Lost Dog, Help Wanted and “Rocket Man”

People are interesting. I know that seems obvious, but it took me years to figure out that everyone has a story, and no one’s story is boring. I might not want to hear the stories sometimes, but I can’t deny that each person has a right to share it. And some people tell their stories more….colorfully…than others.

This American Life is one of my favorite radio shows. It is produced (I think that’s the term) by Chicago Public Radio, but I listen to it on WUNC (90.9 here in eastern NC). The premise is simple, but oh-so-hard-to-describe. I can say that the show is an hour of stories about everyday people in dramatic situations, but that doesn’t begin to catch the appeal. So I’ve included a link to the episode this blog is discussing. You can read the synopsis of the show and listen to it for free. Do so. You owe it to yourself.

\”Classifieds\” by This American Life (Chicago Public Radio)

In this particular show, which originally aired in 2002 and was replayed this past Saturday, host Ira Glass explores the stories behind ads taken out in the classified sections of the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Reader. I am not going to summarize the show here, because you can read that on the link, but I am going to share some thoughts about what I heard.

First, I never thought of the classifieds as windows into personal lives – the endings and beginnings, the stops and starts along life’s path. Life is bigger than the small glimpses we get into the existence of strangers.

Secondly, Leo the locksmith is an intriguing man. Leo is searching for his stolen dog, Isis. He made me think a bit. According to Leo, he is a locksmith because that is his way of maintaining the status quo.  I guess that makes sense, but I am (as always) disturbed about a blue collar worker, who professes himself that he doesn’t have much, working to keep things the way they are.

Leo’s intensity in his search is a bit unnerving to me during this story, but I can’t figure out exactly what feels off about it. Lord knows I tried all kinds of avenues when my pit bull was stolen – including trying to contact our local dog fighting subculture (failed at that, big surprise) – but I never thought of placing an ad saying Lazarus had a communicable disease and I had the antidote. Could someone PLEASE listen to that segment (it is only 5 minutes long and occurs within the first 20 minutes of the show) and give me your take?

Thirdly, why can’t I find a Jungian taxi driver who plays the flute? My last taxi driver was an asshole. Of course, I’ve only had two, unless you count the tuk-tuk drivers in Sri Lanka.

By the way, in Act Three, which Thirdly thought is about, Producer Starlee Kine and musician Jon Langford throw together a band from random musicians looking for a band through the classifieds. They get together for one day and play “Rocket Man” (Elton John, of course). The mix of musicians is crazy, and the result is incredible. You can even download a copy of their version for $.95 from the above link.

Fourthly, what exactly is a sexual surrogate? I’m dying to know, since the guy who was dating one didn’t exactly know either.

Fifthly, Act Two broke my heart. My career is dedicated to helping people find jobs and achieve self-sufficiency, and I am acquainted with hundreds of stories just like these two. What mother doesn’t give up opportunities in trade for a better future for their children? And who doesn’t sometimes have trouble seeing that the decisions she’s making are more harmful than good? And who among us has never had to suffer the effects of mistakes years after it seemed we should have made sufficient restitution?

Lastly, what would we find out if we questioned the histories behind the furniture we buy, the pets we adopt, the clothes we pick through, or the estate that we divide out of the classifieds? The stories of loneliness, of abuse, of triumph, of loss – maybe we are better off just making the call, grabbing the object, and getting the hell out with no clue about the back story.

I don’t know – do I want the great story, or do I want the ignorant bliss of ownership?


~ by gypsyjonga on June 1, 2009.

4 Responses to “Lost Dog, Help Wanted and “Rocket Man””

  1. Hi Jenny,

    Well, I wondered how you were going to top that first one and you did!

    Ok, now you’ve got to tell us about those Sri Lankan Tuk-tuk drivers…

    Keep up the good work!


  2. Thanks, Beth! I will definitely share the tuk-tuk stories. I even have pictures for that one! In fact, I think I’ll write about that on Thursday. I’ll even check the spelling before then!


  3. Here’s an article about sex surrogates that may help explain, but may make things muddier. I was fascinated by the concept. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29881206/

    • That is fascinating! The legal issues, the psychological issues…wow. Almost what I was thinking, but not quite…. Now I’ve got something new to think about! Thanks for the link!

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