They say that success is what happens when planning meets opportunity (perhaps with a little patience mixed in), and surely this episode is the best lesson when it comes to following that formula.
Pedott (Ernest Truex) is an elderly psychic peddler. Now there’s a unique job if there ever was one. Every night, he visits the same bar with a brief case of goods to sell – matches, string, cards, etc. He sizes up the booze hounds, picks out an item and says ever so ominously, “this is what you need.”
Case in point, a down and out baseball pitcher drowns his sorrows at the bar. His arm’s shot and in his opinion, that means life is over. He could never find happiness in any job outside of baseball.
Pedott talks the pitcher into buying a bus stop to Scranton, PA of all places. It seems silly until he gets a call – he’s been offered a job as a coach and suddenly, all seems right in his world again.
Meanwhile, Pedott talks a lonely woman into buying a bottle of cleaning fluid. When the pitcher remarks that he can’t show up to his new job wearing a stained suit, the woman is able to use her cleaning fluid as an ice breaker and suddenly, she’s found the love that has eluded her for so long.
Lesson? Your opportunity awaits. You just have to be prepared. In real life, maybe the preparation doesn’t come in the form of an item, but maybe it comes in the form of study, training, bettering yourself, being able to prove your worth when you are given a chance to do so.
While barflies are typically pleased to receive Pedott’s help, there’s a hole in the heart of the villainous Renard (Steve Cochran) that can never be filled. Renard has been beaten up by life and is perpetually angry. His hard breaks have left him irreversibly bitter.
Pedott sells Renard a pair of scissors, which Renard uses to save his own life. Later, a leaky pen leads to him winning $250 on a horse. Soon, Renard gets hooked on good fortune, but it’s never enough.
Whereas the pitcher and the lonely woman seized the good fortune the world offered them, Renard doesn’t grasp his lucky moments. Saving his own life doesn’t convince him to try harder to be a better man. An extra $250 doesn’t convince him to maybe invest, start a little business, do something to improve his life. No, he wants more, more more…he scoffs at his small lucky breaks. They just aren’t good enough.
What happens next? You’ll have to watch for the ironic twist, as no episode of this show would be complete without one. However, the message is clear. Luck exists. Good breaks will happen for those who prepare for them. Some may get better breaks than others but small breaks are nothing to sneeze at and should be embraced and made the best of.
If you’re feeling bitter…is it because you had bad breaks..or did you not make the most of what the world gave you? Sure, the pitcher had a better break – a coaching job. However, he prepared for it by working as a baseball player for years.
The lonely woman found a good break – a potential husband. She prepared for it by living the life of a good woman and being honest and looking hot and, oh come on, it was the 1960s. I suppose if this episode was made today she’d be sold an item that leads her to becoming the CEO of a major company or something.
Luck exists and yet, we also make our own luck. A break won’t matter if you aren’t prepared for it. You get out of the world what you put into it. Renard hadn’t put enough into the world…but perhaps if he’d been a more positive person, being saved from the near death experience and winning a sum of money that was pretty hefty in the 1960s might have good motivators for him to get his life in order. Instead, he doesn’t look at the old man with gratitude but rather, anger – as if luck isn’t a matter of combing preparation and opportunity but rather, as if luck is a metaphysical slot machine. Just give me another item, and another, and another…what have you got to sell me today old man? I’ll keep playing the odds and maybe I’ll get luckier and luckier without putting the preparation work in.
What do you think, 3.5 readers? Is luck real? Do we make our own luck? Maybe luck is real, but it only helps if we are prepared for it when it comes? What say you?
More importantly, as the title goes, “What do you need?” It’s a loaded question. What do you need in your life to be happy and what do you need to be ready when opportunity knocks on your door? Do you need a good job? What do you need to qualify for that job? Perhaps you’ll never be lucky enough to qualify for the job you want, but if you don’t seek out the proper credentials and experience, you’ll never be ready if that opportunity comes.
Do you need romance? What do you need to get it? Do you need to improve yourself? Maybe lose some weight, fix a few cosmetic, surface issues? Dress better? Drop a bad habit? Become more responsible?
What do you need and what do you need to get it?