Monthly Archives: January 2014

Hook, Line and Soap Opera

Andrea Freedman

I have a secret. For the past thirty something years I have devoted one hour of each day, Monday to Friday, to watching my favourite soap opera. It is a guilty pleasure that gives me an excuse to stop whatever I am doing and relax for just one hour a day.

I have repeatedly vowed that if they did certain things on the show I would stop watching it. For example, when an actor quits the show or gets fired I think they should kill off that person’s character rather than bring in a new actor to play that person. I think that would be my biggest complaint about the ridiculousness of soap operas.

Couples planning to get married will often not make it to the altar and if they do, it will only end in divorce soon after. It is not unheard of for a character that is supposedly dead to come back years later, sometimes as someone else who had plastic surgery to look like the deceased. Characters on the show divorce and remarry each other, of course not before marrying or at least sleeping with their ex’s brother or sister or in some cases father, all in the name of love.

Lies that are covered up always come back, sometimes many years later. Faithful fans try to play detective and figure out who did what or who is going to end up sleeping with whom next. The storylines and the dramas of these people’s lives are nothing short of preposterous and fans cannot help admiring someone who in real life would be thought of as heartless and cruel. All of a sudden a character who was supposed to be a child only months earlier in real time comes back as a teenager.

Having said all that, no matter how silly or unrealistic some of the things that happen on my soap opera may be, or how many times they switch actors on me, no matter how many times stories are recycled from years past, unforgivable mistakes conveniently swept under the rug and cause me to sometimes actually get angry and yell at the TV screen, I still keep coming back for more. These people have been coming into my living room for decades and I look forward to seeing them every day.

Friends who started out watching the show with me years ago but have long since given it up are shocked when I admit that I still watch it. If any of those same people dare to call me during the show I think to myself “Don’t you know what time it is?”

I have been teased many times with comments such as “You know these people aren’t real, don’t you?” There have, however, been some real life tragedies over the years such as the passing of long-time beloved actors. The show would never be the same but it was something the fans had to get through together.

There are many people who say that soap operas are just plain ridiculous and a waste of time to watch; nonetheless, I always find it funny that many of these same people just so happen to know the names of all of the main characters on the show that I watch and sometimes, even bits and pieces of the storyline.

I have asked myself what I would replace that hour with if I really did decide to stop watching my soap opera. Perhaps I would get something productive done, like say, more writing. But maybe I would just want to find another mindless time-waster to fill the slot in my daily routine that has been otherwise occupied for so many years.

There is no denying that daytime soap operas are a dying breed but for as long as my soap is still on the air I will most likely keep watching. The characters may not be real but they’ve got me hooked and no matter if I get on my “soap box” to complain about their behaviour, holes in the storylines or changes in actors, I might as well face the fact that I will most likely be a devoted fan right up until the end.

I guess there is pretty much nothing they could do that would get me to cease watching my soap opera once and for all. I would not want to be friends with many of the characters on the show but for as long as they keep coming to visit me in my living room every afternoon that is fine with me.♦

Copyright © by Andrea Freedman 2014

Calling in Sick – What a Sick Feeling!

Andrea Freedman

This blog post, my first of 2014, is a few days later than I had originally anticipated. Like many of you, I was excited to start fresh for the New Year. I planned on taking a break for the holidays and then jumping right back into novel querying, blogging, article writing, you name it. The trouble was I woke up the first day after the holidays only to realize that I had been stricken with a horrible flu and cold which would knock me out of commission for almost an entire week.

Luckily I had stuck to my exercise routine over the holidays but I did plan to up the intensity a little at the gym beginning in the New Year. Well, not only was I unable to do that, I could hardly move, let alone make it to the gym for even a light workout.

I did manage to get one small writing assignment finished in between napping and complaining about not feeling well but even that was not easy. Shivering with fever, I found it physically impossible to even go downstairs and check the mail.

It got me thinking; one thing I am grateful for is that I did not have to call in sick to a job. When you feel awful, it is very difficult to be productive even when you are working from home but it sure beats having to muster up the nerve to call a boss and break the news that you will not be in to work that day due to illness.

It is bad enough when one wakes up feeling sick on a Monday morning or even a Friday when it might arouse suspicion in an employer but when it happens on the first day back after a holiday it makes it that much worse.

Most companies put a lot of pressure on their employees to take very limited sick days, resulting in people coming back to work often before they are ready, only having to take another sick day soon after.

There were many times in the past when I was sick on a particular day that was one of those days where I thought “I can’t be sick today.” On those occasions I would often drag myself into work, going through one Kleenex after another, my temperate rising and my head throbbing. If I wasn’t already feeling badly enough, I was sure to be feeling worse by the end of the day. I would then have to stand on the over-crowded subway, barely making it home without collapsing.

Although there was what was referred to as a sick room where I worked, you could go lie down but what is the point of that when you feel pressure to get back to your desk and get your work done? I think if you are feeling that bad you need to be home in your own bed.

I recall one boss I had many years ago who, when I did absolutely have to call in sick, used to say things to me like “Can you just put on jeans and come in?”, as if what I was wearing was going to do anything to improve my nausea and raging fever, or “What did the doctor say?” I could not understand how anyone in their right mind would think that a person calling them from bed before eight in the morning would have had a chance to go to the doctor. Besides that, I know when I don’t feel well and I don’t need a doctor to tell me that.

Once I had finally made a decision to stay home (often after calling my grandmother early in the morning for encouragement) I certainly did not wish to spend what was supposed to be a restful day at home sitting in a doctor’s office with a bunch of other sick people.

Our health should be one of our top priorities but unfortunately the culture of our workforce makes people go to work when they should really be at home taking care of themselves. This is especially true for those who are paid hourly and get no money when they are sick.

While we are on the subject, I wish employers would stay home when they are sick too. No one is, contrary to popular belief, that important that a business would fall apart if he or she were not there for one day. Still, many bosses choose to come in and cough all over everyone and everything in the workplace and then wonder why their employees are off sick the next day.

Cold and flu season is difficult enough to deal with. We all need to do our part to ensure that we make it through the winter as easily and as healthily as possible and we can each help do that by looking after ourselves and trying not to spread germs to others.

Remember, if you find yourself feeling under the weather one morning, do yourself as well as your co-workers a favour and don’t be afraid to stay home. You are adults with bosses who hopefully trust and respect you enough to realize that you are not playing hooky from work but are in fact legitimately sick.

I may not be getting a steady paycheque, but on the days when I wake up not feeling well, this winter, the only place I will be going is right back to bed.☼

Copyright © by Andrea Freedman 2014