There was a comical character performer named Billy DeWolf who once had an routine where he would act in a rather prissy tone or as a scold, where he would say something to the effect as “I don’t have time for you as I’m always Bus-y, Bus-Y, BUS-Y!” with am emphasis on the word “busy”! It was an act that he used when he appeared as a spot on a number of TV sitcoms in the 1960’s and early 1970’s, as well as a few TV and radio commercials where he would play a rather fussy and somewhat hard to please person. (To understand how this portrayal went, one can hear this shtick as he plays the magician Professor Hinkel in the cell animated Christmas TV special Frosty The Snowman, produced by Arthur Rankin Jr and Jules Bass.)
But this article isn’t about forgotten character performers, Christmas specials, or the theory of acting fussy. It’s about the notion of being “busy” at all times of the day, night, or otherwise!
Back in the so-called “good old days” (whenever those were), people existing in domestic society used to live in an perceived era where everything seemed simple. For instance, families would consist consist of a mom, a dad, and the kids. Dad would be off to work serving as the breadwinner, while mom stayed in to take care of the homestead. The kids would go off to school away from home. Dad would be away from the home working in some kind of office-type setting for a fixed amount of hours the entire day. Mom’s day would start by getting the family breakfast.
Once dad and the kids were off to work and school, she would proceed staying in place to get started in household chores, such as cleaning, sorting out household related bills and related invoices, and leaving the house to perhaps go grocery shopping. She might have enough leftover time in catching up on some daytime TV where the three TV networks would usually program some fast paced game show with an occasional light and bright talk program starring such personalities as Gary Moore, Dinah Shore, or Art Linkletter. The soap operas would air later in the afternoon where mom could wind down a bit with the never ending stories the soaps would tell where the plot line would last for weeks, months, and even years! If she was part of some “woman’s group”, perhaps she would be attending a meeting with her said group taking place at a dedicated clubhouse location or at a club member’s home in order to plan and discuss some sort of task reflecting their personal selves, or for some form of worthy and charitable cause.
Meanwhile the kids (usually there was more than one child in the family) would be busy at school for some six and a half hours, only to be released around middle afternoon to cater to their own devices. They would be out hanging around with friends or with their own selves. Then they would come home, perhaps watch some later afternoon TV while mom was getting ready to make dinner. Then dad would arrive home for the said dinner. The rest of the evening would involve more TV. The kids had their homework to so, but they knew they could do their homework while their favorite prime time program would be on the air.
On the weekends, it was more of a different pace. Dad might be working on a do-it-yourself project. Mom may help out, while the kids had the time for themselves. In the evening, they could either be watching more TV as Saturday and Sunday nights has the best TV shows on the air, if not the occasional going out for the evening somewhere! (Mom, Dad, the kids, or a combination of all family members!)
Of course, the above description can be seen as a rather stereotypical and perhaps a cartoon version of how a person’s domestic life was once all about. It may have been performed this way, or perhaps not. In this day and age, everyone feels that they are busier than ever before, always rushing to be somewhere, dashing to get something done, or frantically attempting to be a participant in some activity for the sake of being busy by choice or through circumstance!
This writer is speaking for the times long before the notion of a worldwide pandemic shifted from something experienced in some science fiction tale to being a rather real way of life. Nowadays, people are busy in what they have to do, or maybe not busy enough. Granted, people who were once employed at a fixed location may either be working from home through wired means, or may not be working at all! If one is working via technology, they may feel that they are always in the “on” mode 24/7. For those not in a domain of employment, they are busy through other means such as looking for a new(er) job that is a “job” into itself, or maybe performing in some other domestic task as (paid) employee, gig worker, or as a non-salaried domestic partner, parent figure, caretaker, or a combination of all positions, getting paid for the privilege or not!
And to state that “life was a lot simpler” many years before is a line that’s been quoted and misquoted longer than one may realize. This writer recently came across a c.1962 TV commercial for Wheaties cereal. General Mills hired Bob Richards, who won gold medals in pole vaulting in the 1952 and 1956 Summer Olympics, as a commercial spokesperson for the cereal. (He appeared on the box shortly after his gold medal win in ’56.) In the ad, he makes a pitch about the cereal where it’s easy to serve each morning, even in the current days (then) in a “go-go and hurry-up world!”
When I looked at that commercial, I thought to myself “Go-go and hurry-up world? I though this came from an era where life was suppose to be a lot simple!”
Well, I was right, but only to a point! Yes, perhaps folks were indeed always busy way back when, but in different aspects. It’s true that thanks for technology, people have things to be busy for. When kids once attended school in person, they did have other things to do before and after school. But what they did was based on what they chose to do. After all, hanging around with your friends was being busy. It may not have been constructive, but it was being busy nevertheless.
Parents and/or caretakers seem to have the kids they look after to be involved in crammed activities ranging from the participation in sporting teams, dance classes, or even some activity involving some STEM based function. The reason for this keeping busy is based upon what they parents/caretakers place their kids in! Kids themselves may want to be involved in some activity or event, but won’t necessarily go out of the way for this kind of involvement. After all, they may have a desire in participating in a sport of some type, but they won’t necessarily have access to joining a team or related group event. Kids are still kids and don’t think and act like an adult would, let alone having access to these sort of events!
So in this day and age, are people busy than before? The answer is still yes. It’s just in a different mode. Social media participation causes one to be busy while in a generation before (around the turn of the 21st century for example), social media really didn’t exist! And when it because a novelty to a way of domestic life, most of what’s being done through social media is for one’s personal amusement or for a possible stab of becoming “famous”! Whatever one posts on YouTube or TikTok takes a lot of work! And one has to post new material every day, or even every hour! Facebook grabs a lot of people’s attention as well! And you just gotta Tweet about anything you the tweeter cares about. And maybe your “followers” may care as well! That’s a time grabber, if not a time waster!
So the moral of this story is rather obvious! People are busy, and will be busy for the rest of their times! Just make sure that those bills are paid, those dishes are washed, the dog is walked, and every episode of (name of program) on (name of streaming service) is watched and analyzed on (name of social media portal)! It’s just another day in the life in these busy times!
PS…Before this writer becomes bombarded with requests for an on-line link to see the TV spot mentioned within this article through YouTube, the commercial, along with other commercials featuring Bob Richards for Wheaties, currently exists within my media archive. Yours truly will post nothing from my collection on YouTube unless I own the rights to the material, or I have permission from the rights owner(s) to post the said imagery. If by chance you eventually do find the TV commercial in question, it was placed there by somebody else and not by me! So there!
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