Thursday, August 18, 2005

Talkie Talk

Originally Posted December 1, 2004

There are two types of conversations that are held on cell phones by my fellow road warriors. The first is a plea for help on a technical issue or the boasting of a sale just closed. These are the business calls. Declarative affirmations or cutting words of unacceptance are shortly shot across the wireless spectrum to praise or abuse the person on the receiving end. "The system did what? That is unacceptable – get on this with Johnson and Jacobs! It had better be solved by the time I land." "You should have seen his face when I said 12! 12! Can you believe that he bought at 12? It's only worth 8, 9 tops!" These calls are the heartless cries of being away from the thing you control. Mid level and high end manager types who feel pinched between the multitude of over paid and over promising VP's who haven't had to live with a decision they've made in three years (when they were a little director) and the promise of taking part in the quarterly profits. I do not like to hear these conversations.

The second kind of conversation I usually catch part way through with the phrase "What does Mr. Sponge Bob say?" To think men of my age and superior intellect would call him "Mr. Sponge Bob" when he is clearly "Mr. Square Pants," Sponge Bob is his Christian name. It usually continues with "now that is not a reason to not go to school. You have to go to school tomorrow." There are often a lot of pet names thrown in like "Pal" and "Sport." You know that the daughter has him wrapped around the finger with "honey," "sugar,"and "sweetie pie." These cold giant's of corporate industry dressed in long winter coats dragging wheeled carts to the next flight trying to make "the deal" melt when the voice on the red hot cellphone covered in bile from the last conversation softly asks "when are you coming home daddy?"

The road is a dangerous place. It is not for the weak of heart or the thin skinned, especially between Halloween and New Years day. I have been witness to grown men being taken down in twenty yards, like a sick elk on the Serengeti, from one phone call. They cower in the corner of crowded airports pointer finger in one ear trying to listen better, promising that "daddy will be home soon." In recent days people have pulled me aside to tell me they have figured out the "real meaning" of things and that work is only there to pay the bills. I call them weak. They lack focus and drive! We need people ready to work, and if they are not, give me the assignment because I can get the job done! Wait… that's my cell… I'll have to get back to you… "Pauly will be home soon. What does Mr. Square Pants say?"


  1. I loved to travel for work when I was single and had no children. Now, however, being gone more than home is simply not something I can fathom. Life on the road is tough even for those who don't have someone at home. I had many lonely nights in hotel rooms in places I would never even dream of visiting. The worst was when you would get a crew called "slam clickers." They go thier rooms when you land, slam the door, click the lock. You know you are on your own to eat, drink,explore, or do anything at your destination. Not a fun crowd.

    I've seen these men you speak of who melt on the cell phones to the voice of their children. They look more disheveled than before and the longing takes precident on their facial expressions. It's a sad thing to watch. I always wondered why they didn't let someone else have that job too, someone who wants it and loves to travel, someone who takes interest in the possibilities at the next stop and the people they will meet. You do sound like that person. I hope you get to travel again soon. Got anything planned?

  2. I start to travel again next month. So you can read about my adventures in Las Vegas, San Francisco, Phoenix, and New York this fall. Depending on the price, you may read about another trip to Hawaii over the holidays.

    If there were strings, I wouldn’t be “everywhere man,” I would be “phone-headset-jockey.”

  3. you are very good at my game...your input and additions to the stories are awesome. THanks!

  4. Ha! Ha! I like that name-phone headset jockey! Can't wait to hear about your travels and happenings. How wonderful to go to Hawaii, I hope you get to go! I've never been, but hope to go someday.

  5. Christa – the irony is, people say that, but last year when I had enough miles to take someone with me, I couldn’t get a soul to go. Free ticket and hotel room, and no one could get away. I don’t have nearly enough miles this year for two.

    Allison – fun game, we used to play a game similar to yours in Chicago called “and then.” I think they still play it on Whose Line is it Anyway?

    Sweet and fair, Miladysa, it’s a pleasure to have you join us.

  6. I won front row tickets to a Tina Turner concert in Chicago on the radio when I was living there. I called all of my friends, anyone I could think of and offered to fly them for free with my buddy passes. I couldn't get anyone to come to the concert with me. I didn't go, instead I stayed home and felt bummed for days. Aren't we both just a sad couple when it comes to travel partners?

  7. Oh man, private dancer down the drain. Yes we are.