The Plot: The last episode of Season Two. Jerry, George, and Elaine are at dinner when a menu on an adjacent table catches fire. George puts it out and explains to the manager that the busboy left the menu too close to a candle (although, in explaining the situation, he is hoping to get some free dessert as he is rather displeased with his pesto pasta) and Elaine jokingly declares she is never eating there again. The busboy is subsequently fired, upsetting Elaine and George.
George and Kramer track down the guy's address and go to his apartment to apologize. In the course of a rather odd apology, the busboy notices that his cat is missing and that the door to his apartment was accidentally left open. A few days later, the busboy comes to see George, and tells him that there was an explosion at the restaurant, killing five employees, including the busboy hired to replace him. He thanks George for saving his life.
On an entirely different story line, Elaine has a boyfriend she met in NYC, but he lives in Seattle. The young man is coming to visit her for a couple of days. She is extremely excited about his impending arrival, but only a few days later, is about to kill him. Having him stay in her apartment has changed her opinion considerably. Counting down the hours until he departs, Eileen wakes up to realize she has overslept and that this thorn in her side might miss his flight. Later, in Jerry’s apartment, she recites an amazing story of driving through Manhattan to try and get the schlep to his airplane and how she would of made it had she not encountered a five-car pileup on Rockaway Blvd. With the fella still with her, he gets into a fight down the hallway with the busboy, resulting in injuries on both ends, causing him to be laid up at her apartment indefinitely.
- This is the first episode in which Jerry did not figure prominently in any story lines. He had a minimal supporting role in both the busboy and the boyfriend stories.
- Again with the apartment!! The entire episode, Jerry lives in #5A, but one quick scene at the end has #3A on the door.
- George claims that he can tell you the best public toilet anywhere in NYC. Years later, in the Larry David Show, Larry wrote this into an episode in which George has turned this knowledge into an incredibly successful iPhone app called “iToilet”.
Jerry: So they went out a few times, but apparently, when the fellow returned home, he discovered that the Benes tattoo does not wash off so easily.
Favorite Scene: One of the all-time great scenes for its physical comedy is Elaine’s frantic efforts to get her boneheaded boyfriend out of her apartment after oversleeping. It is eerily reminiscent of an old Gilda Radner skit on Saturday Night Live, as she runs around in circles, bumping into things with almost no discernible purpose. It leads right into her dead eyed description of the drive to the airport.
Elaine: I never knew I could drive like that. I was going faster than I've ever gone before, and yet, it all seemed to be happening in slow motion. I was seeing three and four moves ahead, weaving in and out of lanes like an Olympic skier on a gold metal run. I knew I was challenging the very laws of physics. At Queens Boulevard, I took the shoulder. At Jewel Avenue, I used the median. I had it. I was there.. and then.. I hit the Van Wyck. They say no one's ever beaten the Van Wyck, but gentlemen, I tell you this - I came as close as anyone ever has. And if it hadn't been for that five-car-pile-up on Rockaway Boulevard, that numbskull would be on a plane for Seattle right now instead of looking for a parking space downstairs.
The Lesson: Once again, I could probably pull three or four different lessons out of this episode. However, the overriding lesson for entrepreneurs is one I actually learned from my father at a very early age. My father used to always tell me to keep things in perspective, because, “things are never quite as good or quite as bad as they seem at the time they happen.” This has been very helpful advice for me over the years. Often I have been faced with a great challenge or a great success and thought that was the end all be all. I would either succeed and be a king of the world, or I would fail miserably and have to face my family in shame. Never did either of those extremes actually result. Our successes were not life changing wins. They were just simple victories that allowed us to grow as a company. Likewise, those death inducing challenges were not mortal wounds at all. Rather, they were the kinds of mistakes that all entrepreneurs make and the good ones learn from.
In this episode, the busboy thinks his life has ended when he is fired from his job. Things get even worse when his cat runs away. A few days later, with a little perspective (he didn’t die in the kitchen explosion, he landed a higher paying job, and his cat returned) all of a sudden, getting fired doesn’t look so bad. He is on top of the world, only to have it all fall apart when he gets in the fight with Elaine’s boyfriend. At the end, he is right back where he started, as a busboy with a cat. Things are neither as good nor as bad as they seem at the time. A lesson well worth remembering.