Full Circle Baby: Where did the time even go?
The year was 1981. Remember 1981? That first burst of the go-go eighties? Back In 1981 the odd term “internet” was first mentioned, Microsoft released an operating system, a bunch of air traffic controllers got fired, Hollywood had a Superman sequel and Arthur ruled the box office. Things were big and getting bigger while life as we knew it sped forward ever faster. Everyone knew things were getting hot, they could feel it. Technology was coming on in a big way and it was saving folk’s time - lots of time. Obviously, all this time saved meant more opportunities to cram already busy lives even fuller. So as the go-go was first get-getting, an innocuous little commercial surfaced from the crew at FedEx that went and captured the zeitgeist of the times.
Considered the most award-winning commercial in the history of advertising, the FedEx spot entitled “Fast Paced World” starred a young fellow named John Moschitta.. Now you probably don’t know the name but you absolutely know the guy. He’s the fast talker – so fast in fact that he was said to speak a blistering 586 words per minute – clearly. At one time he was even listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. Listed of course until they decided “speed talking” took up valuable record space that could be better applied to such winning categories as “most eggs crushed on head in one minute” and “biggest collection of barf bags.”
Back then, the commercial featured the suited, and humorously monotone, Moschitta going through an ever speedier workday. In less than one minute he makes detailed travel plans, hires new employees, chairs a meeting, has a tongue-twisting business lunch, does a dozen deals, has more meetings and even manages to send a package thanks to the appropriately fast folks at FedEx. It was ridiculous of course but it was also the times. The world was really moving and everyone knew it would never be the same again.
So welcome to 2011. The new car smell isn’t even worn off the century yet and already we have seen the internet take center stage, Microsoft offer up a new operating system, a bunch of air traffic controllers get fired, a new Superman sequel in the works and Arthur: the movie opening at the box office. Yes, it would seem things actually don’t change that much after all. Even fast-talker John Moschitta is back. The only difference this time is that he happens to have a new gig: JetBlue.
Once the darling of airline start-ups, JetBlue has had to battle a few embarrassing issues of late. Things like an unhinged flight attendant causing a scene, a psycho Playboy bunny ripping open a door mid-flight and a horrible habit of forcibly detaining passengers on their planes for hours, and hours at a time. Nobody said business was easy, and JetBlue does have to do what it can to create some positive buzz in an industry once adored (almost unbelievably) for its glamour and raw time-saving abilities.
The JetBlue ads are somewhat non-events, aside from the re-appearance of the one-time Jeopardy answer Moschitta. But it is amusing to consider that even as JetBlue is using a blast from the past to wax on about the speed of their service in relation to the speed of our lives we are inevitably reminded that somehow we’ve been this way before. Nothing - absolutely nothing - is ever truly new.
Are our lives actually getting faster or do we simply live at the speed in which we live? Are we truly prisoners of a world that demands ever more or are we willingly compliant in an exercise of insanity insisting we must run faster every day? When you see things come full-circle so clearly it’s hard not to conclude that the race we’re so desperate to win is actually being run on a circular track. Going faster doesn’t necessarily move you any farther ahead. It only increases the number of times you run around in circles.
At the end of the day, things really don’t change all that much. Sure, they’re slightly different overall but like it or not, folks get born, they live and then they die. The noise in between can be taken as seriously – or as lightly – as you like. Heck, I’m fairly sure even a Bible dude like Abraham was absolutely convinced he’d never get everything done that he needed to get done either. So whether FedEx helped speed things up in 1981 or if JetBlue can do similar for 2011 doesn’t really matter in the grand old scheme of things.
Come to think of it, if folks are looking for a way to improve our lives maybe a slight return to the past could work. I know when it comes to travel these days I’d much rather squeeze my butt inside a FedEx document bag for the comparatively genteel trip to Denver their packages take versus the indignity of the rectal exams currently on offer for JetBlue fliers. Speed is nice and all but when it’s ultimately your butt on the line I’d say taking a little time might be more than worth the wait.