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?"