I once worked at a company where they had televisions in the lobby, on every floor, and in the break rooms. Most of the time the TVs were tuned to CNN.
The problem with being a 24-hour news channel is that there hardly ever is 24 hours’ worth of news in any given day. Oh, there might be a major news event, but it still doesn’t produce 24 hours’ worth of new information, so they just keep repeating the little they have over and over. (Although when the news does break and if it isn’t tragic as it has been lately, it can be amusing. (Does anyone remember the “Balloon Boy” hoax a few years ago?)
But back to that office. CNN was on, as usual, one day when I went to the office kitchen for coffee. My friend Ben was there and he looked a little down. This was odd, because Ben was just a fun guy to be around.
“Ben, what’s wrong?” I asked him.
“I don’t know what it is,” he said. “I’ve just been so depressed lately. I notice it’s worse when I come to the kitchen for coffee. Please don’t tell me coffee is a depressant.”
“Of course not, Ben, but let me guess: is the TV on when you get your coffee?”
“When isn’t it on? I really don’t pay much attention to it anymore.”
“Well, my guess is that you are paying just enough attention to the commercials to make yourself depressed,” I told him. “It would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic.”
Have you noticed this? Do you see the commercials they are running on CNN during the day? They usually feature some medical device that is fully covered by Medicare. What’s bothering you? We can help. Operators are standing by!!
Need a catheter? A walk-in tub? How about a scooter to help you get around the house, you old coot, you. And because we assume anyone watching TV during the day is either unemployed or (we hope) old, here are a few more reminders of your failing body that we’d like to pitch to you:
- Depends for your leaky bladder because, well, “pee happens.” (Why do they show overweight women dancing around to celebrate their new freedom? Do I want to identify with this group? — I do not.)
- Or the cute cartoon bladder leading it’s owner around by the hand to find the nearest rest room…NOW! (“Again? We just went.”)
- Let’s not forget erectile dysfunction. How could we? Apparently, if a man takes the blue pill, he also grows a stubby beard just to show how virile he is. This leads me to ask: if you and your partner are so aroused, why is it you end up in separate bathtubs at the end of the commercial?
- Irritable bowels? Enjoy the cute bowel cartoon! Remember, some artist actually had to draw that. Do you put something like that on your resume? (Just wondering.)
- The droopy character who represents your depression, tagging along on picnics and shopping trips.
- A bare foot wearing a fedora and sporting toenail fungus and… Never mind, I can’t go on with this one.
- The commercial for an over-the-counter indigestion pill, featuring a person in a restaurant getting slapped silly by the spaghetti on their dinner plate.
And if these are not annoying enough, the disclaimers at the end of the commercials are downright terrifying:
“Patients who have taken this drug have experienced: depression, high blood pressure, temporary blindness, thoughts of suicide, CANCER, DEATH…” but, hey! You’ll be fine.
I think I have an effective treatment for TV Commercial Depression (TVCD–not yet covered by Medicare):
Leave the room when the commercials are on. That’s what Ben did.