Monday, October 8, 2018

"Status Symbols"

They go in both directions, you know.

“I bought a new Tesla.”

That’s the celebrating “Up” direction.

And then there’s the other direction.

Exemplified – drawn from personal experience – by the following.

Nearing the end of my career, my longtime agent invites me for “Coffee.”

Can you envision the ignominy?  Your agent for decades, who once took you to ballgames, you attended parties at his house, lunched in elegant surroundings, introduced to passing “A List” celebrities…

is now inviting you… 

For coffee.

Not quite “Rock Bottom” – which would be “accidentally meeting on the street” – but, it’s a signaling indicator.  What’s the opposite of “The light at the end of the tunnel”?

I suppose it’s the tunnel.

Some people are highly sensitive to unspoken diminishments.  That cohort of “Hair-Trigger Umbrage Takers” – not proud to say it – would, unfortunately, include me.

A man, getting his first book published, wondering,

“How come the paper’s so thin?”

(A hypothetical example. I’ve never had a book published. But if I did, and noticed cheap, “Onion Skin” paper, you can bet I would vociferously speak up.)

Being a “Charter Member” of the “Delicate Feelings Club”, it will not surprise you to find me skeptically pondering, as I did yesterday afternoon,

“What does it mean when someone calls you from the airport?”

Something’s troublingly amiss here.  You haven’t heard from them in months.  Then suddenly it’s,

“Earl?  It’s (NAME WITHHELD, BECAUSE WHY DOES IT MATTER?) I’m calling you from the airport.”

Right away, I find myself “One-Down.”  They’re off on some glorious adventure.  And I’m home, taking a nap.

(That’s why I didn’t pick up till the third “ring.”  I was waiting to recover my “Awake” voice.)  

But that is not principal issue.  With my “Personal Affront Mechanism” registering “Red Alert”, I detect a subliminal message being conveyed. 

Somebody calls me from the airport.  

What exactly does that mean?

I know what I immediately imagineit means.  (Because I was there when I immediately imagined it.) 

A “bored-to-tears” passenger, stuck in the designated “Departure Lounge”, wrestling between “Should I call someone I don’t care about, or get a ‘Ten-Minute Massage?’”  Which, for all I know, they may have already enjoyed, and found there was still a crushing hour-and-a-half before “Takeoff.”  I see a tortured traveler, “this close” to wandering to the window, watching them unloading the luggage.  

It was between that, and giving me a call.

And who knows?  I may not even be the “First Choice” time-killing call-ee.  There could have been countless others, unavailable for the honor, and it casually “Defaulted” to me.  

And they had to tell me they were at the airport.  They could have easily pretended.

“I’m here at home, sitting in my living room, and I just thought I would give you a ‘jingle.’”

But no.  It was the first thing out of their mouth – the denigrating announcement:  

“Here’s how little you matter to me.  I am calling you from the airport.”    

Out of accumulated New Yorkers to catch up on?  Disinterested in sampling the colorful “Neck Pillows”? Unable to close their eyes, catching “a few winks” before ‘Boarding’” because a nearby caller’s talking to someone they don’t care about either, covering their apathy with amplified excitement?

“I think I’ll call Earl.”

You wonder how low on the emotional “Totem Pole” a person can slide?

I will tell you how low.

I was actually happy they called.


FFS said...

After posting this, I suspect that you won’t be getting any more airport calls. From anyone! However, tomorrow I’ll be in the Puerto Plata airport for a couple of hours ... .

YEKIMI said...

It can go lower. Sometimes I get no calls for so long that when my phone rings, I go "What's THAT noise?" and then realizing it's my phone, having to brush a light layer of dust off it to answer.