Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sorry, Charlie

We were watching an episode of Bramwell on TV when, during a dieing scene the soon-to-be deceased reached out to his friend and pleaded, "Sorry Charlie!" And, of course, I burst out laughing.

For those who aren't as old as I, there used to be a tuna fish commercial in which a fish named Charlie kept trying to get caught by StarKist. His attempts were always spurned with a pronounced, "Sorry, Charlie." Indicating he just wasnt' good enough to meet StarKist's "lofty" standards.

It's startling how our culture influences how we think. So much so that in a death scene of a serious drama, an unintentional punch line changed everything for me.

None of our lives go unifluenced by the experiences we've had. My friend Curg told me today of an experience he had in California last week. He dreads California. So many indifferent, self absorbed people all smashed into one large self-gratifying society. He has family there, so he endures it two or three times a year. On this trip, he wanted to take a friend to LA's China Town, but got lost. Driving around, hoping to reorient himself, he was pulled over by one of Los Angeles' finest. Oh, boy, another example of why, we hate LA.

The LAPD officer approached his window and asked, "Are you lost?"

"Why yes, how could you tell?"

"Utah plates and slow uncertain driving."

"Where did you wish to go?"

"China Town."

"Just follow me, I'll show you."

Instant paradigm shift. Curg remained in Southern California for another week, during which his attitude was bright and positive and shocking to his wife. When she asked what was going on, he could only say that one solitary nice person had changed his whole view of the place!

If, "by small means the lord can bring about great things" (1 Nephi 16:29), perhaps so can we.

I once had an experience with a church hymn, that made it difficult to avoid laughing hysterically whenever it was sung. It is a wonderful hymn, full of meaning and inspiration. I hated that my experience had spoiled it for me. I've shared the experience a few times only to spoil the hymn for others as well. As time has passed, I've made an effort to disassociate the experience and the hymn. I've been pretty successful, but it has taken a lot of time and effort. Like my experience with Charlie the Tuna, it is difficult not to be effected by it, even long after the exposure.

I think I'm going to be more careful about the things I say and do, that might taint others' mortal experience for bad. I think I'm going to be more thoughtful about being more curteous and helpful, like that LA Cop.

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