Working for the Catholic Channel

Old people. Helping them seems to make up 99% of my job. Working for a local, Catholic television station brings in a very specific audience, as in age 70 to about 95 specific. Most of my conversations go something like this:

“Catholic Life Television, this is Collette, how may I help you?”

“Yeah this is Pauline.” (I don’t know Pauline.)

“Hello, Pauline.”

“Yeah, where’s your Closer Walk program?”

“Well today we…”

“I watch Closer Walk every day and I’ve been watching this channel for thirty years!”

“Well we appreciate that! Yes ma’am today we had..”

“I donate five dollars every month to see that show. Well I don’t send it myself, I live in a nursing home, but cousin Cheryl sends it in for me. That’s what she says, I don’t know.”

“Well ma’am we appreciate that donation but the Pope was giving a special mass this morning, so we showed that instead.”

“Well I don’t think I’m gonna send my five dollars anymore.”

I then proceed to tell Pauline or whoever that while she missed the show today, it will be showing a bazillion more times throughout the week. I then tell her she can even find an entire schedule of the show on our website if she’d like!

“I don’t use the internet.”

We hang up.

 

Even more interesting are the viewers who still live at home but are retired, and all they do, literally all they do, is sit at home and watch our channel. They probably know more about what runs than I do, and I schedule the damn thing.

“Catholic Life Television, this is Collette, how may I help you?”

“It’s Darlene.” (Darlene I do know, she calls me about once a month to complain about something, accompanied by her peanut gallery husband, Henry, somewhere in the background.)

“Hi Mrs. Darlene.” (Darlene sounds like she’s had cigarettes and black coffee for breakfast for the past 50 years.)

“Where was the mass this mornin?”

“Well we had a…”

"What's she saying?"

“She ain’t answered yet!”

I wait a moment for them to finish. “That mass comes from Boston, and we aired a local production of our own, instead.”

“Yeah I seen it. They’re always talkin’ about crazy things and little toys ain’t nobody knows what is. Ain’t nobody care to be seein that.” (She means she means smartphones and ipads…)

“Well we’re not obligated to air anything from Boston, Mrs. Darlene.”

"What's she sayin?"
"She says that mass is from Boston, and they ain't obligated!"
"They ain't obligated?! You tell her we obligated, we tryin'a be good Catholics!"

“Yeah, we tryin to be good Catholics! ”

"Tell her they ain't givin us what we need to be good Catholics!"

“Yeah, you ain’t givin us what we need!”

I can see them, sitting in an old house on stilts in the middle of the bayou, our channel one of the ten local ones they get. He lives out of his recliner, running a small commentary about each show, and she controls the clicker. When they catch something out of the ordinary, they both agree it’s a scandal and give me a call.

After about thirty minutes, most of which Henry and Darlene are talking to each other, I talk them down, until she hangs up with that sugary southern phrase, “Bless your heart.”

 

 

Workflow

Sometimes, when I’ve been standing behind a camera for three hours, and our eighth guest answers the eighth question in a row about how when you give, you’re really getting back so much more, I begin to daydream.

In one swoop, I’m casting aside my ear piece to the tile floor and lunging for the set. My feet land on the twelve year old maroon and pink rug. The host and 90 year old guests are looking bewildered as I kamikaze everything in sight. I gnaw on a bit of fake bookshelf, shred the plastic fica into bits, and my final move?

“I AM SPARTACUS!!!!”

I scream as I hoist the giant, cartoonish, oil pastel painting that is the center piece above my head, and bust it into splinters over my finally-good-for-something knobby knees. By now I can hear the control room shuffling around in a panic, unhooking from headsets an hoisting themselves off of sunken in rolly chairs. Just as the heavy metal door begins to open, I turn to the set’s bay window where the painting stood, and leap through, only to discover that the cheesy backdrop of the green hill and the setting sun is REAL! I take off in a maniacal sprint up the hill, never to be seen again!

“Cut!” rings through the headpiece that is still on my ear. Just one more show to go.

What is Love?

Soul Pancake is an organization run by Rainn Wilson, who you may know better as Dwight from The Office. I firmly believe in what this group is doing, using creativity to express love, humor, spirituality and connection. You can find them here.

And now, for your Tuesday, a little wisdom on love, from Soul Pancake.