Have you ever watched the TV show ‘Parks and Recreation’? If not, I would highly recommend it – especially if you’ve ever worked in the public sector, or if you like mockumentary style shows like ‘The Office’.
I recently finished a catch-up marathon of the show … and so I’m now left impatiently waiting for more episodes … The series centres around Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), the Deputy Director of the Parks and Recreation Department in the fictional town of Pawnee (a brief aside: Amy Poehler usually irritates the hell out of me, but she has not bothered me once in this show). While Leslie is all enthusiasm and positive thinking, the rest of the ‘Parks and Rec’ team are less so. Having worked in government for many years, I can definitely say that I’ve encountered most of the personalities featured in the show – there’s the ambitious at any cost, the lazy, the uncooperative, the stickler for the rules, and of course you just can’t go past all that red tape. Aside from the natural comedy created by the ridiculousness of government structure and policy, the character’s interactions with each other are also lots of fun … and of course, there’s plenty of romance and relationship tensions to keep things extra interesting.
All of the characters are wonderful in their own way, but my absolute favourite of them all would have to be the Department’s Director, Ron Swanson – he hates government and how it operates, but he’s also a fascinating and rather sweet guy. The most perfect thing about Ron Swanson (well apart from his incredible moustache and unexpected after-hours talents) are the insights he offers into the people around him. In speaking to Leslie about why she might be feeling dissatisfied with her current boyfriend, he had this to say:
‘He’s a tourist. He vacations in people’s lives, takes pictures, puts them in his scrapbook, and moves on. All he’s interested in are stories. Basically, Leslie, he’s selfish. And you’re not. That’s why you don’t like him.’
This statement just blew me away. I’ve known (and still do know) a few people like this. The kind of people that are only interested in you as part of a ‘network’ or using you as a signpost to finding a better place in the world for themselves. Often such people are completely lovely and don’t actually mean any harm, but personally I’d much rather devote my time and energy to people that really want to know and understand me. Give me real relationships and genuine interactions every single time.
How about you? Have you ever come across these ‘tourists’ or acquaintance ‘collectors?