TV “Work” vs. Real Work



Americans are a depressed lot.  Antidepressant pills get prescribed like candy.  In a wealthy society, in a land of plenty.  Often well-off people at that, people who’s basic needs are more than met.  Why is this?  I am convinced a large part is our TV and entertainment culture.  On TV, life’s little problems rarely last over 60 minutes.  At the top of the hour all is well in the world.

Work is exciting.  Take Don Draper as an example.  Show up at work at 10, drink and smoke in your office all day, save an account, then diner with clients.  Beautiful wife at home and you drive a Cadillac.  His bosses have things even better, more drinking and smoking, less actual work.  Don is not at all the first TV show based on an advertising agency.  I guess advertising is considered glamorous by writers, or the writers are playing up to the real customers of the TV Networks.



Most people do not love their jobs.  Many like their jobs, but aside from the guy who turns a hobby into a job or the real workaholic, the average person would rather be doing something else.  I like my job, but if I could play poker all day I would be out of there.  I come because they pay me.  There have been other jobs, some I liked some I loathed.  The constant was I did what needed to be done in return for my time and skill.

Some people totally hate their jobs.  This is an awful situation to be stuck in.  Imagine spending over ½ of your awake time being somewhere and doing something you hate!  I do not need to imagine it, I myself have lived it.  Thing is, sometimes the job you love becomes the job you hate.  The same thing could be said about the woman you love, but that is for the “Why Stay Single” chapter.

What you must do is not keep thinking it will get better.  Job hate seems to go only one way, worse and worse.  You might hate a job from the start, but you take it because that is what there is at the time.  It happens.  Statistically you will end up in a job you hate for at least a short period of time.  Remember, you take a job for the money, not because showing up to the office is a fun thing to do.  Hopefully, you have not taken a job hoping it is one thing but is really another.


In the 1980s, “L.A. Law” came on the air.  It presented a very glamorized version of the business of practicing law.  Hot partner-track attorney Ann Kelsey, younger associate Abby Perkins, and the men all dressed sharp and never wanted for the ladies.  The work was never dull, cases just appeared at the law firm, and the attorneys mostly all got to show their stuff in court.  The show was credited for an increase in law school admissions.

This is hardly the only lawyer show to skew reality.  It was one of TVs great shows, must-see-TV of the 1980s.  But it really has no resemblance to reality for a young lawyer.  What is reality?

Law firms are only going to recruit the top students from the top schools.  Many of those recruits will be CPA-Lawyers for tax work.  Most grads will hit the ground scrounging for a job with a boatload of student debt.  Law is a lead-driven business, like many businesses from pests control to insurance.  If and I mean if you get hired at a decent firm, partner tract positions are fewer and fewer.  You are going to have to bring in work to make partner.  This is a simple concept as why give a piece of the pie to someone not bringing food to the table.

So you instead decide what you really want to do is hang out a shingle and be in your own practice.  How will this go?  If you are doing criminal law you will be dealing with people who probably did it.  Yes, there is the innocent person wrongly accused, then there are the other 95%.  The clients in criminal law will not be the most savory of folks.  After you handle their case, you have to collect!  Of course, you had a retainer to get them started, how long does this last.  Meanwhile, your rent, student loans, and malpractice insurance all have to be paid each month.  Perhaps you get lucky and end up some kind of mafia lawyer, getting people off and having to live with them hitting the streets again.

Think you will get to work a case, arguing in court?  For most lawyers the only way they see the inside of a courtroom is to get a DUI.  Speaking of DUIs, another example of a lead-driven life.  I know a woman got a DUI.  Within a week she could barely close her mailbox for all the DUI-lawyer solicitations stuffed inside.  Even with our current DUI-industrial complex being fed daily, how many cases can a lawyer expect?  How much time chasing each case?

What does happen to young, average law-school grads?  Often they get hired for something they are far over-qualified for.  Legal research or review of contracts.  I have worked side by side many in my career.  Doing mostly the same work.  They might have been making more, though when you add in law school plus lost income during law school, well, it could not have been enough to cover that.

This is just an example for lawyers on TV vs reality because, well, I have worked with them doing legal work.  Surely there are more, ask a cop how TV vs reality compares.



How many people say this?  Worked with one said it all the time.  One day I told him, “you do know I have my degree and I am sitting next to you right now?”  The week I left the job there was a guy with his MBA sitting next to me, doing the same job!  The MBA was *the* thing to have late-1990s.  Seemed the ticket past the trenches and into the executive floor.  Looked at one, so glad I never went for it.  I had another MBA running a pest control route for me, a job that requires high school at most.  Another MBA I know has given up on the rat race and finds a happier life delivering Amazon packages and pizza.

“You have to get your degree” has been stated so often we believe it to be true.  Lately, it does not matter what your degree is in, as long as you get it the people who tell you to go are happy.  How many degrees are of any use?  Liberal Arts degrees are nearly universally useless.  Any degree with the word “studies” in it is totally useless.  (Women’s Studies, Minority Studies, etc.)  History?  Useless.  What is useful?


There is one reason for you to pursue a degree.  To get the training for a job that will pay you enough in income to generate a positive return on investment of tuition and time.  That’s it.  The college will say different.  The college will say it is about a “well rounded individual” and “no degree is worthless.”  Sorry, but this is “Faculty Lounge Talk.”  By that I mean it is what professors and deans peddling useless degrees say to each other in the Faculty Lounge to justify their existence.  Imagine if you are providing nothing of value but are getting paid well for it.  Most people cannot handle ripping people off day in and day out, year after year.  So they invent the idea that they are making “well rounded people” and to just go to college to be trained for a good income is beneath the idea of a university in the first place.

If you should ignore the general advice here about skipping the whole process due to poor Return On Investment, do ask yourself what on earth kind of job the degree you pick will get you.  Rich kids who are going to have Daddy set them up in a job but have to bide a few years time get to pick useless degrees.   Girls pick useless degrees all the time, though half that time the major is “husbandry.”  The other half lead a marginal life, working simple jobs complaining about student loans they are on a forebearance plan but getting negatively amortized since they are not making event the interest payments.  They end up in debt shackles for life.