Thursday, August 22, 2013

Episode 28 - The Alternate Side

The Plot:  Again, it just takes the one simple phrase to identify the episode to fans.  Kramer’s, “These pretzels are making me thirsty” is a highlight.  Maybe the most quoted Seinfeld line in my house. 

The episode begins with Jerry's car being stolen, when the guy he pays to move his car (Sid) from side to side on the street leaves the keys in the car.  For those of you who have never lived in NYC, the city has rules about parking on alternate sides of the street during the week.  People with cars who do not use a garage, are forced to move their car from one side of the street to the other to avoid tickets and/or towing.  A little cottage industry has grown over the years with people getting paid to move other people’s cars for them.  While trying to explain to Jerry what happened, Sid mentions that he is going out of town for awhile and needs to find someone to take over the car moving business.  An unemployed George offers to take over for Sid while he’s gone.  Not surprisingly, George is as inept at moving cars as he was at real estate and architecture (pretty much everything but hand modeling, but we’ll get to that later) and creates a massive traffic jam on Jerry’s block.

In an alternative plot line, Elaine is dating Owen March, a 66-year-old writer who she finds she has little in common with.  Just before she was about to break up with him, he has a stroke and she takes him to Jerry’s apartment to call 911.  The paramedics have a hard time getting to the apartment to assist Owen, because of George’s parking disaster. 

The final plot line surrounds Kramer getting a line in a Woody Allen movie they are filming in the neighborhood.  His line, "These pretzels are making me thirsty!" becomes a classic, as all four of the main characters use the line at least once during the episode.

Due to the major inconveniences caused by George's parking snafu, a disgruntled Woody Allen is quoted on a news program as saying that he may never shoot a movie in New York again. Additionally, George's poor performance causes many of Sid's long time customers to cancel, therefore causing Sid a loss of income. This results in Sid being unable to finance his nephew's operation to save his foot (which must now be amputated). While filming a shot during the movie, Kramer slams down his beer mug on the bar and accidentally injures Woody Allen with a flying shard of glass. He subsequently gets fired from the film.

Fun Facts: 
  • Keeping with his ongoing string of voice over cameos, the voice of the thief who steals Jerry’s car is Larry David.
  • Jerry later admitted that this was his least favorite episode of the entire show.
  • Kramer’s one line in the movie was the inspiration for a later trilogy of episodes that has Kramer move to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career.

Favorite Quote:   Sid comes back to find many of his customers have left him because George did such a horrible job moving the cars.  He goes after George:

Sid: Now you didn't tell me you didn't know how to drive. You should have mentioned that.
George: Well I know how to drive.
Sid: Then how'd all those cars get damaged? Why are people calling me up screaming on the phone? Most of them cancelled out on me...
Sid: Moving cars from one side of the street to the other don't take no more sense than putting on a pair of pants. My question to you is who's putting your pants on?

Favorite Scene:   With his car stolen, Jerry and Elaine head to the rental agency to rent a car.  The agency screws up his reservation and then tries to explain to him their policies. 

Agent: I'm sorry, we have no mid-size available at the moment.
Jerry: I don't understand, I made a reservation, do you have my reservation?
Agent: Yes, we do, unfortunately we ran out of cars.
Jerry: But the reservation keeps the car here. That's why you have the reservation.
Agent: I know why we have reservations.
Jerry: I don't think you do. If you did, I'd have a car. See, you know how to take the reservation, you just don't know how to hold the reservation and that's really the most important part of the reservation, the holding. Anybody can just take them.
Agent: Let me, uh, speak with my supervisor...
Agent: I'm sorry, my supervisor says there's nothing we can do…we do have a compact if you would like that.
Jerry: Fine.
Agent: Alright. We have a blue Ford Escort for you Mr. Seinfeld. Would you like insurance?
Jerry: Yeah, you better give me the insurance, because I am gonna beat the hell out of this car.

The Lesson:  This episode provides a great lesson for entrepreneurs.  Our company name is Think Big Partners.  We have built a business around encouraging people to “think big” and look for large opportunities.  But even the largest opportunities are destined to fail if you don’t pay attention to the small details.  The simple things (moving a car from one side of the street to another) that many startups take for granted are often the things that trip up entrepreneurs and keep them from achieving their goals.  This episode is loaded with examples where the little things have a huge impact:

1.)    George not being able to move the cars costs Sid his business;
2.)    Kramer not being able to say a simple line “these pretzels are making me thirsty” costs him his acting job;
3.)    Elaine not being able to have a simple conversation with her boyfriend costs her significant freedom when she is forced to nurse him back to health after his stroke; and
4.)    Jerry loses his car because the guy he hired forgot the simplest of tasks (removing the keys from the ignition).

None of these were difficult or time consuming tasks, but the failure to pay attention to the details of a small job ultimately resulted in disastrous consequences.  The same is true for startups.  Never take your eye off the big prize, but make sure you pay attention to the little details along the way.

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