Thursday, December 30, 2010

Airplane Anonymity

Travel a lot?  If you do, this is probably not a new concept to you.  Frequent travelers have developed a whole host of coping strategies to get through hours of time in close proximity to strangers.  When I used to be in public office, it could be painful if my strategies failed.  As a result, I sort of became a master of avoidance and anonymity...

On airplanes, you are a trapped audience.  There is no escape, really, but with all of the full flights now there isn’t even a way to move seats for a little distance.  So, when I was a legislator, I would try very hard to avoid admitting what I do for a living.  I'd bring work to do, I'd put on my ipod (even if the battery is dead- still a great way to stop unwanted conversation), and I'd try to be completely settled in my seat and engrossed in something before the rest of my row mates would come to sit down next to me.  

If all of this failed and the natural conversation started with “So, what do you do?” I'd answer, “Oh, I just work for the state government.”  -- That is normally enough to frighten them and they would astutely recognize that continuing down this road would be boring and painful.

But, once in awhile, they would persist, “Oh, really?  What do you do for the government?”  I'd be coy as long as I could be without lying (there is always that nagging truth that they may actually recognize me).  “I work in the legislative branch.”

More?  “Oh, I mostly go to meetings and read a lot.”

And, if I really had to, I would offer, “Actually, I am responsible for writing bill language and amendments.  It’s sort of cool, I guess.”

This last one is brilliant because it takes the super nosey seat mate down a road that allows me to argue policy without acknowledging I was an actual policy maker.  And, I can present policy in very accessible and persuasive ways that just might allow me to take on the unsuspecting pupil as a new inductee into the School of Gorman... It isn’t entirely good sportsmanship, I suppose.  

But, I have been trapped next to rabid left wing goofballs who seem to think their opinion is so laden with compelling thought that I am going to abandon my world view, my free market philosophies, my love for rugged individualism and perhaps even join hands and sing a camp fire song with them.  Again, for the record, nothing you can say which you have gleaned from your email blasts is going to convert me.  It WILL make my ride miserable, however.

So, I avoid the conversation.  It is one of the few rights to privacy I have managed to cling to all of these years… my airplane anonymity.

This post is dedicated to the handful of friends I have made when I experience system failure with my whole strategy.  You all know who you are because you all said to me at the end of the flight, "I don't normally talk to the people next to me on flights!"  And THAT is how I knew we were going to be life long friends! :)

1 comment:

  1. Your strategies remind me of my own. Sometimes reading a conservative book sparks good conversations when people see what I'm reading. I've found the lefties are too self-absorbed to notice.

    Thank you for your public service! Be proud of it--it takes courage and integrity to run these days.


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