Saturday, October 01, 2005

This American Life

Amy & I are admitted NPR goobers. One of our favorite rituals before Amy got pregnant was to come home from work, cook dinner and talk about our day. While we did that, NPR would be on the radio on in the background. At times we listened to the news to try to get a full perspective of what was going on in the world. Other times we listened to the funny, quirky entertainment programs. One of those programs is called This American Life. The show is simple -- real experiences and observations from everyday people. Some are funny like the policeman's story of where he nearly burned down someone's house trying to get a squirrel out of their attic and living room; some are serious like the man's story of spending 20 years in jail for a crime he didn't commit. So while our days of unwinding without distraction from two little 5 1/2 month olds are fewer and far between, we do still get the occasional moment where we can relax with an old pasttime.

Last night I got the chance to listen to the show while cooking a late dinner. The theme of the pieces on the show was 'Getting and Spending,' what people do to get money and what they do with it once they get it. One of the segments turned into a discussion of doing something you never thought you would, or becoming "That Guy" you said you would never be. I immediately connected to this as I have had to eat crow many times over as I've gotten older (see exhibit #1).

The "That Guy" segment goes through several examples of people's experiences as they fight everyday conformities and eventually succumb to them. And they're funny -- from the guy who won't buy Mitchum deodorant because of the ad campaign to the guy who refuses the convenience of wheeled luggage in an airport. It hit home with me with the example of cellphones as for the longest time I was the guy who held out because I didn't want to be like everyone else.

You were never going to be that guy yapping on his cellphone, but now you are. But why? Because at this point the only reason not to have a cellphone is to be that guy who refuses to join the club, which isn't cool.

After listening I realized 1) I love hearing other people's experiences as they go through these same realizations, and 2) knowing when to stop swimming upstream against the current is a good thing to know.

Here is the audio link if anyone is interested. The segment starts around the 36 minute mark so you can scroll forward to there to hear it.

Act Two. That Guy. This American Life Producer Diane Cook investigates that moment when you realize you've become "that guy" you've always hated, and how the simple act of purchasing deodorant can lead to that moment. (9 minutes)


--That Guy

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