When I overhear meetings on trains, I just want to butt in
The train between London and Leeds in the middle of the day is a prime venue for meetings. Most of them are phone meetings: on a recent trip north, I was sat with two guys saying “Sorry, tunnel” into their headphones, and I found it quite easy not to intervene and just sat there, smirking on the inside.
On the way home, though, two young women opposite were having a real-life get-together, starting – in that bonding way women do – with a disposition on how nice absent Person A was. She’s really nice. Everyone loves her. “She probably isn’t that nice,” I wanted to add. “People who everyone loves are always playing some devilish game.” She is also really gorgeous, totally beautiful, both parties present wished they looked like her. At this point I had to leave and check out the buffet car, otherwise I would have said: “Don’t wish that! You both look great. If I took a picture of you right now on a train, you would look back in 20 years and say: ‘I can’t believe how great I looked.’”
When I got back with some BBQ Beef Hoola Hoops, one was saying to the other: “There are three numbers here: 230, 285 and 310. Shall we just take one of them out?” I still had no idea of the nature of their business. One mentioned Tesco and the other mentioned skincare wipes, but they could have been describing their main competitor, or their plan once they reached King’s Cross. Nevertheless, plainly, someone had to say: “There’s quite a lot of difference between those numbers, don’t just take one out, maybe figure out why there are three of them.” And since I was closest, it really should have been me. I filled my face with Hoops. It was the only way not to talk. My desire to manage people, despite never having been in charge of anything, is a mysterious and powerful thing.