Get The Picture? By Sherry Hopkins

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 26, 2010

Sherry Hopkins

Candid moments often best kept private, confidential

Ol’ man winter finally released me from his icy tentacles this past weekend. The weather was warm and the cerulean sky was clear and beautiful. Even the birds seemed to be enjoying the respite though brief it was.

Today we are back in the 20s and windchills are brutal. Will I ever make it to Spring?

My complaint today is not with Dear Don so he gets a much-needed break. My complaint is with television, the device that takes up most of my free time.

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I am upset about the term “breaking news.”

In the past this term was used for stories that had significant national or local interest. Perhaps a weather event that threatened the viewing area or a national figure had died or was seriously ill. Perhaps we had just made an historical moon landing or a beloved President had been mortally wounded.

Our local stations, all of them, not just one in particular, are now announcing “breaking news” for robberies, house fires and shootings.

All of my news comes from Memphis and I have to say in a city that size I would venture a guess that at any given time someone is being shot at, robbed or their home is being consumed by fire. Unfortunately it is a sign of the times.

Just last week every local station and most news related cable stations broke away from regular programming to allow the viewers to witness a disgraced sports figure, stammer his way through a weak apology for all his personal misdeeds. Did we really need to see that display? Did you care whether or not he was remorseful? I certainly did not.  He did not need to explain or seek redemption with me and I’m betting with you either. That my friend was not  breaking news.

There is much too much on television these days that should be kept private. Everything one says or does is now open to public scrutiny and ridicule thanks to camera phones in the hands of amateurs furnishing video and pictures to socializing web sites, groveling television stations and sites such as YouTube for your viewing pleasure.

Wow! Everything you say or do can now live on in infamy. Or at least come back to haunt you in a most unattractive way.

Each of us has probably had our own moment of weakness where we were certainly not at our best. Do we really want the whole world to see us that way?

I, for one, do not.

A year or so ago before I retired I was running errands on my lunch break. I had thirty minutes and needed to accomplish a lot. As my time wound down I got in the drive-thru line to pay my electric bill. There was only one vehicle in front of me and I had a good ten minutes before I needed to get back to work. It was my last errand.

Fifteen minutes later I was still sitting in the same spot, but by then there were other cars lined up behind me. Trapped is how I felt. The car in front was obviously having difficulties with their bill. I sat and fumed and fumed.

The least the clerk at the window could do, I thought, was to ask the customer to come inside to take care of the matter at hand. This did not happen. Finally, at least 15 minutes later, the offending car moved.

By the time I made my way to the window I had lost my considerable temper. As the clerk smiled and pushed the button to open the drawer, I threw my payment into the drawer as she politely exclaimed, “Have a nice day.”

I glared menacingly back and drove off with a huff. I never acknowledged her manners. I’m not proud of that moment and should have apologized for my behavior, but I did not. I’m sure it was worse to me than to the clerk who deals with all types every day.

I’ve never thought about it, but there is probably a camera at that window and my scowl and rude behavior was captured for infinity. Not a side of me often seen by anyone other than poor ol’ Dear Don.

So now I am extra nice to others no matter the circumstance. I try to “put the shoe on the other foot” so to speak. So if you see me misbehaving when I’m out, before you record me for YouTube or posterity please remind me to smile because I’m on Candid Camera.

You get the picture.

(Award-winning columnist Sherry Hopkins can be contacted at