Did you ever stop in your tracks and say to yourself, “ boy, I am really dumb.” I had such an epiphany this morning. I was watching a 24 hour news channel and realized that I have been conned for a number of years. Have you ever noticed that news channels of all stripes create an artificial straw man and then get talking heads to knock it down. You can always tell that the answer to their questions clearly enunciate their prejudices even before the talking heads get their chance to pontificate.
The headline, in question form runs something like this, “ Following this next break, we will be asking- Why are bus drivers in Yonkers so rude to their ridership?” We should stop at that point and turn off the t.v. , or switch the channel to I Carly, or Dora the Explorer, or Sci Fy ( no longer Fi). You know what is coming next.
The break ends and the newscaster ( if that is what you can call the rather cynical, snide and well dressed and groomed person masquerading as a serious news person, returns to tell us the problem). “Over the past year, there have been many stories about rude and callous ( a strange word) bus drivers in Yonkers who have treated their riders as an interference in their daily trips. There have been incidents of rudeness, physical assaults and deliberate slights to minorities and old people. In one case a senior citizen was asked for his medicare card, so that he could ride the bus without paying. The driver mumbled something under his breath that sounded like “You old fart.”
“Can we continue to tolerate this behavior on the part of our service employees. Let me introduce our panel for this story- Professor Ann Robards of the Institute of Good behavior, Robert Guthrie, consultant to bus companies around the country and Sidney Schlump, a Yonkers, New York bus driver.”
As you look at these people, you get the idea that the world is divided into two segments- the all knowing experts and the almost inarticulate regular people who have jobs that involve really working. The two experts are well dressed, well coiffed and very articulate. It is as if they have been practicing their palaver for most of their lives. Their speech is peppered with esoteric adjectives and statistics that back up their every word.
Meanwhile, Sidney the working man looks uncomfortable in his suit, or sport jacket that he rarely wears. He is not anywhere as articulate as the two “experts.” His delivery is ordinary or worse and he searches for the right things to say. He mostly talks about the kind of people who get on his bus, who have no manners, who try and squeeze out of paying and who cause trouble once they are on the bus.
He talks about the long hours, the problems with the weather, the rotten compensation, and the problems with increasing traffic. All of these things pertain to the reality of driving his bus on a daily basis.
The news person is anxious to get back to the articulate experts who have absolutely no idea of what it is like to drive a public bus. They smile at the right times and make a wonderful impression on the news folks.
Translate this into any other story on t.v. It is not only the 24 hour news channels. It is everywhere. Somehow we have gotten into the habit of listening to the “suits” for our info and not the people on the firing line. If you look at t.v. in that way, you will get as pissed off as I was this morning, but you will begin to see how things really are.