I worked at EB Games back in the mid-2000’s. Like many jobs, the people I worked with were great, but the job itself stunk.
While working there, I learned some great lessons from my manager Greg. He was a decade older than me, and his life was a mess, but he was great at putting things into perspective. He had this natural ability to see through all the chaos and point out some of the simplest solutions. There were several things he said to me that have stuck in my head almost twenty years later. One of my favorites was, “You can only play one game at a time.”
He said that in response to someone who was trading in a huge collection of games and was struggling. The customer’s video game addiction was causing issues in their life and so, they decided to sell their collection, and only own one game at a time. As the customer went back and forth, obviously torn at his decision, Greg chimed in casually with, “You know, you can only play one game at a time.”
This seemed to alleviate the customer’s concerns when he realized Greg was right. You can only play one game at a time, and by having just one game, the man could save his marriage. The customer traded in his collection, got the cash, and bought just one new game. He left the store smiling.
I think about this comment a lot. In a world where we are oversaturated with choices, it’s a humble reminder that we can only do one thing at a time. Recently, I was advising a friend who was struggling with his finances. He had half a dozen streaming services and couldn’t stomach the thought of not having them all at his fingertips. I thought of Greg and the quote, and I reminded my friend, you can only watch one thing at a time and that any single streaming service had more entertainment than we had access to our entire childhoods. This seemed to put things into perspective and my friend managed to close several subscriptions.
Recently, I’ve been experimenting with this idea myself. I put a couple of my streaming services on hold, and the Roku stick I have in my living room only has Paramount+ logged in. I decided this week to leave it that way. Although, Paramount+ doesn’t get a ton of a play in my house, I do have a list of things to watch on there. So, this week, my lack of choices forced me to pick from what I had on Paramount+ and ya know what? I survived and arguably even thrived.
I didn’t waste near as much time as I usually do bouncing between services trying to find that perfect thing to watch. I managed to get caught up on EVIL and even watched Patriot Games, a movie I hadn’t seen since I was a kid and probably wouldn’t have watched otherwise. And ya know what? I enjoyed the heck out of it.
When I reframed my mind that whatever was streaming here was all I had to pick from, it was easy to choose. I filtered through and picked the best and most appealing and I enjoyed it. I was able to just commit to watching whatever I chose instead of the normal, “Do I really want to watch this or am I feeling that new show on Netflix?” I cannot even begin to count how many times I’ve started a movie or show and turned it off ten minutes and go to another streaming service, watched ten minutes there and then gone back.
I fondly recall those days of renting a movie at the video store and being stuck with it. Good or bad, it was all you had to watch so you usually sat through it. Who knew, I’d ever be nostalgic for less choices.