The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

November 6, 2012

Many professions are ignored by movies, TV

By Jeff Mullin, columnist
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Editor’s note: This column was first published Oct. 17, 2004.

Americans spend a lot of time working.

The average working parent between the ages of 25 and 54 spends eight hours a day working or commuting, 7.5 hours sleeping, 2.6 hours on leisure activities, 1.3 hours caring for others, 1.1 hours doing housework and 3.5 hours eating, shopping and having sex (not all at the same time).

That’s according to a survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Americans love their jobs, or at least those in Los Angeles do.

According to a survey by Digital Marketing Services, 71 percent of full-time employees in L.A. are “thrilled” or “happy” with their current job. Maybe the smog’s getting to them.

Denver is the home of the most disgruntled employees.

Which brings up a question, are you now or have you ever been gruntled?

On second thought, I don’t want to know. Anyway, 16.8 percent of Denverites polled said they were “unhappy” or “miserable” in their current job. Maybe the smog’s getting to them.

Americans must love their jobs, otherwise why would so many TV shows and movies focus on work?

You can’t flip the TV dial without seeing a “CSI” spin-off, or a clone of “Law and Order.”

Rumor has it CBS is planning a “CSI: Pond Creek,” but we’ll see.

There are shows about cops, lawyers, doctors, teachers, baseball bat boys and whatever it is Donald Trump does for a living.

Even my humble profession has been the subject of past TV shows. Remember “Lou Grant?”

A number of movies also have centered on the business of journalism, some of the best being “Citizen Kane,” “The Front Page,” “His Girl Friday,” “-30-,” also known as “Deadline Midnight,” and “All the President’s Men.”

So why should doctors, lawyers, cops and journalists get all the cinematic glory?

I have come up with some ideas for some movies or TV shows about some unsung professions.

• “Cleanup on Aisle 5” is the story of Ned Frick, manager of a grocery store in Kankakee, Ill.

Ned, a single father of two, has to deal with problems ripped from the headlines, like shoplifting, customers leaving their carts in the middle of the parking lot and employees smoking in the break room.

And he’s sweet on Lucille, the butcher with the heart of gold.

• “Down the Drain” tells the story of Fred Nick, who runs his own plumbing firm in Bad Axe, Mich.

Fred is trying to forget his past life, as a plumber in New York City, who turned the wrong tap and flooded the bathroom of mobster Nicky “Three Toes” Petrucci, and has been running for his life ever since.

In the first episode, Fred saves a family from disaster when he arrives just in time to install a new faucet while Dad is still looking for his pipe wrench.

• “Chip Rockstone Frontier Actuary,” is a western set in a suburb of Tombstone, Ariz.

The plot follows the adventures of Chip, a former gunfighter who has settled down to assess the risks inherent in living in a lawless frontier town.

The first episode involves him convincing Miss Molly, the floozy with a heart of gold who runs the local saloon, to have her barkeep, Butch, start washing the shot glasses in hot water instead of rinsing them out in the spittoon.

• “Key to Your Heart” is the tragicomic story of Arnie Barker, locksmith.

In the opening episode, Arnie saves the day when a young woman is locked out of her apartment, with the special dinner she is fixing for her boyfriend still on the stove.

The door opens, dinner is saved and Arnie is invited to the wedding.

But he locks his keys in his truck and misses all the fun.

• “Pick a Card” is the story of Sam Sawyer, owner of a greeting card shop in a mall in Sleepy Eye, Minn.

It’s a romantic comedy. Sam, who is divorced, falls for Sue, who runs the shoe store next door.

He sells her a series of inappropriate greeting cards for her husband, which leads to the breakup of the marriage.

When she comes in for cards announcing her divorce, he sweeps her off her feet with a witty “thinking of you,” card.

I am waiting for Hollywood to call. I also am keeping my day job, I hope.

Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at