19 de julio de 2006

Tales from the tormented traveller

Aprovecho retraso de mi avión y entrada de Adams para recomendar mi libro de Mintzberg favorito

I’m sitting at the Oakland airport. The airline claims my flight will be delayed one hour, but I know that’s only the opening bid. I’m suspicious of round numbers. If they said the flight was going to be 47 minutes late, I’d think they had a good handle on things. But one hour is the same as saying, “Honestly, we don’t even know how those big metal things stay in the air.”

I’m a bit jumpy anyway because I’m getting married in a few days. I tell everyone I’m not nervous about it but that doesn’t square with the fact that ever time I eat a sandwich it falls straight down my throat, out my ass, down my pant leg and just sits there just looking at me. It’s not even dirty. So I tell the kids I made an extra sandwich and see who wants it. No point in wasting food. Anyway, my point is that I’m already a bit on edge today. And then the worst thing happened: A phone whore sat down next to me.

In case you are not familiar with a term that I just made up, a phone whore is a woman who goes to the airport with no magazines, laptops, books, puzzles or other means to entertain her. All she has is a phone, and she’s going to use it, no matter how many people are annoyed.

To be gender fair, every flight I’ve been on has at least one man who needs to bellow away on his phone until the flight attendant starts slapping him with a rolled up in-flight magazine. But that guy isn’t a phone whore. He’s a phone asshole. It’s a subtle difference.

The phone whore is motivated by the desire to talk with people. The phone asshole is motivated by the need to have everyone on the flight know he’s negotiating important business deals and that he has staff members that must receive his wisdom. The phone asshole sounds like this: “ALLEN, THIS IS BOB. LET’S NAIL DOWN THAT AJAX DEAL EVEN IF WE HAVE TO THROW ANOTHER TEN MILLION AT IT. REMEMBER THAT QUALITY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN PRICE. THAT’S SOMETHING I’VE BEEN TRYING TO TEACH JOE, FRANCINE, AND ERIC, WHO ALL WORK FOR ME IN CASE ANYONE LISTENING ISN’T ALREADY IMPRESSED WITH MY HUGE BARREL CHEST AND UNNATURALLY DEEP VOICE.”

The phone whore sounds more like “Hi, this is Mindy. How’s your new kitten?”

See? Completely different.

Within seconds of sitting, the phone whore starts dialing. I don’t know if she’s calling people in alphabetical order or what, but she’s six calls into it, and it’s obvious there will be no end. I could move to another seat, but I like my seat, and I suffer from an irrational form of optimism that tells me she “only has a few calls left.” Surely I can endure a few calls.

But rationally, I know that her only options for the next two hours of waiting for our delayed flight are:

1. Stare straight ahead
2. Annoy the living piss out of me by blabbing on her phone

To make matters worse, a crazy-talker just sat on my right. This one is a guy with a laptop, traveling alone, who feels the need to express astonishment and disgust at whatever the hell he’s looking at. It’s an invitation to converse, but I’m doing my best Helen Keller impression and hoping the Pakistani guy on his other side takes the bait.

To recap, I’ve got a phone whore on my left, a crazy-talker on the right, a sandwich in my pant leg, and I’m pretending to be blind and deaf. Meanwhile I’m waiting for some disgruntled mechanic to determine how much wadded toilet paper it will take to plug a hole in the fuselage and get my plane to the gate.

Otherwise it’s a good trip so far.

Entrada en Dilbert Blog
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