So, I get onto the flight back from Germany and sit down next to a man in a cap and shellsuit. Before I’ve belted myself in he tells me that he only wears these clothes when he’s flying, because he flies a lot and he likes to be comfortable, but during the day he wears a suit and tie, for giving the demonstrations of the product he makes in the factory he owns out on the west coast of the US.
Then, he tells me about how he must be the only person on the plane who doesn’t have a mobile phone. Christ, he hates the things. One time he was in MIT and this university professor told him in the queue in the bookstore that technology enslaves while it liberates. Another time he was taking this girl out to dinner and she kept answering phone calls from her mother. So he said, you do that one more time, and I’ll walk out of this damn restaurant. So her mother called, and he got up and walked out, but paid the bill beforehand, even though they hadn’t arrived with the starter. She ran out of the restaurant after him, saying ok, ok, you proved your point. Another time a friend of his came out from Ireland to his beach house, and his friend got a call, so he walked out of the house and went down onto the beach for a half hour. When he got back to the house, his friend says, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to offend, and he says, no, I’m not offended, you can talk as much as you like; I just don’t want to have to listen to you.
Then, he asks me some recommendations for places to drink in Dublin, so I give him some, and he hands me his card, in case I want to look him up any time I’m on the west coast. Then he shows me his AT&T global calling card, and says, see this? This is my cellphone.
I thought he was a bit boastful, and he looked grey and tired, as though he’d spent too long doing this sort of thing, and at times he seemed to be a bit tired of his tales himself. But I thought he was ok. I’d rather talk to someone during the flight than not talk. There was a lot more to the conversation -talk about how to get the best room in the best hotel for discount rates, how to make sure that your flight won’t be delayed (get an early one), how some guys are able to give demonstrations the next day even though they’ve been out drinking till 5 in the morning but he can’t, his millionaire friends- and then we land.
At the baggage carousel I wish him the best, and he heads off before my case comes out. It’s half one in the morning and the queue for the taxi rank in Dublin airport is doubled over on itself, so I go right down to the end, and start queueing. The man said that he was going to get a taxi, but there’s no sign of him, and I figure that he’s already gone. Then, about 20 minutes later, I’ve made my way right to the front of the queue, which means that I’m right beside the people at the very end of the queue. I look across, and there he is, talking to someone else he’s met.
I’m about to say hello again, when I see that he’s got a mobile phone in his right hand, and he’s talking to someone. And I think, he must have asked the other person for the loan of his phone. Then he takes the phone -a very spiffing one indeed- and puts it into his own luggage. As I turn my head to make sure that he doesn’t see that I’ve seen him, I can see him looking my direction in the corner of my eye, but the taxi attendant comes to my relief by sending me up to the space where my taxi will come and take me home.