A life lesson in a silly Johnny Cash song

Recorded in 1976, Johnny Cash’s single “One Piece at a Time” tells the story of a man who works on an assembly line for GM Cadillacs. The man struggles with feeling inferior in a materialistic world because he cannot afford a Cadillac of his own.

This is where the plot of the song comes in – the man decides that he can have a Cadillac if he sneaks out a single piece every day and assembles it on his own. So, how is this song about a light-fingered man and a car a life lesson? Let’s break down the lyrics:

[CHORUS]
“I’d get it one piece at a time
And it wouldn’t cost me a dime…”

When you really want something – for instance a Cadillac – trying to achieve it all at once can be nearly impossible. The things worth pursuing take time and commitment. Instead of attempting to get an entire Cadillac at once, the man is willing to take a piece each day, slowly working toward his goal. Going for it all at once is a mountain of a task, so take baby steps.

“Now, up to now my plan went all right
‘Til we tried to put it all together one night
And that’s when I discovered that something was definitely wrong.”

Twenty-four years have passed since the man began taking pieces, but finally he has everything he needs to assemble the Cadillac and live out his dream. Then, as he sits in his driveway putting the pieces together, he realizes he has his problem:

“The transmission was a ’53
And the motor turned out to be a ’73
And when we tried to put in the bolts all the holes were gone.”

After 24 years, GM has come out with many Cadillac models! Putting together pieces from a 1953 car will not fit with a 1973 model. Things don’t line up and suddenly it seems the dream is out of reach. Sound familiar? By the time we reach our goal it may not be what we expected. It may no longer work. Putting together conflicting parts will leave us angry and unsure. It won’t be pretty…

“Now the headlight’ was another sight,
We had two on the left and one on the right.”

But don’t let a perceived failure get you down! You’ve worked a long time – 24 years for the man- for this moment and you have brought together all the necessary pieces, so go ahead and find a way to make it work:

“So we drilled it out so that it would fit
And with a little bit of help with an A-daptor kit”

The parts of the car did not fit, so the man had to adapt so they would. He found a solution to his problem because he remained determined. It wasn’t pretty, but he refused to trash his dream. That’s commitment, pure and simple. Years of knowledge and dedication allowed him to make his dream come to life. And what’s the payoff? Well:

“I got it one piece at a time
And it didn’t cost me a dime
You’ll know it’s me when I come through your town
I’m gonna ride around in style
I’m gonna drive everybody wild
‘Cause I’ll have the only one there is around.”

Your mission is unique. The parts of the dream you’re putting together are distinctly yours. When you get there, after much dedication, you’ll truly have “the only one there is around” and that’s a beautiful thing. When you stay dedicated to a mission or a dream, the payoff of success is pure elation and you’ll “ride around in style.”

Long story short – chase your dreams and don’t give up!

Side note: Johnny’s impression of a woman’s voice at 2:26 cracks me up every time.

The Night Watchman 5.7.14

When counting sheep just won’t do the trick, it’s time to turn to the Night Watchman. As the late-night moderator of News4Mass, the Night Watchman leaves you with a morsel of thought-provoking insight that you can consider as you venture into dreamland.

Many people say that “there are no stupid questions, just stupid people.” So, allow me to question that statement for a bit.

What do stupid people do? If you said do stupid things, you’re correct! I would argue that everyone is, in their own way, intelligent. Rather, it is their actions that are stupid. They things people do are stupid. Take notice every time a friend says, “Why? That’s so stupid!” because it’s an indication that the person isn’t stupid, but rather what they did or didn’t do is stupid. So if people do stupid things, they can also say stupid things. And if a person can say stupid things, then a person can ask stupid questions.

People aren’t stupid. They just act that way sometimes.

Now sleep tight, sweet dreams, and don’t let the Night Watchman catch you out too late.

The Night Watchman 5.2.14

When counting sheep just won’t do the trick, it’s time to turn to the Night Watchman. As the late-night moderator of News4Mass, the Night Watchman leaves you with a morsel of thought-provoking insight that you can consider as you venture into dreamland.

If you were the headliner, about to rock 100,000+ people on a starry summer night, how would you prepare? Apart from being obnoxiously nervous, you’d likely tune your instruments. Which brings up tonight’s question – how did that come about?

I understand that musical notes can be perfectly in tune, but how was that system established? Who decided what the perfect pitch is? If they had made one slight difference in that decision, would all of our music sound funky?

Now sleep tight, sweet dreams, and don’t let the Night Watchman catch you out too late.

The Night Watchman 5.1.14

When counting sheep just won’t do the trick, it’s time to turn to the Night Watchman. As the late-night moderator of News4Mass, the Night Watchman leaves you with a morsel of thought-provoking insight that you can consider as you venture into dreamland.

What’s your elevator pitch? Business publications and professionals in collared shirts will tell you that if you don’t have your 30 second spiel ready, you’re almost guaranteed to fail. But don’t be nervous, I’m not here to hear your pitch. I’m here to ask why.

Think about how you define yourself. Once you have that established, ask yourself why. What moments led you to this definition? Where has your definition been defined?

Growth means that how you saw yourself in the past is not how you see yourself today. What experiences have caused that change? Think about it.

Now sleep tight, sweet dreams, and don’t let the Night Watchman catch you out too late.

The Night Watchman 4.30.14

When counting sheep just won’t do the trick, it’s time to turn to the Night Watchman. As the late-night moderator of News4Mass, the Night Watchman leaves you with a morsel of thought-provoking insight that you can consider as you venture into dreamland.

Think about how media driven our society is. How often do you google a company or look them up on Facebook/Twitter before making a decision? A company website has become a make-or-break advertisement, and it might not have anything to do with the company’s services. A consulting service needs to have a bland website with fake smiles and handshakes in order to get customers.

What happened to the days of trusting someone’s word about a company or service, rather than trusting a blind internet search? Why not ask the stranger leaving the business his or her thoughts about it, other than looking up an online review? Society is so digitalized that it’s killing our trust for anything without a social media presence.

Now sleep tight, sweet dreams, and don’t let the Night Watchman catch you out too late.

Eye Doctors: Cooler Than Everyone Else

As I have previously written, dentists are pretty terrible. Not necessarily their fault, I’ll cut them a break because they spend an entire day digging around in a stranger’s mouth inhaling that stranger’s unique breath scent of coffee and death. Nevertheless, dentists do not top the list of coolest people with a medical degree. With no further introduction, allow me to state my case for who I believe rightfully owns the number one ranking, an eye doctor. Why? Well, let’s see…

#1 Eye doctors don’t make you take off your clothes

The moment these become fashionable is the first real apocalyptic sign. (Photo via atissuejournal.com)

The moment these become fashionable is the first real apocalyptic sign. (Photo via atissuejournal.com)

Unless you’re the patient of a very strange, sexually aroused eye doctor (in which case you should be filing charges, not meandering on the internet!) the eye doctor will never require you to take off your street clothes and put on one of those weird, half-robe things that doesn’t flatter any physique. Eye doctors prefer you to be comfortable. Why? Because they’re damn cool.

I choose to wear the clothes I wear because those are the clothes I want to wear. Just because someone went to school for nearly ten years does not certify them to tell me to change clothes on a whim! Perhaps I chose to dress extra nice that day to impress Dr. Whoever-ski, so I don’t want to have to take off my beautiful outfit just to have my butt hanging out that awkward, starch-ridden robe thing (still not sure what to call it). Regardless I comply every time, but thankfully I never have to worry about that at the eye doctor, because eye doctors know that you dressed to impress and the eye doctor would never fail to reward your efforts.

#2 Eye doctors don’t suddenly inspect physical oddities

Almost totally exposed in your examination gown, and during the examination the doctor happens to see a weird spot on your back. Next thing you know you’re facedown on the examination table with eight different needles shoved in one arm, your legs spread wide and holstered to some beeping contraption and there’s a flustered man sitting beside you desperately trying to phone the President of the United States to inform him of the quarantine zone that’s just been implemented…

While that may be a stretch, it’s ALWAYS a possibility at the doctor’s office. Where is that rarely going to happen? The eye doctor. One, because you’re covered in your suave street clothes (Because damnit, when you dress up you look good). And two, because the doctor is there to look at your eyes. He won’t bother to inspect every inch of you (Unless you’re one big eyeball, then he’s just doing his job).

If I’m the carrier of a deadly epidemic I’d prefer to do it over my own terms, not be rushed in my decision by someone who just happened to spot the disease and also just happens to be educated enough to know to do something about it. Ridiculous.

#3 Eye doctors are paid just to mess with patients

Seems like it would be a deterring factor, right? But secretly, deep-down inside you wish you could say the same thing in your job. Seriously, has anyone had to undergo the test where the eye doctor puffs air into your eye suddenly and you naturally react violently as though you’ve just been stabbed, when it was just air? That test drives me crazy, but it has to be funny to watch.

The only scientific explanation for this machine is patient torture. (Photo via kendall-eye-institute.com)

The only scientific explanation for this machine is patient torture. (Photo via kendall-eye-institute.com)

Best of all, the doctor gets to do it twice! So, after surprising the patient once, the eye doctor gets the honor of watching the patient squirm as the machine is adjusted to do the other eye and the patient waits in terror for the next puff of air that one cannot help but freak out about. Also, the whole lens changing/testing process is probably a hoax. About ninety percent of the time I’m certain there is no difference in the lenses and the eye doctor is quietly giggling about how I’m struggling to come up with an answer about Option A or Option B.

Conclusion: Eye doctors are number one, but they’re too cool to even notice

While all the other doctors are vying for your love and attention, eye doctors are off being cool and doing eye doctor stuff. They don’t need countless sappy TV shows or the aspirations of young children to boost their confidence, they’re eye doctors. Just because no kid grows up with the dream of flipping lenses back and forth doesn’t discredit the coolness of an eye doctor. In actuality it boosts it. Those little kids with such dreams probably poop their pants and think falling down the stairs is funny. Eye doctors are too sophisticated for that kind of stuff, and in all seriousness if it wasn’t for eye doctors you might not be able to read this right now.

"My goodness, my ability to see again is so moving I think I'll karate chop everything!" (Photo via exacteyecare.com)

“My goodness, my ability to see again is so moving I think I’ll karate chop everything!” (Photo via exacteyecare.com)

If at this point you’re not writing a Thank You note to your favorite optometrist, you’re doing it wrong.

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The Night Watchman 4.29.14

When counting sheep just won’t do the trick, it’s time to turn to the Night Watchman. As the late-night moderator of News4Mass, the Night Watchman leaves you with a morsel of thought-provoking insight that you can consider as you venture into dreamland.

I’m back! Like the voice cracking you thought had passed in middle school, I’m back! Like all the copies of that photograph of you running around with underwear on your head that you thought you’d burned, I’m back! But I digress…

I’m back doing my passion, what have you given up? Would the version of yourself five years ago be proud of you today? Ten years ago? Fifteen? It’s a part of life to give up things and move on, but that doesn’t mean everything has to go to the wayside as you age. So what would you like to pick back up? Go for it!

Now sleep tight, sweet dreams, and don’t let the Night Watchman catch you out too late.