Berry Picking

The place: the people mover between the plane and the terminal at Dulles Airport last Friday. The time: about 3:30 on Friday afternoon.

As soon as they sat down, the people on either side of me whipped out their BlackBerries or BlackBerry-equivalents, as did two people standing up. “This is always scary,” said the woman on my right to her standing companion, loudly enough to let us all know that, important as she was, the eight-hour flight from London would have meant a vast accumulation of e-mails demanding her immediate attention. A true candidate for Pseuds’ Corner.*

Once upon a time, people spent a few hours on a plane or went away on vacations, and their companies actually soldiered on without them. Whatever had to be done was done by someone else (if it was really that important) or else waited until they got back to work after the trip.

I doubt that the urgency of work-related tasks has increased significantly over the years, and I suspect that the business calls conducted loudly on cell phones from buses and metro trains and the compulsive e-mail checking over restaurant lunches are frequently unnecessary and can probably be summed up by a cartoon I saw some time ago in the New Yorker. A man is sitting in an empty subway car, mobile phone to his ear. The caption is, “Do you mind if I call you back later when there’s someone around to overhear?”

*Pseuds’ Corner: for the uninitiated, see Private Eye.
Not my picture of the berries. I didn’t have the nerve to whip out my camera and photograph the important people around me, so I took this off a gardening Web site. I’ve forgotten which one, so I can’t properly credit it, but if notified, I will.


6 Responses to Berry Picking

  1. mariemcc says:

    Glad I’ll never be that “important.” Maybe one day I’ll even be able to operate my cell phone without consulting the manual first.

  2. Dan Ward says:

    Welcome back! I recall reading a suggestion of how to deal with an obnoxious cellphone chatter.

    Whip out your own and start loudly complaining about “Some idiot sitting next to me, yelling into his cell phone. How obnoxious! (pause) No, I’m sure he can’t hear me. I’m talking on a cell phone.”

  3. Elisabeth says:

    Welcome back! Hope your trip was tons of fun. Yeah, I hate those self-important folks who whip out their blackberries and cell phones in public, just to discuss trivial matters. The worlds of work and leisure are constantly intermingling – I get e-mails from students on weekends, and often have to remind them that I will not respond to them then.

  4. Love a good berry smoothie… Yum!

  5. Gerald says:

    I was on a train in North Wales last year and a young woman was on the phone obviously setting up some kind of drug deal and using the c and f words loudly and frequently. We asked the guard to ask her to at least moderate her language but only resulted in “oh I might be late as some **** wants to me **** thrown off the **** train”. I suspect the police caught up with her before long.

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