The Farewell

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Leave it to me to get all sappy about the ending of a TV show…  As you may or may not know, this was the last season for NBC’s The Office.  Eight and something-something seasons later, the show’s finale aired last night.  It didn’t disappoint.

Seinfeld is the last significant television finale still etched in my memory.  Nearly everyone I ever know who watched Seinfeld felt the same annoyance I felt towards its final episode.  How could such an epic Thursday night tradition have ended so poorly?  It still turns my stomach to think about it.

Conversely, The Office couldn’t have ended better.  It left me smiling, laughing, saddened, but most importantly, it resolved the story(and unlike Seinfeld, didn’t leave you wondering if the show you’d watched for so-long might have only been half as good as you remember).  I was one of those few people who followed the show from season one.  Over the last week, I’ve been asking my peers, mostly co-workers, if they happen to watch The Office.  Once again, I’m one of the few.  So nine seasons later, what’s changed?   Now at least everyone knows of or about the show, even if they don’t watch it.

Back in spring 2005, the concept of The Office was new and novel.  It immediately peaked my interest with its documentary feel and character camera interviews (like soliloquies or confessions caught on tape).  And it was about work, and those were the days when I actually felt passion and worth just going to work.

The Office made a second season, and its fandom at my own workplace grew (likely because I was avidly promoting it).  Using my VCR, I would faithfully record the show on Thursdays, and during Fridays’ lunch break, my co-workers and I would bust-a-gut laughing out loud while watching the recording.  Like Miami Vice (Friday nights of my youth), Saturday Night Live (Saturday nights of my youth), and Simpsons (I can’t recall what night of my youth), watching The Office with a group of people makes the experience that much better.  Maybe like in a theatre or cinema, viewers feed off of each other’s emotions and reactions.

TheOfficeUKI’ve watched and appreciate the BBC’s The Office, but not nearly as much as States-side recreation.  Looking at each adaptation of The Office TV show, they differ so much as to practically exist on different planets (not just continents).  The intro scene into the BBC version seems sad, nearly dismal if not depressing, and the intro cinematography makes the show almost look more industrial than about an office.  But credit indeed goes to Ricky Gervais for creating the concept and for getting the whole idea rolling.

So what made The Office different from other television sitcoms?  It was the characters and the setting.  The personalities on the show were both believable and yet over-the-top funny.  So often, the show’s characters could seem so real, down-to-earth, and relatable, while other times you knew the story writers were taking you on some wild goose chase.  And their stories played out in an office space where just about anyone might relate.  Other times, the first person filming of scenes left the viewer actually feeling like part of the cast.Quad_Desk

What will I miss most about The Office?

I’ll miss the emotion that Michael Scott could awake in me–at times I just couldn’t help but root for him because he was the ultimate underdog.  Other times, he would leave me cringing or bubble up with anger.

The cast, while looking more like average folks, rather than Hollywood supermodels, had the ability to capture the viewer’s attention (and often their heart).  At different points in the story, substance rather than superficial made me appreciate each personality for who they were (or developed into).

Watching The Office often ended up being therapeutic… helping me appreciate the quirky nature of working with others, and to realize that the craziest day at my work seldom matched the madness portrayed on the TV show.

A few of my favorite scenes from The Office:

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Quad Desk
Booze Cruise
Lip Dub Intro
Princess Unicorn
Finer Things Club
Dwight’s Concussion
Jim playing Call of Duty
Holly doing Yoda Impression
Michael Scott Paper Company
Death Bus (actually called Work Bus)
Michael Scott’s wearing a Woman’s Suit
Creed coloring his hair black to look younger
Identity Theft — When Jim steels Dwight’s look.
Holly, the new HR person, thinks Kevin is retarded
Andy sings to Angela with backing from the friends on phones
Dropping a water melon from  atop of the building onto the trampoline
Dwight reading the speech Jim wrote for him at the Paper Sales Conference

(and too many more to list)

So after spending nine years tagging along, thanks  for the smiles, stories, and laughs!

Do you have a favorite scene or storyline you related to in The Office?  Leave me a comment 🙂

Being naivE

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Many years ago, when I worked in Parks and Rec, the bottled water craze had newly infiltrated society.  Some coworkers of mine bought into the belief that the tap water they’d been drinking for years was now unhealthy compared to the new bottled water alternatives.  My water-drinking associates even preferred certain brands of bottled water over others because, apparently, certain companies made better tasting water.  Not than anyone here on earth really makes water; It’s more an art involving filtration. To me, it all just tasted like water.

I also think holding bottled water made people feel attractive.  If you compaired a mental snapshot of me drinking water from a tumbler (freshly poured from the tap) to any of my coworkers drinking from one of their branded bottles, 9 times out of 10 times their drinking definitely looked cooler and sexier.  Mind you, most of them were young women, fit life guards, and looked both cooler and sexier than me doing almost anything.

Bottled water also became, dare I say, fashionable?!  A person might stroll into a room, OR that same person might stroll into a room with a bottled water in hand.  Did the person with the bottle look thirsty?  No, not really.  Did they look prepared?  I suppose, but not boy scout overly prepared.   That bottled water portrayed the drinker as enlightened, and made statement that tap water and drinking fountains were unfit for their lips (which reminds me of a movie… but read on).naive

As you may have guessed, bottled water was never important to me.  Sadly for both the world and I, neither was fashion.  At some point, someone brought it to my attention that evian spelled in reverse was naive.  This pretty much solidified in my mind that I would never become a bottled water toting person.  It seemed very naive indeed.

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Being naive was something I hoped not to be. Try as I might, I couldn’t avoid it forever.  In 2000. I moved into a four-plex rental in Edmonton.  The buildings were converted military barracks and had huge backyards without fences.  At the end of the backyard was the community gravel pad for parking, and at the end of my designated parking was this sign that read DUTCH PARKING ONLY.

I’d never heard of the “dutch parking” term .  Did it refer to a method of parking like angle parking?  Maybe it was like going dutch on a date?  I noticed some of the neighbors parked bumper to bumper, two cars deep.  Was that the elusive dutch parking method?  This was Edmonton after all, and I was the new guy.  Maybe along with Edmonton’s crazy traffic circles, dutch parking might have been a unique regional term.

When the property manager stopped by to have me sign some paperwork, I asked her about dutch parking.  She looked confused.  I pointed at the sign and wondered out loud what it meant.  She rolled her eyes and said, “It would be removed if it bothered me that much.”  The light finally went on in my head; it was ethnic humor placed by the previous tenant.  Now I was the one rolling my eyes, but at myself.

While writing about bottled water and being naive, drinking fountains came to mind.  I can actually remember the few drinking fountains in my life that provided reasonable satisfaction.  As a thirsty kid, nothing was more annoying than a drinking fountain that lacked water pressure.  Nobody wanted to suck the water from a public fountain. blah!  I’d rather have kissed a girl.  Later in life, I still rather kiss a gal.

The most memorable drinking fountain movie scene from my youth had to be in Michael J. Fox’s Secret of My Success movie (1987).

I can’t help but smirk at the sappy David Foster tune playing in the background, or how Helen Slater’s hair style looks eerily like Princess Diana, but that was the 80s.  Had the movie been shot two or three years later, I doubt she would have been sipping from the drinking fountain.  I’m guessing it would have been from a plastic bottled water.