July 12, 2020
No One EVER said Michael or Dwight …
Ten or so years ago, I had the absurd notion to convert my incredibly insightful commentaries into incredibly insightful speeches. Over a period of 15+ months I spoke to close to 100 civic clubs across North Carolina… and one epic disaster in Rapid City South Dakota.
I envisioned myself a modern day Don Quixote roaming the countryside slaying pompous dragons (i.e. windmills) with my rapier wit and charm. A reincarnation of the late Lewis Grizzard or Mark Twain or Will Rogers. Why not Me?
I wasn’t awful. I did hit a few “homers” … and a lot of routine fly balls. I earned all those pens and letter openers and paperweights and birdhouses (Rocky Mount Kiwanis). But I wasn’t good enough. I realized it.
If you’re playing for the Class A DownEast Wood Ducks and hitting .240 sure, you ARE playing “pro ball” … but you ain’t gonna make it to The Big Show. As my old friend Harper Cooper might say. Wishin’ ain’t gonna make it so, Shoeless Joe.
You hear about wannabee novelists who get 100+ rejection letters. One day an intern at Simon & Schuster happens upon their manuscript and VOILA! … move over Harper Lee and Margaret Mitchell. For every one of those there are 10,000 neverbees who go on to be accountants and produce managers at Whole Foods and Uber drivers … and Internet Legends.
NOTE: Did You Know That: Among all those misfit toys with BLM and ANTIFA … tearing down statues and screaming the joys of Marxism and yelling “F-You” to America … less than 1% of’em have ever heard of Lewis Grizzard, Mark Twain, Will Rogers, Harper Lee or Margaret Mitchell?
Not sure how that correlates, but it’s interesting. Don’t you think?
Those 15 or so months “on the speaking circuit” were not in vain. We still have those Kiwanis birdhouses … and I have a bunch of boffo self-effacing column fodder. Like today’s …
I saw a Facebook post this week that did NOT further convince me to get “off the grid” as quickly as possible. Such posts are getting harder to find.
This guy on Facebook posted he was binging old episodes of The Office. That cringe-worthy peek into the inane humdrummery of corporate America that ran from 2005 to 2013.
Compared to Seinfeld in its portrayal of the mind-numbing reality of so much of American Life. The Office was the Scranton PA regional office of the fictional Dunder-Mifflin paper company.
The characters were as “true to life” dingy as Jerry & Friends … but I compare The Office more to Mary Tyler Moore’s WJM … or WKRP in Cincinnati … or Boston Legal. Everyone who watched any of those “knew” some or all of the character-types in the show.
Every TV station has “a Ted Baxter” … every radio station has “a Herb Tarlick and a Les Nessman” … et al. Does every law firm have “a Denny Crane”?
NOTE: If you’ve never seen The Office … you won’t “get” any of the next few paragraphs.
A rhetorical question I would pose to my civic club audiences was…
“Which character(s) on The Office do YOU identify with …
i.e. could be you?”
I would NOT ask for a show of hands. I would pause and gaze around the room. Then add…
“Studies show that 96% of you are quite certain you are “Jim”… or “Pam” for you ladies.”
“Jim” and “Pam” were – of course – the two “normal” characters in the ensemble. Jim and Pam recognized the insanity of the lunatic asylum where they worked. Jim and Pam endured the insanity for the same reasons most of us have done so at stages of our careers.
The Catch-22 is so long as you realize it IS an insane environment you have not “become insane” yourself.
I then asked…
“If you all are Jims & Pams … Where are all the “Michaels and Dwights”?”
“Michael” and “Dwight” were the most over-the-top dingbat characters at Dunder-Mifflin.
Everyone in every audience where I posed these questions admitted they KNEW “Michaels & Dwights”. Everyone had worked for or with several “Michael & Dwights” over the years.
But THEY certainly were not “like them” at all.
I would conclude with …
“Somewhere there is a roomful of Michaels and Dwights
… all of whom truly believe they too are Jims and Pams.”
I would gaze around the room again. The closet Michaels and Dwights would glare back at me … They Knew I Knew they were Michaels and Dwights.
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