Some time back I spent some time wondering aloud about certain things I had noticed or thought about. Things that most other people do not notice or think about. Because if we started getting into the same things everyone notices or thinks about we would become like Facebook – and would there be anything worse than that? So, let’s start with this one . . . .
The photo that got me started on last week’s piece reminded me of something I have wondered about for years, at least intermittently. That photo was of an old car in a junkyard. On the hood of that old car (bonnet for those whose steering wheels are oddly placed) was an old lug wrench. You know, the wrench that is used for
practicing the forbidden parts of your vocabulary changing a tire along the side of the road. What could one possibly notice about a lug wrench? Just this: why is it necessary to ever make another one?
A fresh, new lug wrench has been provided with every new car built since the days of the Ford Model T. With rare exceptions, a spare tire, a jack and a lug wrench have been the kind of thing you take for granted when you drive your new ride out of the dealer for the first time. There are surely many cars that go to the scrapyard on a flatbed with a lug wrench that has been untouched by human hands since it was bolted down by the guy who wondered how many more of these infernal things would he have to install before the end of his shift.
Even for those who frequent roads littered with broken glass and roofing nails, that lug wrench has been used, what, a dozen times? Has anyone in the history of the world actually worn out a lug wrench? You want to save the planet? Stop wasting resources on new lug wrenches and just recycle the fifteen bazillion of them that are already perfectly sound and waiting around for something to do.
Television shows often lead to questions like these. One thing came up when Marianne and I were binging on some series or other. Yes, we do that from time to time. Watching a show at its scheduled time is so 1970’s. Every one of these shows has some kind of intro segment that plays at the beginning of each episode, and every one also has an episode title. Are the people who are responsible for those two things the least appreciated people in the entire Hollywood ecosystem?
The intro, which is usually some music behind a series of random scenes or still shots, was probably a great idea back when you were guaranteed a week between episodes. It had a purpose, which was to give you time to grab a snack and something to drink before your favorite show started. Or to warn you to get the heck out of the room if it was your not-favorite show. Some of them were actually kind of classic, like Hawaii Five-O with the Ventures’ surf music and killer waves juxtaposed against an expressionless, stone-jawed Jack Lord. But now, in an age of streaming, is there any purpose other than to create angst about whether it makes more sense to fast forward through it (and maybe miss the beginning) or to just endure it until the action picks up from where it left off three minutes earlier in the episode you just finished? No, I didn’t think so either.
And just as I figured that the intro-creator was the least valuable person in TV Land, I started to wonder about the writer who has to come up with episode titles. Seriously, can you name me one single episode title? Out of a number of hours spent watching television in my lifetime (a number that I am afraid to estimate for fear that the result will send me slinking off to my bed for a week-long bout of feelings of worthlessness) I cannot recall a single episode title to any show. Ever. Things like “S2 E9” have some value. If a title is really necessary, wouldn’t “Joe Mannix Goes Fishing And Bad Guys Try To Kill Him” be more useful? OK, maybe you could leave off the “Bad Guys Try To Kill Him” part because bad guys tried to kill Joe in every episode of Mannix. But you see where I am going with this. If these are really necessary, I call on the people who run the Emmys to start a category for “Best Titles For A Weekly Episode”. But I don’t see that happening.
The last thing I wonder about is a little nostalgic – do we all remember those days when someone would feel generous and bring a box of donuts into the office? Yes, I miss those days too. But has anyone else noticed how office donut eating etiquette is completely different from home donut eating etiquette? Except for the difference between being fully dressed and being in sweats or a grungy t-shirt, I mean.
When donuts come to the office, there must always be a plastic knife so that everyone can only take a half one. This is especially necessary when the number remaining is down to, say, three. Then things get really serious when there is just one left. At home, the proper method is to take a bite, then yell (with a mouth full of donut) “I’m takin’ the last donut”. Or, if you are the timid sort, change the wording to “Does anyone want the last donut?” This is really just being passive-agressive because of course you take a bite before anyone can answer, but we are not here to solve your interpersonal relationships.
At work, however, there is a dilemma. Is it ever OK to take the last donut? Or are you doing everyone else a favor by taking the last donut? Or is it better to take the plastic knife and take only half of the last donut, leaving the next guy to leave only a quarter, and so on until the thing is too narrow to slice anymore and gets hard because nobody wants just a single bite of a donut. And why is it always the one that has shredded coconut on it?
Laugh if you will, but these are important questions and we would be doing mankind (oops, I don’t think I’m allowed to use this word anymore) a great favor by setting some societal norms here. Or, we could just double or triple the amount of donuts to start with. Once they get to the third day all of these questions just kind of go away.