The Thing I Like About …

Seinfeld: the one where Kramer leaves the glass on the table.

At the opening of this episode of Seinfeld, Jerry leaves his apartment open for Kramer to use, but warns Kramer not to mess the place up. While he’s gone, Kramer pretty much trashes the place – he eats on the couch, spills things, leaves a mess everywhere, and has a crowded party with dancing and drinking. But by the time Jerry gets back, Kramer – as he promised – has returned the apartment to its original condition. Everything is spotless and tidy and put away and fine.

Except there’s a glass of water on the coffee table.

Jerry scoffs and shakes his head – clearly and thoroughly disappointed in his friend – and picks up the offending glass and puts it on a coaster.

People go through life completely worried about a whole bunch of crap. They try to micromanage the world around them, and they get upset when others don’t comply with their personal expectations. They imagine a world that will fall apart if everything isn’t “just so.” They worry about coasters on coffee tables.

But it turns out that life is usually not dire at all. It turns out that coasters on coffee tables don’t really matter all that much. And, most importantly, it turns out that a whole bunch of stuff that happens anyway – even “bad” stuff – doesn’t really matter either. Why, it can happen and be dealt with and put back to rights while the person who’s worried about it isn’t even aware of it at all.

Maybe take a look around you at the things you’re worried about, the things you micromanage, the things you expect from others. How much of it is coasters-on-tables? How much of it matters at all? How much of it could go spectacularly “wrong” and still not affect you in any egregious way?

Kramer lives a huge, out-loud, messy life … and he keeps his promise to tidy up the apartment he’s borrowed. Jerry lives a tidy, controlled, offendable life full of coasters and disappointments. But it’s the same world.

Who would you rather be?


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