Saturday, 26 March 2011

Lonely breakfast - OR - The joys of business travel

I find executives are often sad and lonely.

On my first morning in the hotel that I stayed in for business purposes, I selected a table among the other guests although the hotel staff were looking at me suspiciously. I had a good breakfast, was reading the newspaper, watching (and listening to) other guests, observing the morning-peak hustle of staff, my time included chatting to some staff members, some greeting nods to fellow tourists/business people and overall I had a good time.
Later that day, I read through a letter detailing all benefits that came with my Executive status in the hotel. This also included access to the Executive Lounge. I'd thought I'd try..

The next morning, I went in there. And spent a lonely 45 minutes sitting on my own and kept the conversations to a minimum with my only two sentences: "Could I have the omelet, please?" and "Could I have another coffee, please?". The first day, it was only me in the Lounge.

The second day, there was one more woman who selected (from 8 choices) one of the tables where she did not have to look at me. No greeting, no smile, no nodding, no acknowledgment of existence.

Third morning, me and a man. A man with his iPad. Again, no greeting, no nodding, no acknowledgement. He was busy tapping on the black device in his hands instead of paying attention to what was going on around him.

One colleague of mine is happy sitting in a bar with his iPad as companion, not speaking to a soul. He might be on websites like Facebook, Twitter, reading blogs etc..(meaning he is not totally socially dysfunctional) but he openly discourages having to speak to other people by wearing earphones. In a bar. Other colleagues encourage and engage in chance encounters of meeting other people and starting a conversation. I find the latter have more stories to tell. Funny stories.

I am unsure if I can just blame this phenomenon on people's characters or if I believe that the many technological gadgets out there make us lonelier than we have to be.

Life is a game and you need to play it. What is it worth if you don't have stories to tell in the locker room afterwards?

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