Those of you who have read anything I’ve posted in social media have probably figured out by now that one of the perks of my job is that I get to watch TV or movies while I do it.
This is because the majority of what I do is rather rote and takes about a third of my brain cells, and I’m much more efficient when the rest of my brain is tricked into thinking that something interesting is going on. My bosses are cool with it as long as I do my work, and if and when I move on to bigger and better things with the company, I will most likely give up my Netflix work-a-days. But for now, in order to keep sane, I watch Doctor Who, random horror movies, and any movies that I feel like I should have seen in my twenty-four years on the planet. I made it to around 75 of the top 100 films of the 20th century (according to the American Film Institute) but stopped once the movies left were predominantly silent or just not films that I thought I would enjoy watching. See, I’m getting cultured AND paid!
I try to watch good shows and good movies. This can really make a day fly by. But it can also be dangerous, because I’m a sentimental consumer of entertainment. I unashamedly cry at movies. Which is great, except for when I’m watching those movies at work.
Case in point: Braveheart. I don’t know how I got away with not having seen this movie until now. As a middle-schooler I was absolutely obsessed with Scotland, and Edinburgh is still my favorite city on the planet. One of the crowning moments of my life was getting to sing in the High Kirk of Edinburgh with my chorus in high school. William Wallace, Robbie the Bruce, never taking freedom–how the hell have I not seen this movie before today?
Because I never remembered to rent or watch it, that’s how. I also blame my friends for not insisting we have a movie night sooner.
Anyway, I watched all beautiful three hours of this movie this morning. Romps on the glens, bloody battles, guerilla warfare. Top-notch stuff. And then we got to the end of the movie, where Wallace is sentenced to torture and death by beheading.
**SPOILERS** (Although this is history. If you don’t know what happened it really isn’t my fault for ruining it)
He gets stretched in midair with a noose around his neck. He gets stretched some more on the rack. They ask him to end it by kissing the English executioner’s ring and submitting, but he refuses. His last word is a shout: FREEDOM! He looks to the crowd and suddenly sees the specter of his dead wife, whose murder prompted him to begin fighting all those years ago. He smiles. He squeezes the handkerchief that bound their marriage together. The ax raises and falls, the handkerchief clutches and falls.
You would have to be made of stone to resist a scene like that. And granite I ain’t.
So here’s the issue–do I take all that beautiful sadness and bottle it up behind my eyes to be released when I get home? Do I let flow as I email the next business owner? Neither is an ideal solution. Here is what I imagine happening from each:
SITUATION 1: Operation Keep It In
MATT: You okay?
LAURA: I’m fine, I’m fine.
MATT: Cool. So I’ve got this guy on the phone who’s upset about the redemption policy, would you mind talking to him?
LAURA: No problem, I’ll take it.
*into the phone* Hello sir, how can I help you? You don’t–I see–sir–what I can tell you about that–WELL LET’S SEE YOU DIE FOR YOUR IDEALS AND THEN YOU CAN CLAIM THE HIGHER MORAL GROUND!
(That would be while sobbing.)
SITUATION 2: Operation Let It Go
MATT: You okay?
LAURA: *crying* I’m fine, I’m fine.
MATT: Dude, are you–are you crying? She’s CRYING! Hey John, Laura’s crying! Grant, can you believe this? Laura’s crying at work!
MATT: Oh–geez–um–do you need–uh–I was just going to ask, but–of course, it’s fine! You take all the time you need–I’m just going to–switch desks–I’m so sorry about your grandfather–
Then I’d have to explain that it was fictional characters that got me all worked up, and not any kind of actual bereavement or issue in my life, at which point response 2 in Situation 2 would become response 1.
So I guess I’ll go with the pretending that I haven’t been moved, then at some point sobbing into my fuzzy purple pillow at home. The only other answer I can see is to stop watching anything that could possibly evoke an emotional response. And even there my job is difficult. I mean, they’ve stopped making new episodes of Two and a Half Men.