It’s been a while since I travelled to London on business, so I’d forgotten what a surreal experience sitting in the departure lounge in London City airport was.After the usual trip through security, with the obligatory worry that I’d set the beepers off, then disgrace myself by giggling when frisked (it tickles!), I planted myself beside Gate 1 and wondered how long my flight would be delayed for.
I don’t think it had ever really occurred to me before just how many people travel up and down the country every day on business – no wonder the government’s worried about our carbon footprint. I think I’ll start taking the train from now on – both in the interests of the environment and to keep me away from that departure lounge.
In my experience, the London City lounge is an odd parallel universe where otherwise intelligent and confident women (i.e. me) find themselves wandering aimlessly through shops, boredom-buying peach lip gloss.
Departure lounges, particularly during business travel, seem to encourage me to behave in ways I would usually find unacceptable in everyday life. For example, having had breakfast at home, and knowing I’ll get a second breakfast on the plane I am quite comfortable buying a sandwich to have in the departure lounge before I board. My literary tastes take a spectacular nose-dive and I buy trashy novels to read on the plane, that then have to sit uncomfortably on my bookshelves at home between Jane Austen and E.M. Forster.
It makes me wonder if the myriad of high-powered businesspeople I see around me are similarly affected. Looking to my left and right I can see rows and rows of suited and booted gentlemen poring over their laptops – is there a sneaky Danielle Steel novel hidden behind one or two of the screens? One of them gets up and walks to the bathroom, I wonder if he too bought an unnecessary peach lip gloss and just can’t wait to try it out…
I suspect not.
The thought crosses my mind that I might be irretrievably frivolous, undisciplined and immature. Does this mean that unsuited as I am to the tedium of business travel, I‘m no good for business in general either?
It’s odd that a simple change in environment can precipitate such a drop in confidence levels. I suppose I’m so used to working in a small team where everybody’s ready at a moment’s notice to have a giggle or a gossip, that I forget what the real world of business can be like, and how different from that stereotype I’ve become since I started working here.
In any event, I don’t suppose I’m going to change my ways now. It’s been a few years since I started with the business travel malarkey and I’ve not been able to find a way of making myself appear more credible while I’m doing it to date!
So I’ve just resigned myself to the likelihood of remaining the bored (but immaculately lip-glossed) woman in a bright coloured jacket, sheepishly trying to concentrate on her chick-lit while a multitude of proper businesspeople tap away on their blackberries and laptops.
I daresay if I throw a glass of wine into the mix now and then, I might even stop worrying about it too.