Existential Dread and Towing: A Playlet
…In which we bring theatre to the previously contented self-isolated
By Ed Goldman
The theatre has brought us Clifford Odets’s “Waiting for Lefty” and Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot.”
Today I bring you “Waiting for the Tow.”
The Wait’s the Thing
THE SETTING: A front porch in East Sacramento. Across the street sits Our Protagonist’s car, at the exact spot he climbed out of it when he and his date were about to head to a friend’s home for dinner and the battery light came on. For the first time ever, Our Protagonist Googled what it means when this occurs; he discovers it means his car’s entire operating system will shut down in “15 MINUTES MAX.”
This at first confuses our protagonist, since his name isn’t Max.
As our play opens, his car has sat across the street from his date’s home for nine days because his dealership was unable to begin work on it for 10 days. Our Protagonist now waits for the towing service that will presumably take his car to be repaired.
OUR PROTAGONIST: Hi, I’ve been sitting here for 60 minutes waiting for the tow truck driver you texted me would be here 30 minutes ago.
RECEPTIONIST: Let me check for you, sir.
MUSIC: “Embraceable You,” by the Hollywood Strings. Five minutes pass, during which another song, “Born Free,” begins to play.
RECEPTIONIST: Hello, sir. Our GPS shows that the driver is “on site.”
OUR PROTAGONIST: “On site?” He’s not even in sight.
RECEPTIONIST: Please hold again.
MUSIC: “My Way.”
RECEPTIONIST: Sir, apparently the driver texted “on site” instead of “enroute.” It happens.
OUR PROTAGONIST: Well, they’re spelled so similarly.
RECEPTIONIST: That’s very kind‚—
OUR PROTAGONIST: And they also sound alike: “On site.” “Enroute.”
RECEPTIONIST: Sir, I have a feeling you’re being sarcastic.
OUR PROTAGONIST: What was your first clue?
RECEPTIONIST (Clearing throat): The tow truck driver will be there in 35 minutes. He’ll call you.
OUR PROTAGONIST: Why?
RECEPTIONIST (Ethereally): Does any of us ever know why?
MUSIC: “Mood Indigo” to signal the ambiguity of the play’s ending, existential meaning and complete lack of entertainment value.
BONUS STUDY GUIDE. For online teachers, ask your students to order “Chinatown” on Netflix and watch only the final 10 minutes. It has nothing to do with the preceding playlet but has much better photography.
It is also strongly advised that you have a child psychologist on call, or even a grown-up one.
A Weekly Blog by Virginia Varela
President and CEO, Golden Pacific Bank
photo by Phoebe Verkouw
SPEAKING OF MALALA (AND WE SHOULD BE!)…
Golden Pacific Bank is a proud corporate sponsor of the Sacramento Speaker Series, whose 2021 season opened with Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for female education and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
Malala is the world’s youngest Nobel Prize laureate. She became globally known when she was shot in the head by the Taliban in her fight for girls’ rights to be educated. She continues to disrupt the world with her poignant demands for that—especially the rights of refugees— and empowering girls through education.
I was amazed at her intellect, her poise, and her humor in spite of surviving such a horrible incident. Malala is a futurist, and argues that educating girls brings new, bright minds to potentially succeed in changing the planet in our fights against climate change, human rights advocacy, and the poor and displaced.
Hers is a cry for addressing issues from a stance of “the greater good.” Her mere presence made me want to stretch my thought process to be more inclusive and to value education as a right for all.
Malala Yousafzai and Virginia Varela
I was particularly struck by Malala’s story of how her father, also an activist for women and girls, was her greatest champion. Meanwhile, her mother was born with limited opportunities to go to school but still was able to pick up her studies as an adult. One is never too old to learn.
Per Malala: “One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.”
Malala points the way to a leadership succession plan at the Earth Planet level. I am very honored that she came and spoke in Sacramento, California, and hope that we business folks can continue to promote and support education for all genders, age groups, and religious or spiritual identification.