Friday, October 3, 2014

Waiting...not for Godot, but for the Elevator

Education ---

Vladimir and Estragon, two tragi-comic figures in Beckett's famous play find themselves waiting for the inscrutable Godot in what seems like a never-ending cycle of hope and despair.  When I think of these two characters in Beckett's play, Julius and Ric, two educators working at the same high school, come to mind.  One is a distinguished science teacher, and the other is the Dean.  They certainly are not tramps like Vladimir and Estragon, neither are they caught up in the despair that seems to dog these two hapless men, but the ridiculously comic aspect is definitely there.  And while Vladimir and Estragon go about their existence merely passing the time and filling their boring existence with trite and meaningless action and speech, Julius and Ric embrace their existence in all its fullness.  With these two old farts there is never a dull moment. They both pride themselves in being dumb but not stupid, and they both hate everybody, though with regard to the latter Ric would claim that Julius, by far the older of the two, contaminated him.  As far as they are concerned life is one gigantic laugh, and as they go about their day-to-day pursuits they seem to always find the time for a bit of laughter and for humor-filled self-deprecation.

So here they are at the workplace one morning standing before the elevator, attempting to go up to the second floor for their early morning staff meeting.  Ric often uses the stairs while Julius, who hates burning the least bit of calories, always takes the elevator.  He so eschews physical activity that he would often offer to pay others to exercise for him.  In fact, just seeing someone else exercising makes him tired, he would say.  So there they are standing before the elevator talking about something stupid (as usual) while they wait.  After a while they stop talking and look at each other.  There is no sign of the elevator.  It suddenly dawns on the "two idiots" (for that is how Julius' wife refers* to them) that neither of them had called the elevator.  Bursting out in laughter at their forgetfulness, they call the elevator.  They get on it when it arrives, and the door closes behind them. And so our two modern day Didi and Gogo (the nicknames of Vladimir and Estragon) continue their silly banter for a few minutes - Julius asking Ric to send him home because he had failed to complete some assigned task and Ric obliging him by telling him that he could take Saturday and Sunday off instead (Of course there is no school on weekends).  Then all of a sudden they realize that the elevator is not moving.  Well, what do you know?  Vladimir and Estragon had forgotten to push the elevator button.

*[The reason she refers to them as "two idiots" is that after one performance of an off-key duet and of Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First" before the student body at an Assembly, they think all of a sudden that they are now show-biz material and are talking about signing contracts with Hollywood.]