Seasoned Rookie with Murph, The Seasoned Rookie.
Every so often (more so than usual, it seems,) I like to wander from the trail and toolbox to share a bit of philosophy.
In recent months Ive enjoyed the distinct pleasure of meeting some very interesting people, one of whom is Brian Gareau. Brian co-wrote a book entitled A Slice of Life: A Story about Perspective, Priorities, and Pizza. The official synopsis reads as follows:
An engaging story about a disillusioned journalist, who during an unexpected visit, finds surprising wisdom in and around a small town pizzeria in Upstate New York. Each of his encounters reinforces simple and heartfelt truths having to do with priorities, choices, commitment and contentment. The story shares lessons that can be applied both in your personal and professional life.
Slice could, in some ways, be considered a more easily digested version of Robert Pirsigs Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance in that it tells a story about a persons life-changing experiences while away from home, however it does not require 373 pages of misery-laden 6-point font to get the story across. It also has a much happier ending, so really there was no point to bring up Pirsigs book except to appear well read.
The story begins with Evan, a young journalist with a cloud of cynicism rolling overhead. He is frustrated with his fizzling career, the weather is miserable, and his car is protesting further travel.
Evan is from the big city, and is not pleased with the idea of spending a night or two in some small Adirondack town. After befriending Tony and his wife Peggy of the local pizzeria where his car wheezes to a stop, his perspective on the situation slowly turns positive. Tony is not only there to provide a quick meal, but also to play the role of mentor, guide, and coach in a spiritual quest one which started with an empty stomach.
As the reader, we have the opportunity to look over Evans shoulder from time to time and observe what he is learning through what he jots down in his notebook, along with a thought provoking statement which somehow one can easily relate to. I found this to be a nice touch as the story flows so well that sometimes I would forget that I was supposed to be learning as well this kept me on track very nicely.
I had the opportunity to speak with Brian about the book and ask some questions based on what I had read.
SR: I noticed that the book has several stories going on within it, based on the different characters and what they do both for a living and for the community. They seem very dimensional and real almost as if they may be based on people or experiences in your life, either past or present. Are there any inside secrets you care to share?
BG: Most of the stories in "Slice of Life" have content that comes from real life experiences either Al or I had. We simply changed a few elements to as they say "protect the innocent" and keep the story line flowing. For example, most of the content about the tire store took place one Saturday evening in Dallas, TX. Al and I stopped about 6:05 p.m. just as the bay doors were closing and everyone was wrapping things up. The posted hours for Saturday were 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. They saw Al's half flat tire ... opened a bay door back up ... found the leak ... and fixed it. The two guys that worked on the flat were very courteous and customer focused. There was no griping or undertones of frustration for staying to fix the tire. Literally in 15 minutes we were on our way and the guys were locking up. We both commented that it would make a great story about customer satisfaction and the importance of always having time for things we are truly committed to.
SR: Have you ever envisioned a movie being made of your book?
BG: Hadn't really thought about it. Our first goal is to get people to read the book ... visit our web-site and/or come to our four hour workshop. Initial feedback from readers has been very positive and our first public workshop is in Orlando in June. We just need to keep getting the word out. We have discussed a "book on tape" concept. You know something that Zooker's could maybe listen to on the way to their favorite off-roading site or while they rebuild their vehicle.
SR: This may seem silly, but why pizza? Why not burgers or tacos?
BG: Al and I could not think of a more popular food. It's convenient ... offers lots of choices and varieties ... inexpensive (affordable to virtually everyone) ... good anytime (hot or cold or reheated) ... best when shared with others ... there's equality for all (Bill Gates can't get a better one than you or I can) ... and most importantly Al and I couldn't think of a time in either of our lives when having a slice or two didn't make us feel more content.
SR: I realize that the book reflects many of your own values but what made you decide to focus on sharing your philosophy of life with so many, rather than find a way to gain from it alone?
BG: Each of us comes in contact with literally thousands of people each year. It could be in a store ... at work ... at a sporting event ... at school ... at church ... an off-road rally, etc. Many of these people we encounter are struggling with balancing their priorities, choices, and commitment. Their personal clocks and compasses are not synchronized. They are spending way too much time on things that are not really that important. We wanted to remind people to simply stop - look - listen. There are examples of commitment and its subsequent contentment all around them. And why a book? Well, the Super Bowl ad was too expensive ... we couldn't guarantee traffic by our billboard ... and the catchiest web address was already taken. Seriously, we chose the book route because Al has had previous success with this communications vehicle ... he's co-authored eight other books.
SR: Recently, I had the opportunity to hear you deliver a presentation in which you discussed Perspective and Commitment. These concepts appear several times in "Slice." What led you to realize how important this truly is?
BG: First on the subject of perspectives. Bill Cosby has been credited with the saying "is the glass half full or half empty simply depends on whether you are drinking or pouring." Cal Rychener talks about having balcony and baloney people in our lives. The balcony people affirm you ... encourage you ... and see your potential. Baloney people simply keep you down and limit you. Disney's Eeyore always sees the rain cloud in everything and grumbles. Life is all about perspective. We can choose to drink and eat a baloney sandwich outside in a driving rainstorm or be optimistic from the balcony that the sun will return. Personally, I'm more content with the latter. Second, let's talk about commitment. Just think how it feels when you burn the midnight oil to rebuild an off-road vehicle and complete it. When you find that replacement part that everyone said was impossible to find. When a group of friends spend the entire weekend together helping you rebuild an engine so you too can have your own "wheels". When people drive hundreds of miles each year to "rally" with a close group of fellow enthusiasts! Life is so much better with commitment.
SR: After reading "Slice" I learned a great many things that I could apply to my day-to-day office job (that is, when I find one.) Do you feel that your book will translate to those of us who work outside of the land of white collars, such as in factory settings, or retail?
BG: Absolutely yes. The messages in our book and workshop are not based on a title, job classification, economic level, age, etc. We've received some great feedback already from police, nurses, housewives, small business owners, retirees, V.P's from major corporations, ministers, HR managers, factory workers and secretaries. The book is simply about life.
SR: How would you feel about an afternoon bouncing around in a muddy Suzuki?
BG: Absolutely, but only if we celebrate the day's M&M's (page 78 in book) over a cold drink and a hot "slice".
SR: Possibly the most important question of them all, as you know I feel strongly about your book and wish to recommend it to others. How will my friends and fellow Zooker's come across their own copy of "A Slice of Life?"
BG: Three easy ways. 1) Websites ... www.asliceoflife.org or www.adlassociates.com 2) Phone (972) 899-3411; and 3) Fax (972) 662-0978.
I cant think of much more one could add to this. With upcoming graduations and such, the book would be a perfect gift for those starting a new life segment. I have personally read the book twice and each time it has inspired me to re-evaluate my ways of doing things and adjust them as needed.
Murph The Seasoned Rookie