A fringe benefit of being retired


By Bill Taylor



It seems to me that one of the fringe benefits of being fully retired – in addition to no longer being rudely awakened from a pleasant sleep by an insistent alarm clock reminding me I must get to work – is the opportunity to watch daytime television. The reason is that daytime TV provides an entirely different programing venue than is found in the late afternoon and evening. Oh, sure, there is an early morning local newscast which is similar to the late afternoon/early evening one, but starting at 7:00 C-SPAN begins its daily programming with “Washington Journal.”

This show usually consists of several segments centered on political topics of the day that are introduced by the C-SPAN host. Each section often features one or more live guests such as a member of congress, a spokesperson or advocate for some special interest group, or a member of the news media.

After the host permits the guest(s) an opening statement, the phones are open to callers who express their opinions on the topic of the day and question the guest(s). That’s when the fun begins as folks of all political stripes get a chance to air their opinions in a nation-wide forum. While some callers make pretty good sense with their comments and questions, a number are so politically biased they take the opportunity to simply vent their intolerance and prejudice for anyone disagreeing with them. Folks, that’s a political reality show – only on daytime TV.

C-SPAN also airs live sessions of congress as well as congressional hearings. Boy, the one with the director of the FBI and the director of NSA was a doozy. Those two gentlemen were so adept at waltzing around questions they could have been featured on “Dancing with the Stars” – but they were probably outshone by the nominee for the supreme court’s performance during his hearing. Democrats tried to bait him by asking “gotcha” type questions, but he not only avoided their traps, but did so continually hour after hour – and in doing so elicited admiration for his bladder control. Yep, daytime reality – live and unrehearsed. Okay, moving on.

I watch one daily “continuing daytime dramatic serial” – also known as a “soap opera” because these shows were originally sponsored by soap companies. Anyway, the one I view has been on for decades with the many of the cast playing the same roles through the years. I greatly enjoy the writing with its ingenious plot lines, dialogue, and believable characters along with excellent role portrayal. Yep, it may not be “reality” but that’s okay – I can spend an hour with my soap “friends”.

“Reality” returns with lotsa afternoon programs that are what I call “here comes the judge” shows. Most are versions of the “small claims court” variety in that one party is trying to recover money from another.. One frequent theme involves a woman trying to get a man to repay what she considers a “loan” but he figures is a “gift”. I rarely tune in to these shows but my Sweetheart for Life enjoys them because some cases are truly funny such as the one where a man told the judge that he never borrows from women because women voluntarily give him money and expensive gifts. When the judge asked why women do so, the guy replied, “Because I’m a stud, that’s why.” Not prime time TV, but interesting, huh.

One very popular daytime program has “getting to the truth” as its theme. Individuals who wish to “set the record straight” about some controversy voluntarily submit to scientific scrutiny by taking a polygraph (lie detector) test, a drug test, and possibly a DNA test. Controversies covered on this show have ranged from marital infidelity to domestic violence, child physical abuse, child sex molestation, paternity, and even participation in or knowledge about someone’s death.

The procedure is that the host interviews the guests before a studio audience and then reveals questions asked during the lie detector tests and the results thereof. Sometimes this is quite dramatic as an individual proves to be a wife-beater or a child molester, but on the other hand a person may turn out to be a faithful spouse despite suspicions to the contrary. One couple whose two children were taken away because authorities claimed child abuse passed the lie detector tests with flying colors – and hoped to use the results in helping get their children back.

Well, there’s a sample of how daytime TV has proved to be a fringe benefit during my retirement days, but there is one complication. Trying to catch these shows sometimes interferes with another fringe benefit. Yep, whether to enjoy a TV program or indulge in a daytime nap can be a difficult choice. At least that’s how it seems to me.

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By Bill Taylor

Bill Taylor, a Greene County Daily columnist and area resident, may be contacted at solie1@juno.com.

Bill Taylor, a Greene County Daily columnist and area resident, may be contacted at solie1@juno.com.