Time at The Office


By far the best aspect of being alive at this time in history is the ability to watch nine years of a sitcom in about a month. And so it came to pas that I spent Sunday binge watching The Office (U.S). This also satisfies my tendency of falling on trends about seven years after everyone else.

The Office is one of the pioneers of mockumentary style sitcom, which masterfully combines quirky characters, improvisation, and cringe humor to a level that is painful to watch and yet irresistible.

I am now finally getting jokes people have been making for about thirteen years concerning The Office, I’m on The Office Memes on Facebook, and I say “That’s what she said!” about three times a day. But most of you have been there and you have done that. This is Harry Potter all over again.

In the last episode one of the show’s most annoying characters, Andy Bernard, is giving an interview. Andy Bernard constantly talks about his glory days as an A Capella singer at Cornell University. If he’s not doing that, he’s talking about a future goal. He is so lost in past nostalgia and future pipe dreams that he is often lost on what’s happening in the present situation. In his final interview he mentions how he now works at Cornell University, which is what he has always wanted, but he finds himself constantly talking about his “good old days” which is now his friends from The Office. It is this annoying character who then makes the entire series’ most poignant observation: “I wish there was a way to know you were in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.”

I suppose this struck a chord for a couple of reasons. First off, nostalgia can be one tricky siren. We often review the past with rose colored glasses, exaggerating the positives of the situation (freedom, friends, fewer responsibilities), while editing out the bad aspects (no money, no stability, loneliness). I think it’s very human to long for the days of yore.

Conversely, determined young people tend to see the prize down the road, such as money, cars, stability, career, or a house. Drive and goals are good things to have in life, but perhaps they trick us into only viewing the present time and place as a stepping stone to something else. We sometimes forget that there is a lot to learn, love, and enjoy in the present. And if we think too much about the future the present disappears.

I am not so much a glory days kind of guy as a what’s up ahead kind of dude, which goes hand in hand with my natural anxiety. My work week begins Sunday afternoon, not Monday morning. I put my head down and push through Monday and Tuesday in order to get to Thursday and Friday, and sometimes I have to think hard to remember my early week classes. It’s a calculus that could end a guy up singing Andy Bernard’s blues.

I am no guru, but I know I don’t want to be that person and I have taken steps to address it. I try not to think ahead too much and sometimes even pause and say something like “This is a great time in your life. Enjoy it, you schmuck!” I do not recommend saying it aloud on a tram, though, because people will give you a look.

This Sunday, which included an hour stolen by Mr. Daylight Savings, I combated my typical Sunday blues by ignoring work. I didn’t look at my calendar or a lesson plan. I didn’t prepare a class or write this blog. I had a Sunday when I only watched a show and ordered Thai food. With one or two moments of anxiety, I enjoyed the day from beginning to end.

It occurs to me that perhaps one way I combat Look Ahead Fever is by jumping on trends that are seven years old. Harry Potter. The Office. I’d look forward to checking out Game of Thrones, but I’m trying to avoid doing that and live in the present. Which is pretty damn hard.

That’s what she said.

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