The Dunder Mifflin Blues

By: Dahlia Laury  |  March 22, 2020

By Dahlia Laury, Staff Writer

“So where are you from?” they ask me, innocently enough. 

“Pennsylvania,” I answer simply. 

“Oh, like Philadelphia?” 

I laugh and respond, “No, I’m from Scranton.” And then I wait for the inevitable and all-too-frequent reaction: “Like, as in The Office?” They always seem so surprised. 

Of course, that is not the only response I receive: Sometimes I get, “Do you watch The Office?,” “Do you know Michael Scott?,” or the all-too-creative ones such as, “Does your Dad work for Dunder Mifflin?,” “Does everyone ask you if you watch The Office?,” etc. The frustrating part is that people are just trying to make conversation; but for me, it is the umpteenth time I am having the exact same dialogue. Yet every time I have to act as if it is unique, and they are so impressive for putting two and two together.

Nevertheless, I almost always respond positively. I laugh it off, tell them how clever they are for bringing up a television show related to my hometown, and then hope they don’t bring it up again. Truth be told, I never even saw the show until I came to college — and I did so only because I didn’t want to feel foolish when confronted with questions about my hometown that I couldn’t answer.

People from Brooklyn aren’t asked if they know Detective Diaz from Brooklyn 99, those from Los Angeles are rarely confronted about Jessie from New Girl, and even NYCers are not asked if they know Joey and Phoebe from Friends! Scranton is just more unique because we only have one show based off of our obscure city.

I shouldn’t be complaining, really, because the one great thing about being from Scranton is that it makes me a memorable person. People see me and say, “Oh yeah, she’s the girl that’s from that place from ‘The Office’.” Of course, I do hope there is more of me that would be memorable, but I guess it’s something to start off with anyway.

Now, if you got to this point in the article, I’m impressed because people don’t really appreciate or care for an article that is irrelevant to them, myself included. So let me try and make this more relevant. What I learned from the past three years of being known as “That Scranton Girl, like where ‘The Office’ is from,” is that first impressions are really powerful. The way you react and speak and respond in first interactions shapes the way someone views you. Even though time and time again, I’ve heard the same things about the same show whenever I mention where I grew up, I will still always try to respond kindly.

Every time I meet someone new, how are they supposed to know how often I hear the same responses? Why is it fair for me to roll my eyes and tell them they are not unique? It is just unnecessary and ruins any first impressions that I would have.  

Every person has something distinctive, special, and different about themselves. One person may be a great singer and everyone will always ask them to sing; one person may be an artist and will always be asked to draw a picture; another person may be from a large family and everyone acts incredulous every time they find out. So what? Yes, it may be irritating to keep hearing the same reactions, it may be aggravating to keep pretending you never heard it before, but who cares? These people are interacting and creating conversations to get to know you better. It is a waste of your energy and time to blow them off just because you deal with the same dialogue so often.

There is enough hate, animosity, and just sheer stupidity in everyday inane conversations. When something about you is interesting to others, take it for what it is. Be proud. Every time.

There is a lot I have learned over my college career, but I think this is one of the most important lessons I gained. Everyone has something to share, everyone has something to talk about — the thing that makes them who they are. Learn from them and be patient, let them learn from you and be even more patient.