Thursday, December 08, 2005

Field Studies in Business Class or When Screaming Babies Grow Up

I'm writing this from an AirBus bound for LAX. Sitting across the aisle are two salesmen for an indeterminable product or service. One is the seasoned account executive, and the other is the hungry young protege. The species in question almost always travels in this formation, but sometimes with a sulky designer sitting back in coach noodling away on a PowerBook and dreading having to share a taxi and pehaps a meal at somewhere nice like Hooters with the two upon arrival. The vast wisdom of the elder (not much older than me, wearing pressed jeans and dock siders) is shared with the apprentice at his side with great enthusiasm and volume - meaning both plentiful and loudly. We have been in the air for approximately two hours, with three to go. In this time, I have been treated to such fine examples of the english language as "six and one half dozen of the other", "on the same page", "at the end of the day", "political capital" and countless other gems. What is most fascinating about this particular breed is their ability to have lengthy conversations entirely strung together by a series of cliches, puns and buzz words from trade journals and business weeklies. There is truly no sentiment which cannot be expressed by cutting and pasting catch phrases, and it is with great mastery that these phrases are assembled into what seem like sentences and delivered with such confidence that one must conclude that deliverer is a great expert on the fascinating matter at hand, whatever that matter may be. The strings of cliches are further punctuated by stating painfully obvious facts as if they are brilliant revelations, precluded by a pause to assure proper attention. It is with much appreciation on my part that the elder speaks at such a volume that not only he can hear how good he sounds, but every single person within ten rows can appreciate his insights and clever anecdotes - which are almost as hilarious as a Family Circus cartoon. ("Ooh, that feisty Not Me is up to it again!") Yes, these are the guys who the ads in the backs of airline magazines for motivational seminars and monogramed dick warmers... oops, I mean Blackberry holders... are written for. I have a ball point pen pressed against my jugular right now, just in case the phrase "think outside the box" is uttered.

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