You know what’s crazy? I’ll tell you what’s crazy!
9-5 Indentured Servitude.
I am a time clock punching mule, plowing a field of information.
I am an American worker. I toil over a hot stove of long hours and little appreciation.
I work, therefore I am, to plagiarize the philosophical God, René Descartes.
I am Jack’s recalcitrant bile duct.
And just when I think I am an independent contractor, hustling news for a price, I am reminded I am but an oarsman in a slave ship of industrial confinement.
It begins with a simple premise.
I have days to take. If we don’t take the days we lose the days.
So I ask for time off for my son’s wedding, around Halloween.
I don’t think much about it.
Suddenly I get the neon flashing NO.
wtf? Why No?
Because it’s ratings and nobody gets off ratings.
And that’s when I’m reminded that I am a highly skilled indentured servant of broadcasting.
I think I’m free. I think I am a soldier of the 1st amendment. But really, I’m a time clock punching slave.
I am shackled to the clock and my boss is the overseer of the journalistic plantation.
I am but a modern day sharecropper, toiling in the journalistic dung, sweating in the hot sun, and then delivering the fruits of my endeavors to the task master.
I think I can take off the days I want, but I am quickly reminded that I am beholden to the machine.
Ratings are 4 times a year. That’s four months out of 12 months, that nobody can take a vacation.
Think about that. of 365 days, 120 are off limits. Cross em off your calendar.
Sorry American Worker. No Can Do.
So that means 100 percent of the work force has to cram into 66% of the available days for vacation.
That’s the business. It’s ridiculous, and unnecessary.
In the old days, I understood the need for this archaic paradigm. Nielsens measured TV ratings in February, May, July and November. The ratings from those four months set the advertising dollars that TV stations could charge clients the rest of the year. The four months were vitally important to the bottom line. Because of that, Nobody in News was ever allowed to take off in those four months of the year.
But then the internet came and overnight ratings were available and stations began to relax their requirements for time off.
Suddenly you could take a long weekend in July.
Where’s Bill the anchor.
He’s golfing in California this week.
But it’s July.
It’s 2018. Who cares, right?
But suddenly the powers that be have returned to the past.
Suddenly getting days off is harder than sneaking a shiv into the women’s prison.
I’m not sure.
We get ratings every night.
Everyone knows every single day if we won or lost.
So recently I asked for 2 days off in May.
I have 20 days to burn.
So I gotta start taking days.
I had a west coast swing planned.
I was about to dial up Southwest when suddenly it was like WHOA NELLY
Boss says you gotta get special dispensation to take 2 days in May.
May the power of Christ Compel you.
It’s just 2 days in a throw a way month.
You can’t take those days, I am rudely told.
Before I can figure out what to do with those 2 days forbidden in May, another flare across the bow.
No vacation in Late October.
Apparently the November sweeps period begins in late October. So the days I asked for prior to my son’s wedding are now under scrutiny.
I am Jack’s unbridled anger.
I write the boss a letter letting him know this is one of those events I have no control over.
The silence is deafening.
It could be a waterloo moment. It could be a whole lot to do about nothing.
But it’s a reminder that I am a human mule, toiling to impress an overseer who is neither appreciative or responsive to the plight of the worker.
This is the reality of my profession.
Fast Paced and Unforgiving!