Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Out of work genie

Take me down to paradise city where the grass is green and the girls are pretty. Oh, won't you please take me home...
Guns N' Roses - Paradise City lyrics

Visiting the bagel shop this morning I started talking with a older man who I first met the day before. I friendly asked him “How was your day yesterday?” He answered “ohh, I survived”. So, I asked him if he could think of one thing that happened yesterday that was nice and he said “nothing”. “Really?” I responded. “Was there not one thing yesterday you liked?” “Nothing” he said, “ days kinda go in and out.”

I asked him what would make today a great day, and he said “waking up tomorrow”. So I asked him, if you could get anything you wanted (next to waking up tomorrow), what would it be that would make today great? His answer was “nothing”. Here Mark pitched in with “yeah, Iris is very good at wishing parking spaces and weather, and getting what else she wants”. So, I asked him, "if  you could ask for anything you wanted to make today great, would there be something you would ask for?" His answer was again “nothing”. "But what if it would be something like your favorite food or a phone call from someone special?" I responded. "No, nothing" he responded.

Then another man, who looked to be around Mark’s age, pitched into the conversation. “Yeah, when you are a single man like me just ending up on the couch with a beer at the end of the day is all you are looking forward to”. I responded with the question “when you would be able to ask for anything you wanted to make the day special, like you would do with a genie in a bottle, what would you wish in that situation?”. The answer was again “nothing”. (I had a hard time imagining a man in his fifties with nothing to wish for... but hey, here he was...)

I answered that this would mean that the genie would be out of work, which was answered with complete silence and which ended our conversation. The 50-year-old ran of to do his jolly day and while enjoying my tea I realized again how we create our own world. I was sitting in a bagel shop enjoying the best bagel ever, taking with people that inspired me to write this blog and a song, looking forward to what next to come today, while my neighbor’s biggest excitement would be waking up tomorrow or drinking a beer at the end of the day.

When the older man left, I said “remember, this could be your best day ever!” and he responded “where is the complaint department?”.

In this area along the Jersey shore I see more BMWs, Audi’s, and Porsches then anywhere else I have ever been. A lot of the houses you see are more like little castles and all the gardens are meticulously groomed, just like their owners. It seems like a movie, unreal. But it is amazingly real and it could be such a paradise.

But every time I meet people, like in the supermarket, the restaurants or during my breakfast at the bagel shop, I am surprised by how much unhappiness there is. People are complaining about the three people in front of them in line, cashiers are complaining about the boss, others have no wishes anymore for life in general or proudly wear shirts that say things like “Irish Yoga”.

Genie for two hours

This experience make me think about my next week’s visit and what I could do to get a smile on the faces of the people having breakfast with me. Mark and I ended up brainstorming about a “genie for two hours program” that we could start back at home. The genie would offer two hours of personal time to help someone else. It could be helping at home, doing some groceries, making a meal, wash the car, help with phone calls or the computer etc.

The genie may be out of work in New Jersey, I am sure the genie would be embraced in the beautiful berkshires!

Let me rub the bottle and wish "please, take me home!"

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