June 18, 2024
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June 18, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Freddie Ferguson needed to change—at least his boss, friends, mother, therapist, bowling team, florist, golf coach and gardener all thought so. Freddie was coasting along, not contributing much to the world, although it was hard to blame him. Freddie was the sole heir to the Ferguson family fortune, and didn’t need to work a day in his life to have everything he needed (and plenty of things he didn’t need).

However, doing nothing all day can catch up with you. (Yes, staring at TikTok and Instagram counts as doing nothing.) Only 30 years old, Freddie began to feel like his life was a waste. “What would happen if I just vanished into thin air? Would I be missed? Would it have any effect on anyone or anything? Who in this world needs or relies on me for anything?” Freddie was lying in bed, feeling sorry for himself, when an unskippable ad came up during his second hour of Hulu-bingeing.

“Do you feel like you contribute nothing to the world?” the narrator asked. “Yes,” Freddie responded in a slow and sad voice. “Are you 30 years old and already feel like you have wasted your entire life?” continued the advertisement. “Yes,” responded a surprised Freddie, who was now sitting up with his face inches from the screen. “Do you feel as if you would not be missed if you vanished into thin air?” added the commercial. “YES! Tell me what to do!” shouted Freddie to no one in particular. “Let me tell you what to do—take a week off at Cowboy Norm’s Reset Ranch and reset your life!” concluded the ad.

Almost instantly, Freddie grabbed his phone and booked himself two weeks at the Ranch. Within two hours he was in an Uber on the way to the airport. For anyone else, this ride would be an especially big deal. But for Freddie, who had a personal driver and two limos at his disposal, paying for a ride in a “regular” car was huge. When they arrived at the airport, Freddie refused to let the driver help with the bags, and he gave the driver a $100 tip. “Thank you!” responded the pleasantly surprised driver. “No; thank YOU!” replied Freddie while giving the driver a big (and awkward) hug. Of course, The New Freddie flew coach, and even offered to switch to a middle seat so that someone else could enjoy the window seat for a change.

A few minutes into the flight, the elderly woman sitting next to Freddie started up a conversation. “It was so nice of you to switch seats. I haven’t flown in 25 years, and it’s nice to be able to watch the scenery. My name is Bertie, what’s yours?” Freddie opened his mouth to speak, paused, thought for a few seconds, and then answered: “My name is Hardworker Notlazyman.” Bertie reached for her ear and turned up her hearing aid. “It sounded like you said your name was Hardworker. Did I get that right?” Freddie/Hardworker smiled. “Yep. But my friends call me Hardy.”

Freddie spent the rest of the flight trying to help out in every way he could. He offered to serve the food instead of the flight attendants, tried for a half-hour to get a crying baby to fall asleep, and even asked if he could take over for the pilots for a bit. While his offers seemed genuine, Freddie was really just getting on everyone’s nerves. No, they didn’t want a “free foot massage.” No, they didn’t need help chewing their food. Yes, they were fine reading their books to themselves. Freddie was disappointed, but not discouraged. “Hardy,” he said to himself, “you just need to keep trying. After a short nap.”

A short nap turned into a long one and Freddie woke as the plane began to descend towards the airport. Disappointed with himself for sleeping, Freddie began to prepare himself for the next two weeks. “Last nap for 14 days. I hope you enjoyed it, Hardy.” he said to himself. “Let’s see if you can live up to your new name.” Well, Mr. Notlazyman got right to work, hauling bags off the baggage claim for every passenger on his flight (whether they asked for help or not), and making sure everyone got into taxis and Ubers before heading to the Hertz office to pick up his car rental. With great difficulty, Freddie lifted his bags into the trunk and made his way to Cowboy Norm’s Reset Ranch.

Upon arriving (at 1 in the morning), Freddie checked into room G-8 and sat down on the bed to rest his legs. (“No lying down, Hardy. We gotta get to work!”) Five minutes later, he was back in the lobby, begging the night manager to give him some work to do. (“Anything! Give me the dirty work! I’ll clean the horses’ stalls! I’ll brush the pigs’ teeth!”) However, no matter how hard she tried, the manager could not convince Freddie to head back to his room for the night.

The noise produced by this friendly argument apparently traveled to the back offices, as a door opened and out walked Cowboy Norm himself. “What seems to be the problem here? Everything OK?” The manager explained the situation to Norm, who first took two minutes to get over Freddie’s new name. (“Hardworker Notlazyman? Well, you either came to the right place, or you’re crazy.”) Once that shock wore off, Cowboy Norm asked Freddie/Hardy a simple question—“Why so eager to get to work?”

That question was all Freddie needed to spill his guts. He told Cowboy Norm all about his life and how he came to the Ranch to turn it around. Freddie explained that he wanted to get rid of his old personality completely, which would only happen if he became crazy about hard work and helping out. Norm nodded to show he understood. “I get it, but I’m not sure I agree with your approach. You need to find a balance, man. It’s not all or nothing.” However, when he saw the puppy-dog look on Freddie’s face, he gave in. “OK, fine. I have a few boxes here that need moving. Help me with that and then get some sleep.” Freddie smiled, walked over to the boxes, and began to lift the first one. Immediately, a sharp pain shot through his back and he dropped the box to the ground. All the hard work from the airport had done a number on his back and now Freddie could barely move.

Ironically, Freddie spent the next week in his bed, recovering from his back injury. During that time, Cowboy Norm visited a few times, and he and Freddie spoke about finding balance in life. Norm convinced Freddie that he would always need to have fun and relax, and that Freddie didn’t need to fear that part of himself. So, after a week of reading and watching “Jeopardy” in bed, Freddie felt refreshed and ready for a week of properly balanced hard work. He left the Ranch seven days later, and went on to live a happy and productive life.

Exactly what the role of Noach and his sons in the new world is is unclear, as are the number of animals brought on the ark. One pasuk tells us that Noach brought one pair of each “impure” species and seven pairs of each “pure” animal. This pasuk says that Noach would be part of rebuilding the world. However, another pasuk tells us that it was one pair of every animal, and this pasuk doesn’t mention rebuilding the world. Perhaps the message is that human beings are a mixture of generosity and selfishness, needing both to build the world and to enjoy life. It’s silly to ignore either part—the key is to find balance.

By Yair Daar

 

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