-by Andy Dudas January 10, 2020
I’m pushing 50 and rarely bother to make an attempt to stay current with pop culture. I missed the entire run of “The Office(US)” during its initial run. And if it weren’t for Comedy Central beating us to death with it, I doubt I would’ve ever seen it at all. I’d catch half of an episode here and there over the years but I never made any attempt to give it a chance. I found it funny and it was a nice distraction from time to time but until we watched the entire run on Netflix I didn’t really know what I was missing.
John Krasinski’s enormously appealing every-man “Jim Halpert” and Jenna Fischer’s sincerely charm filled “Pam Beesly” brought together what I feel is the best on screen couple I will ever see.
The show from the outset was brilliant(and no, I’ve never seen the the UK version). What made the show and the cast feel legitimate was these were people you know. Real people with which we’ve all worked for and beside our whole lives. While “Seinfeld” might possibly be the best sitcom of all time, these weren’t real people…they were characters or at least they felt like it. “Friends” was great, but does anyone really think Phoebe would’ve been in their lives? Or that Rachel Greene just magically landed a job working for Ralph Lauren? “The Dick Van Dyke” show…those were real people.
While Rainn Wilson’s “Dwight Schrute” was over the top, I know that guy. Oscar and Ryan and even Todd Packer…those are all real guys. What may be the most telling about our household was how much we loved Angela’s judgement of EVERYTHING. But what stood out to us most were Jim and Pam. From the early days of flirting from across the office to their troubles when things were strained in their marriage, they all felt like real people. That’s why the show was so good, and it never really jumped the shark.
That Pam was stuck with Roy, a guy who had no interest in her at all, and at the same time had no outlet for her art and creativity(damned Party Planning Committee) only for Jim to come along and ultimately be the champion of her pursuits and give her the respect she(or any human) deserved.
Jim and Pam stand as reminders about what love is supposed to be. Love shouldn’t be a series of sacrifices and looking the other way. Life and love should be shared. A relationship not built on respect and fueled only by “what can you do for me” isn’t love, that’s bartering. I don’t want to trade my “this” for your “that.” A personal relationship shouldn’t be seen as an exchange of goods and services.
Jim and Pam were each working in a place in which they landed. They didn’t trek to these jobs. As children they weren’t saying, “I can’t wait to find a job that my skills and desires are squashed into a hole to never be realized.” Sadly, most of us end up in those jobs. I did for 25 years. If all you are earning from your place of employment is a paycheck…that’s a hard way to live and you’ll rarely feel satisfied. There will be some good days. There will be days when you feel legitimately useful and “I did a good job today.” But in the end, I suspect, you’ll want more out of your job than money. You want your life to have a meaning. Very few people get those two things to line up. You may settle on a job but don’t settle on your life.
And that’s perhaps the first thing Jim and Pam had in common. They hated their lives. They were in a place that was destroying them. I doubt very seriously if Jim would’ve pranked Dwight to that extent if he was living a fulfilled life. And who among us thinks Roy would’ve gotten the time of day from Pam if she felt like she had any real options in life?
They settled. Jim settled. Pam settled. Like so many of us, they settled in to what felt like the best of all the terrible options their lives had to offer them. I spent 42 years of my life feeling much more like a failure than I ever felt like I was succeeding. Like Jim and Pam, I did the best I could. Living a life that more often than not tells you “you’re good, but not good enough” is a hard way to live.
Jim’s relationship with Dwight ended up being this terrific side arc to the show. To know in the end, at their core they really did care for each other was so warmly satisfying. Jim’s such a sweetheart of a human being, you knew there was never any malice behind his actions. Dwight, over time was won over by Halpert’s boyish smiles and shoulder shruggs. Like everyone else, Dwight loved Jim too. Even Stanley who didn’t like anything(except being left alone), in the end knew Jim was a good guy. Jim just needed a little incentive to realize the life he saw for himself. He knew who he wanted to be and he found that in Pam. Jim couldn’t live a fulfilled life without Pam.
Pam’s involvement with Roy was hard to watch. We’ve seen enough TV shows to know, Jim and Pam would end up together, but her time with Roy was just gross. He had no idea who she was and wanted to be, nor did he make any real attempts to find out. He was living a small life and was satisfied doing so. Does someone have to visit Paris to truly expand their horizons? Of course not but the desire to see beyond your own world is worthy. But let’s face it: Roy was written simply. A blue collar guy whose desires were very if not entirely basic. My point isn’t that those who live their lives this way are wrong but rather his character was built to be finite and those are people who will stop your life from growing. A person living in a box will put you in that box. And what’s worse, they will put you in their box. So even living that small life, you’re aren’t living small the way in which you want but rather living small the way they want..
With Jim, Pam’s world was open. Pam now wanted to try. Roy is a person who isn’t interested in growth. Roy cares only about what is while Pam is interested in what could be. In the end, Roy’s not a bad guy and I don’t even think it’s his fault their relationship was what it was. Roy and Pam were not built for each other. In order for Roy to feel about himself the way Pam felt about herself while with Jim, Pam was not that person for Roy. There are times in our lives when no matter how much hard work we put in and with the best of intentions, we still fail. Those failures however, shouldn’t lead you to a place of “this is my life and I chose it and I’m here until I die.” Recognition of your failures shouldn’t be seen as a sign of the end but rather an indication of the potential for growth and new opportunities.
I, for a lot my life was Roy. I didn’t really much think about tomorrow, at least not in real terms. Over my lifetime I’ve upset and disappointed too many people to count. I brought qualities to the table but never the right ones. I, for the most part was dependable but the occasions in my life where I fell short of others’ expectations…I have no excuses. This is who I am. I believe the reputations we have in this world are fairly earned. If I succeed or fail, it should be on my terms and based on my actions. So through that lens, we are all Roy to someone. Placing expectations on someone is setting them up to fail.
I don’t want to live small. I don’t want to worry about things that affect only me. I want my next steps to be made with enough forethought so my ensuing steps lead me somewhere and I want that place to be filled with optimism. I want that place to allow room for failure and bring with it the encouraging voice of “you’ll get’em next time.” I want my world to include not exclude. I too, found my Pam…except her name is Amy. And all of these things I have in her.
Andy has interests varying from painting and singing, to photography and prop making. Pretty much anything that has a creative element. Amateur status in all endeavors, he finds art everywhere he looks. Always seeking his next inspiration.