I’m not sure who granted her supreme power over the TV remote, but in our household, my wife has total control over the next streaming series that we are going to watch. My typical reaction to her dictatorial selection is somewhere between spousal defiance and childlike tantrum. To express my dissatisfaction with her choices, I typically opt to multitask my way through the first few episodes by doing dishes, vacuuming, or merely scrolling my phone while I pay half-attention.
No matter how hard I resist, however, I end up sucked in. Every. Time. It’s like she has some sort of magical power to select awesome shows. Or, perhaps I’m just easy to entertain. Whatever it is, it’s really quite annoying.
Of course, I’d never outwardly acknowledge (until now) that she made a great selection. This said, I suspect that seeing me transfixed by the screen is all the affirmation she needs to know that she was right…again.
This is exactly how things played out when she told me that we were going to start watching “The Bear” on Hulu. “Hulu?!?!?,” I said dismissively. “Do we even have Hulu? Does Hulu still exist? If you need me, I’ll be over here aggressively vacuuming.”
By the end of the 3rd episode I was hooked…totally stressed out…but hooked. This show should come with a warning for those with high blood pressure. Whew!
Then, we watched the “Forks” episode - season 2, episode 7. I’m not exaggerating when I say it was the most magnificent piece of television that I’ve seen since the series finale of M*A*S*H.
You know you’ve come in contact with a meaningful piece of art when it sticks with you…when you think about it the next day…and the next. I watched “Forks” over a month ago…and I’m still thinking about it.
So, what did I love about it? Good question. In some ways, it’s a typical transformation story…a story about a disgruntled, troubled, down-on-his-luck restaurant worker (Richie) who is struggling to find his place and purpose in the world. Caution: Spoilers ahead.
At the beginning of the episode you discover that Richie (age 45) was sent to train for a week at the best restaurant in the world - a posh, hyper-exclusive institution with a waiting list of over 5000 guests. Ritchie was less-than-pleased when he discovered that he’d spend his week polishing forks - a task he considered well beneath him.
Over the next 20 minutes of the episode, Ritchie is exposed to several employees. Every interaction is an opportunity for him to see just how passionate these people are about the work they’re doing.
In one interaction, his trainer (Garret) pulls him aside and admonishes him for thinking that polishing forks is beneath him. Garret explains that the restaurant has a waiting list of over 5000 people. And when someone walks through the door, it’s their Superbowl. “So I’m sorry bro, but we need some forks without streaks on them. I don’t need you to drink the Kool Aid…I need you to respect the staff, I need you to respect the diners, and I need you to respect yourself.”
“I can do respect,” Richie replies.
The very next scene is a pre-dinner staff meeting where Richie learns that the restaurant does research on all of their guests. Among the diners that night will be two school teachers. According to one of the teacher’s instagram posts, dining at the restaurant has been a dream of hers and they “have been saving up for this.” The manager then tells the staff that they are to treat the teachers like VIPs - send them caviar and champagne, give them a tour of the kitchen…but, most importantly, “We’re not going to let these people spend a dollar. Do not drop a check, I want to blow their f-ing minds.”
In another scene Richie asks a seemingly overworked employee “How do you do this all day?” Her response: “Because every night I make somebody’s day.”
Throughout the episode, we watch acts of service transform Richie's perspective - not only on the work he’s doing, but also on his life.
I believe the title “Forks” has a dual meaning. Yes, Richie is polishing forks for a good portion of the show. But, his life is also at a crossroads…a fork if you will. He’s either going to continue down a path of anger and self-destruction…or he’s going to take a better path. Spoiler alert: He chose the better one.
The audience gets to see Richie transformed through acts of service. Genuine, considerate acts of service that need no recognition. The joy is not in being acknowledged, the joy is in seeing the smile on someone else’s face.
This 35 minute masterpiece reminded me of times when I’ve had the opportunity to serve others.
Question: When you go out of your way to serve someone, who leaves that transaction feeling better? You, or the person you served? You, of course.
Mahatma Gandhi famously said: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
Now that I’m several pages deep in this email (thanks for sticking with me), you might be wondering why I wanted to share this with you today.
Perhaps it’s because I was emotionally moved by a TV show…a work of art…and I thought you might want to add it to your viewing list.
Perhaps it’s because our aim at ROAD iD is to serve you with excellence. Our team works really hard to put Purpose Over Profit, Be Remark-able, and Care Deeply - all while doing our best to act like real humans - honest to goodness real people that actually care about our customers and the way we do business. It’s entirely possible that I loved this episode so much simply because the team here aspires to deliver a level of service that is similar to the service exemplified in this episode.
Or, perhaps I’m sharing it because I’m inspired by Richie. Perhaps I need to find more intentional and meaningful ways to serve others in my own life.
What if we all spent more time serving others? What would the world look like?
It would be a better place. Period.
Thank you for your time today.
If reading this inspires any thoughts about acts of service, your favorite TV show, or anything really - I’d love to hear them.