There’s something about sitting in an airport terminal, particularly when I’m delayed and stuck for hours in a place I’d prefer to leave, that ends up with me hating the world and every single person in it.
There’s usually a Supermom Working Parent sitting near me, carrying on some kind of superior conversation with some poor victim she has trapped in her web. In no particular order, I’ve heard these women cover the following topics: how amazing and wonderful it is to live and work in Manhattan; how amazing and wonderful her children are, particularly since neither of them (of course she has a boy and a girl – how perfect, right?) has ever so much as touched a video game remote control and would have no idea what to do with one if they had.
She then moves on to the fact that her family rarely watches anything as mindless as television – and when they do, they watch independent films together and generally find time to discuss them afterward. Of course they do. How could people as brilliant as they be engaged by anything else?
She usually finds time to describe her charming but smallish apartment on the Upper West Side but justifies it by saying: who needs another closet? Isn’t it preferable that the kids are growing up in the greatest city on the planet and aren’t we so much more than our possessions, anyway? Sure, we are; that's a wonderful attitude. That’s just great. So is a closet of your own. Must they be mutually exclusive? And if living in the city is so spectacular, why do all those people hop on Metro North at the end of every day? To go home and open up their closet doors? I don’t think so. I think maybe a patch of green they call their own factors into that trip every day.
On my latest trip, I was stuck near a Super Working Mom who shared her marvelous life story with a man originally from India. After enduring her lecture with enormous good cheer and more patience than I would have in seven lifetimes, he described his early life – in a much more low key way – and told her he grew up with his parents and six siblings in a home that consisted of three rooms: a living room, a kitchen and a bedroom. Now, believe it or not, she could relate to that. They were clearly of likes minds when it came to possessions. I don’t remember him saying this was some kind of statement his parents were making about doing more with less and connecting with things that really matter; things like IFC and competitive chess championships. In fact, I’m pretty positive the home around him as a child was all his family could hope for at that point in his life. And by the way, he doesn't live like that now with his own family.
I also found myself literally trapped on a plane directly behind or directly in front of the Super Business Woman who feels like she has to justify how brilliant and important she is. It becomes a contest between her and her conversation victim: who’s travelled where and why and how often, who knows more about a particular client, who is clearly indispensable when it comes to managing her business.
This makes me INSANE. I don’t understand people who feel the need to download their very special, very amazing, very admirable and indulgent lives to perfect strangers in a terminal lounge or in an airplane. PLEASE! Not one of us cares. Not one of us.
But I do have a few headlines for these women:
1. You’re not the only working mother on the planet. You’re really not. Millions of us have children who are just as brilliant, just as amazing, just as gifted as your own. They are talented, unique and loving. We just choose not to lecture strangers about them or about how amazing our own parenting skills are. How we’re just so enlightened. So insightful. SHUT UP! You’re just not all that special.
2. We all have work stories. We just don’t shout them from Row 9 in a plane. Not all of us feel compelled to talk about who we met, what we do or how we’re so creative and critical to the business at hand.
3. Ummmm…when you mention that your daughter is riding in a horse show tomorrow, we all get it: you’re rich. We get it. No doubt your darling is an amazing horsewoman; just amazing. So go watch her ride for god’s sake and leave the rest of us out of it.
I know this sounds incredibly bitter. Maybe it is. I just don’t understand this kind of communication. When I sit down in a plane, this is what I say to the person sitting next to me: “Hello.” I’m not kidding. That’s it. I very, very rarely engage in a personal way. I can’t understand people who do.
I think airlines would make a lot more money with one small change to their terminals and flights. If they had a silent section in the terminal, I'd go out of my way to sit there. If they offered silent flights, I'd take them, even if it meant a slightly longer trip. It would be worth it.
But it takes all kinds, right? Sure it does. I just don’t understand why they always congregate around me.