Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Marriage 601, Lecture 123: Don't bother me while I am watching TV

I have been on a TV-watching binge. I should be doing intellectual things, like reading the book about the history of 500 years of imprisonment in the US, or working on my novel or writing for the blog I have (or had - I have decided that I am not going to write for free unless it's here) with the local paper or doing other  things that improve my community or my mind.

But instead, I am watching TV because I am a lazy slug who gets home from work and doesn't feel like using her brain and just wants to be entertained.

I hang my head in shame.

In the meantime, though, I have to comment on what I saw on season four of The Good Wife. Note that I know it is fiction and that nobody else but me probably cares about these things.

1. Did they really have an entire episode about a bunch of coders and the firm's secretaries wanting to unionize because they didn't get paid overtime even after working 60 hours in one week? I think that is what I heard. I have already returned the discs to the library (and have moved on to Scandal), but I am pretty sure that's what one of the big issues was. Should they get OT for working more than 6o hours in one week?

Now am I going to go into a Dumb Hollywood rant. The same people who think it is a reasonable plot point to have middle class couples dying without life insurance and having appointed guardians for their children without ever having spoken to the guardians (Raising Helen, Life as We Know It) now bring you a complete misunderstanding of labor law.

Wait. Let's return to the life insurance/will thing.

Please raise your hands if you have minor children. Now, leave your hands up if you have life insurance. Leave them up if you have a will and have designated a guardian for your children. Put your hands down if you named a guardian for your children in your will but never discussed this subject with the guardian.

I will bet that everyone who raised a hand in Step One still has a hand raised. Why? Because NORMAL PEOPLE are not so STUPID as to name a guardian for their kids without EVEN ASKING THE GUARDIAN.

And normal people make sure they have life insurance once they have kids because they care about what might happen to their kids if they die.

Back to labor law.

The plot point was that the secretarial staff and the coders wanted to negotiate contracts where they would get OT after working 60 hours in one week.

Had not a single person involved in the making of that show ever had an hourly job in high school? Or any salaried or waged job where the law is clearly displayed in the break room?

a. It is federal law that non-exempt employees (ie, people who are not exempt from getting OT, a situation I have not had for many years, which just means that when I work more than 40 hours in a week, I have the privilege of not getting paid extra for it. The usual line is, "Well, you already make the big bucks and that includes long hours and weekends and 16-hour flights to Elbonia," but I would dare anyone at my current job to look me in the eye and tell me I am making "big bucks") be paid OT after 40 hours.

Period. The law is not that employees may collectively bargain for that level of pay. The law is that the employer has to pay it. Hadn't anyone in that episode ever read the materials in the break room where it clearly states that OT must be paid after 40?

Now, as I am thinking about it, perhaps both groups want additional OT after 60 hours. Perhaps I have completely misinterpreted the situation and the writers knew exactly what they were talking about. However, my next point makes me think that the writers have no clue about reality and that I am correct in my interpretation.

2. The show takes place in Chicago. Alicia Florrick and her colleagues are always dressed beautifully. She wears gorgeous shoes and has an entire wardrobe of coats. I agree that one needs more than A Winter Coat when one lives this far north. When I was in Memphis, I had A Winter Coat. I had no shovels.

Now I have a Complete Suite of Winter Outerwear and a Complete Suite of Snow Removal Equipment. One winter coat is not enough. You need your church winter coat, your shoveling snow winter coat, your walk to the bus stop and wait for the bus in four below winter coat, your it's not that cold but I need something winter coat, etc, etc.

Here's what I can tell you: Only one of those coats will be pretty.

All of Alicia's coats are pretty. I have never seen her wear her walking around the wind tunnel that is known as downtown Chicago and bitterly cold winter coat.

I have never seen her wear her coat that makes her look like the Michelin Man.

I have never seen her wear her walking in snow, slush, and salt shoes. Her beautiful heels would last about two seconds outdoors. No traction. Expensive leather that would be marred in a second. No coverage of her legs, which do get cold - when it's really cold, I wear sweats over my tights until I get to work, which is when I change out of my walking to the bus stop boots and into my nice shoes. I have four pairs of shoes and a pair of nice boots at work.

I was worried on Christmas Eve that I would look too crummy at church. But it was too cold and there were nine inches of snow on the ground - I decided I was not going to sacrifice my comfort that much to look good.

When I got to church, I realized I was with My People: Practicality rules. Nobody was wearing Alicia Florrick heels or a coat. We were all wearing our Michelin Man coats and our Sensible Boots. We are not TV People.


webb said...

Not to be argumentative, or to make you even less happy with your current job ... but are you aware that about 15 years ago Congress tightened the definitions for "Exempt"? An employer can no longer simply declare that "highly paid" people are exempt, and supervising folks is not enough in and of itself.

Apparently a lot of computer folk who did indeed make the big bucks, but who worked mega-hours cried wolf and won. Now to be exempt, you have to be able to actually hire and fire (yourself, not with someone else's approval) or make business commitments on behalf the company/firm, or have professional training. The latter is the teachers, lawyers, doctors, accountants exemption. Most of the rest of us are no longer really able to be exempt - legally.

Not sure I would risk losing my job over looking into it, but ....

From your descriptions of your working conditions and a bit about your job ... you might not be [legally]exempt.

wellfedfred said...

Remember the lovely Joyce, the Public Defender on Hill Street Blues? I drooled over her clothes. I wondered when there would be an episode in which the way Joyce paid for her clothes would be revealed. She dressed like no PD anyone had ever encountered in real life. I suspected sugar daddy, I suspected drug dealing, bribes, corruption. Mentioned this to too many people. There came an episode in which Joyce was heard to say that her trust fund had never meant much to her. Sigh. Would have preferred a sexy bandit BF.

Class factotum said...

Webb, unfortunately, I do not make the big bucks but I do arrange contracts on behalf of the company. :(

Fred, I want a trust fund. Typical rich kid attitude, though - money doesn't matter. It only doesn't matter to people who have always had it.

Joy said...

I wrote a clever comment but it got eaten. Short version: I love the strong, complicated women characters on The Good Wife. I hate the absurd portrayal of the practice of law. Pretty much every episode is full of wrong statements of the law, malpractice, and laughably unrealistic situations.