Pittsburgh International Airport – I got here early because, you know, TSA. It is a Tuesday afternoon though and I got through security in 20 minutes. 10 trips this year; zero body cavity searches. I am on a hot streak but now have 90 minutes to kill. I have a big meeting on the other side of this flight to Dallas, so the airport bar is out. I don’t care about Pokemon and I’m terrified of those airport massage parlors. So, much to the delight of my FitBit, I go wandering and eventually find the magazine stand. I know why they call it a stand, but I have been standing here for 20 minutes in my mostly comfortable and passably stylish shoes and my shoulder bag which is too heavy because I packed my laptop AND iPad, my latte in the other hand cooling down. My eyes dart between the literary equivalents of the angel and devil on my shoulder. The angel is the latest issue of The Economist. It challenges my vocabulary, eyesight, and grasp of foreign policy, and is the reason I immediately feel inferior in any conversation including an English accent. The devil, the fun devil, is People Magazine. That heralded pop culture guilty pleasure that, which it does not contain the Queen’s English, includes wonderful tales of Princesses Kardashian, Aniston, and Gaga and, of course, the beach escapades of Princes Pitt, Effron and, this week, an actual Prince Harry.
Which to choose: ten page long essays on German markets or a magazine I can read cover to cover in 11 minutes and come out smelling like the latest perfume?
My company pays me, presumably, because they think I am smart, reliable, and represent them well on the road. What would that person read? The Economist, naturally! Yet they also want me to be personal and be conversant at the inevitable Happy Hour that will follow this Dallas meeting (and, god forbid the steak dinner afterwards) and People magazine has a picture of Tony Romo in the upper right corner. Men can buy Sports Illustrated or Men’s Health and nobody bats an eye.
Why can they read about A-Rod and I am scorned for reading about A-dele?
Then, of course, there is the person I (like every female business traveler) often forget: me! I got here early, left my family behind, worked late the night before, and will undoubtedly work late tonight. I deserve a few minutes of R&R before Dallas, right? Between now and 3:30pm Dallas time, I can be me. Me without co-workers. Me without macaroni and cheese, ketchup and toast requests for lunch. Just me. I deserve what I want for this brief window between serving hot dogs and serving my company. So, who am I? In reality, I am a little Economist and a little People Mag. So I’ll get a Time Magazine and move on to my gate and maybe download a novel on that iPad.
Journey On, Janes. 📚