Anything I can do to help

I’m awfully fond of the CBC, as you know, and I’m not talking about the blood test here. It’s amazing that our national station has survived despite all the cuts it has endured in recent years. Every so often it even creates a gem.

I was getting bored of Border Security reruns–how many times can you watch a disgusted customs officer pull a rotting snake out of a jar?–so I happened upon another airport show created by our national station. It’s called Hello Goodbye and it’s a reality series that takes place in the ginormous Toronto Pearson airport.

A nice fellow who describes himself as a psychotherapist wanders up to people who are Helloing or Goodbyeing and asks them all sorts of intrusive questions about their relationship. Within minutes, these strangers are sharing intimate details of their lives for the camera. The interviews are edited so these conversations go from 0 to 100 in intimacy within seconds, to be broadcast later for public consumption. We feel like we are eavesdropping on their private lives.

Why do I like this show? The person who came up with the premise of the show is brilliant. There is so much intense emotion with all the comings and goings at the airport. No wonder it always makes me cry. The stories are so moving, the people so loving and open and so brave to share their stories publicly.

But the intensity of their expressed emotion makes me nervous. Is anyone following up with these poor folks after they bear their souls? It feels like a one-shot psychotherapy session with no plans for future contact. Let’s expose all those vulnerable issues and leave you to sort them out yourself.

I’m recalling a particularly compelling spot between a loving father and his adult daughter, who was about to return to work in another city on the other side of the country. The closeness between the two was obvious, and both of them were quick to tears through the interview. She’d never told her father that she was planning on resettling in her new location until that day on camera. After his daughter left for her flight, the camera followed the dad to a bench, where he sat down and started weeping.

This is very tender and all, but the poor guy looked absolutely devastated by his daughter’s departure. Is anyone going to be there to help him work through these feelings, or is he going to be crying in the car all the way home? If you’ve ever driven the highways near Toronto, and Highway 401 in particular, you’ll know why crying while driving is contraindicated. Evoking this kind of emotion without follow-up support is irresponsible, at least in my view.

Creative thinker that I am, I’ve come up with the perfect solution: As these devastated interviewees are leaving the scene, overwhelmed with emotion, hand them my card. I’d be glad to help them resolve all those issues the interview raised. Heck, I could use a few new cases; I’ve got time on my hands since my doctors don’t want much to do with me lately. Sometimes I’m so altruistic, I can’t stand it.

Two women in teary embrace at airport


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