hour or more to a job interview and then having this happen. Don’t you just love the working world?
On top of all this, this joke has a punch line. About a year later, after studiously ignoring the whole little office complex, I noticed a new nail salon was going in. That’s when I also noticed the real estate office was gone. I have no idea when it moved out, but I can hazard a guess. My disaster of a job interview took place in October 2008, right around the time the whole housing/economic bubble popped. Over the next year the real estate market took a major hit. I’m guessing the branch office I applied at consolidated with the main office, or shut down completely. So even if I’d gotten the job, it wouldn’t have lasted long. I have a knack for landing jobs in industries on the way down. My first full-time office job was at an engineering firm that specialized in nuclear power plants, in the wake of Three Mile Island. I’ll tell you about that one sometime.
This is why I’m working harder at becoming a successful writer. I can sit at home and make stuff up and get paid for it, and not have to work the phone either. There’s an upside to everything.