Nothing is funnier than ego served up with a healthy dose of arrogance. I love this video (yes, this guy is for real). There is a great quote floating around on facebook today; "Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on it's ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid." -Albert Einstein. That seems to sum it up perfectly - why I had to quit trying to compete with others, especially with guys like Joel Bauer. Rather than coming up with another impressive business card I was inspired by the characters in this cartoon to create a simple "thank you" card.
At Vistaprint.com they are FREE to have made; the only cost was the $5.67 for shipping. And one of the standard layouts Vistaprint.com offers leaves a space for a short note, a unique drawing or autograph. Although I don't know if that was the intended purpose for the space, it works for me. All I had do to was type the phrase, "Thank You," in the space provided for my name and title.
The truth is I am much happier and seem to attract more success when I'm thanking people who impress me rather than trying to impress them.
Growing up in New Jersey, Memorial Day was a big deal. We were all taught what the day signified, but as a kid it really meant the beginning of the summer and the first weekend at the Jersey Shore. It was well worth sitting in the traffic on the Garden State Parkway and listening to my father’s frustration as he smoked his cigar to get there. Today what I enjoy remembering is the sound of the wheels on the boardwalk. You know, the wheels that have numbers, symbols, and words like, Mom, Pop, Lucky, and Son, painted on them. They were called “Wheels of Chance.”
You would place your quarter on a corresponding, word, number or symbol that was on a long counter and in front of you was a small little metal push button, once the button was depressed a giant pointer mounted to the center of the wheel would start spinning. Then, when you felt the moment was right, you would depress the little button again to stop the motor and if the pointer landed on your word, number or symbol, you won! If not, your quarter, along with all the others, was swept down to the end of the counter where they all fell through a slot and clanked as they landed in the container underneath. It’s the sound of the pointer spinning and picking up speed that I miss. A zwirling sound, made by the combination of the motor propelling it and the clicking of its little rubber tip as it brushed along the metal posts that lined the circumference of the wheel. I love that sound! Just thinking of that zwirling sound brings up good feelings of enthusiasm and anticipation. Living in California, I miss that sound.
Recently, while on a trip back to New Jersey I brought along my video camera in order to capture that sound. I was inspired to mix it with music when I got back to Los Angeles. My wife came along to photograph the sights. We went to Point Pleasant. I chose Pt. Pleasant because it was the place where I spent the greatest summer of my childhood. I was 14 and my father left me in the hands of his bachelor buddy Willie, who owned a couple of stands on the boardwalk, which included one with a “wheel.” My dad would come down on weekends when he could. I earned my keep working the stands and cleaning up the house for Willie and the rest of his buddies who would end up staying there during the summer. Soon I was trusted to run the stands, mainly because Willie would rather have fun than worry about the business. I admired him for that. It was the first time in my life that I was truly on my own and responsible for adult things, it was as if these guys didn’t even notice I was only 14, I was treated like one of the gang. Now I was excited to show it all to my wife and since she is a professional photographer I would finally have some pictures to remember the place by.
Once we got to the boardwalk, I intentionally picked a stand no one else was playing and where the odds were stacked against me to get the audio I wanted. There must have been over 1000 words, symbols and numbers on this wheel. You see, the odds all depended on the size of the gift. Some wheels only had four items on them, much better odds, but the gifts were much cheaper and the wheel didn’t spin as fast or for as long. The stand I chose had tremendous odds because the gifts were top of the line battery propelled scooters. But this day winning wasn’t a consideration, getting the loudest and longest audio recording that best represented what I recalled was. I felt a little uncomfortable asking the kids running the stands to spin the wheel just so I could record the sound. So I placed my video camera on the counter, put my money down to play, (now a dollar), pressed the record button on the camera and then the little metal button on the counter. With my recorder going, the sound of the wheel zwirling around and around went perfectly; starting slowly, picking up speed, really spinning and then I depressed the button again and the wheel began to wind down slowly then to a stop. What the? It stopped on my symbol! A blue club! I couldn’t believe it, the girl at the stand wearing one of those headset microphones broadcast loudly through a PA system, “We have a winner, the first lucky winner of the day!” Just like I used to do when someone would win, only without the PA system.
Right at that moment Lori showed up and I told her, “I won!” Caught up in the excitement I looked over the prizes and asked her what should I get? This seemed a little strange because I had no use for a motorized scooter. So still excited I shifted gears and asked her who should we give one to? We started going through the list of nephews and nieces, carefully considering who deserved such a tremendous gift, who didn’t, and why, along with concern of how the other nieces and nephews would feel if they weren’t chosen.
Meanwhile, a young boy, about 12 or 13 years old, walked up to the stand and began asking the girl operating it questions. He was holding a dollar in his hand. I could tell he was deciding whether or not to play. He asked the classic, “Does anybody win?” And unfortunately for him I was standing right there and the girl responded, “He just won.” Then he asked me how many tries it took? I told the truth, “That was my first try.” This didn’t feel that great cause I knew where it was going. He asked what I was going to pick and I let him know I wasn’t sure yet.
While I was answering his questions and he was telling me how if he won he would get the electric scooter because he had one but his mom ran over it, my wife was standing between us with her back to him and facing me. She started “signaling” me, you know, like wives do when they want to tell you something extremely important and urgent but don’t want anyone else to know. “Give it to him, give it to him,” she was whispering and signaling. I was in that in-between state of talking with the boy while trying to make sense of her signals. This is where it becomes obvious to everyone around that my wife is “signaling” me, and it usually makes her mad. “Really?” I said to her out loud. “Yes!” she said, like I was a bozo, which I can be more often than not, “who are we going to give it to? He’ll love it.” I got the message.
I asked the boy, “What one would you pick?” “I’d get the black one.” I turned to the girl working the stand and said, “Give him the black one.” The boy was oblivious and was telling Lori the details on how his mom ran over his skateboard when the girl presented him with the brand new one in the box. He was in shock. He asked me why I didn’t want it and told me that I could have a lot of fun with it. I said I was too old and he would have way more fun than me. Then he offered me his dollar since that is how much I used to play. I declined and the last thing he said was, “Thanks, wow!”
He walked away and as I watched him, Lori said, “you just made his summer.” And that became the best summer I ever had at the shore as an adult thanks to an idea to record a memory, an unexpected stroke of luck, a young boy just starting out, and a nudge from a loving wife with way more insight than I.
"There are givers and there are takers in the world, and the givers are the ones having all the fun!" -Unknown
Saturday morning while I prepared to take a light jog through downtown Culver City, I had the crazy idea of taking tourists on a “wicked” one hour walking tour through the scandalous history of the “Heart of Screenland.” It made perfect sense since I enjoy sharing the darker side of our show biz town whenever friends drop by. I enjoyed the thought for a moment. Then reality seeped in and the idea of organizing, publicizing and being responsible for such an endeavor seemed like more of a burden than fun. So I picked up where I left off - headed out the door and started my jog.
I made my way downtown and as I turned the corner at the old Culver Hotel I twisted my ankle. For a moment I thought maybe it just needed a minute and it’d be OK but as soon as I put weight on it again the pain was excruciating. "Oh well, nothing happens by mistake." I thought. It’s obvious I won’t be continuing with my jog. So I wondered what’s in store for me now? As I limped over to the fountain next to the hotel honoring Leo, the MGM lion, a happy young Indian couple caught my eye. They were standing in the plaza referring to what looked like a map of Culver City landmarks. Then they'd look up and around and back down at their landmark map. I hobbled over to them and asked, “Are you on some sort of scavenger hunt?”
“Yes” they replied cheerfully. “It was offered on Groupon, we thought it’d be fun, this is the first time they’ve done one in Culver City.”
Now that I was closer I got a much better look at their map. It was a series of 4” x 8” cards held together with a ring. Each with card had clues on them, some where in the form of a question like riddles, some had photographs, others gave nearby landmark hints. Most of these I knew so I asked, “Are you having any trouble with finding some of these? Cause I live here and know just about everything that's in Culver City.”
I am so glad I asked. Soon we were having a great time together. I was enjoying solving the riddles with them and adding whatever interesting trivia I knew regarding each of the landmarks we identified.
“We should have you join us, we’d win for sure!” said the young lady with a big smile.
After deciphering a couple more riddles we went our separate ways. But before I left they insisted I take a photo with them and said that they were going to dedicate this scavenger hunt to me. Their names were Eldhose and Pinku. In our short time together I learned that the young couple grew up in India and met through, as they put it, “the Indian version of Match.com.” They explained how their parents found them for each other “but the decision to get married was ours to make.” Three years later they still seem like newlyweds.
I told them about the crazy idea I had before my run, how I was happy I got to live it out in this unique way with them and that if it weren’t for me spraining my ankle it would have never happened.
“It was serendipitous!” said Eldhose.
Thank you, Eldhose & Pinku for being all the proof I need that; in my world, nothing ever goes wrong.
*Right as I finished writing this Eldhose sent me an unexpected Facebook message to ask how I was and to let me know that he and Pinku are going to be doing another "CityRace" urban adventure hunt. One more coincidence, and reassurance, that I'm in the right place doing the right thing, right now.
This is just the reminder I needed today to complete a brochure I have been putting off for the exact reason that Paul Arden's advice is the prescription for. And if that weren't enough of a nudge I got another "coincidental" kick in the shins when I open today's Daily Word. It reads:
"I greet life's opportunities with increasing confidence. When a baby is learning to walk, the spills outnumber the successful steps. Early falls are important to the baby's process of learning to keep his or her balance. The stumbling doesn't discourage the baby."
It's time to start stumbling full steam ahead.
This morning my friend, Ed Biagiotti, was having trouble getting started. His son didn't want to go to school. Ed felt himself getting frustrated but rather than attempting to intimidate his son into compliance, he instead stepped outside onto his porch, took a deep breathe, and said, "Thank you."
Soon he felt relieved of the burden of trying to force his will and things seemed to unravel themselves; father and son were moving forward. Ed finished sharing his experience with me by saying, "Life's too short to say anything but 'Thank you.'"
Now that's the best thing I've heard in a long time. Thanks Ed! This one (cartoon) is all your fault.
All the fun without the struggle.