Friday, April 14, 2017
"This is Us" Episode Teaches Us to Slow Down; I Wish I Could Talk to My Neighbors
photo credit : By Ralf Roletschek - Own work, GFDL 1.2, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=52691236
If you haven't caught the NBC show "This Is Us" yet, you should. Last time I looked, Spectrum [my cable company ] had the entire first season on their On Demand list. The second season hasn't started yet, so there is still ample time to catch up.
If you are familiar with the show, you can skip this paragraph. If not, allow me to give a quick orientation. The show is about a couple who has triplets. Well, not really in a technical sense; you see, one dies at birth, and they now have a set of twins, or ⅔ of a set of triplets. But on the day of their birth, into the hospital comes a fireman with a baby who was abandoned at his firehouse. The abandoned baby is African-American, while the couple and their two fraternal "twins" -- one female and one male-- are white. The couple decides to take home the African-American baby to complete their intended trio. Besides, the wife has knitted three "onesies" which sport the words "big three" for the babies to wear home from the hospital. And one could say it was fate that a fireman has dropped off an abandoned baby just when they lost one. You could say it was meant to be.
Fast forward to the present. Roland [the formerly abandoned triplet, now all grown up], has recently located his biological dad William. William is dying of cancer, so Roland and his wife take him in to their home. After a few weeks, William dies and Roland and his family give William a proper sendoff. Fortunately, Roland and William have bonded and thus made William's final days fulfilling and rewarding.
At the funeral, Roland receives a box of pears from his employers at the financial firm where he has worked for decades, and where he has been disillusioned of late by his boss' admiration of a younger newer millennial hire. Roland has been disgusted by his firm's shoving-aside and lack of respect for him lately. Then, they show almost total disregard for his recent bereavement. And, as icing on the cake, they know he is allergic to pears, and a box of them has been their only acknowledgment of Roland's loss. But then, Roland gets a pleasant surprise: the mailman comes to make his daily delivery and Roland meets him at the door. The mailman then gives Roland his condolences and tells Roland that he will miss William. You see, as Roland comes to find out, every morning William would take a nice long walk around the neighborhood. And, every morning he would stop and have a conversation with the mailman, which the mailman now tells Roland he will miss very much. In just a few weeks, he has made an impact. Roland realizes that he has had the same mailman for years and never learned his name [William has] and has never said more than a passing hello to his longtime mailman . You can watch the gut-wrenching scene by clicking here
So the following day, Roland marches into his office and resigns. But before he does, he gives them an earful. First of all, he walks in on a very important meeting at which his boss and the aforementioned underling are present, but to which Roland has not been invited. So Roland tells them that he has loyally given his life to this firm and all they could do to offer condolences upon his father's death, was to send a box of pears, a fruit they KNEW he is allergic to. When his boss asks Roland where he is going now, Roland says something to the effect of "I don't know. Maybe I'll take a little time off. Maybe I'll take a nice slow and long walk in the morning. Maybe I will stop and talk to the mailman". Needless to say, the men in the meeting all have perplexed looks on their faces. But we the viewers know exactly what he means. He has been so wrapped up in his job and giving it his free time, that he doesn't even know the man who has been delivering mail to his home every day for the last umpteen years. And they didn't even take the time to acknowledge a life-changing event in his life.
How many of us have done the same thing? How many of us have been so wrapped up in our lives and the hectic-ness, we don't even notice what is around us? I knew a lady whom I worked with, who had ovarian cancer. She said to me before she died "We don't take time to smell the flowers". I would like to take the time -- now that spring is finally here -- to smell the flowers, hear the birds sing, and watch the people in my neighborhood and even in my building whose names I don't know. I wish I could speak without people running away and putting a frightened look on their faces. Once I tried to ask my FEDEX man if he had a package for me. He turned to me and yelled "What the hell is your problem?" I wish people were not so afraid of what they don't understand. And I wish I could still have a conversation and meet the neighbors who have moved into my building in the last 13 years.