Technically speaking, I am a businessman, using the definition of the word in its loosest possible way.
The definition of a businessman is:
A person, esp a man, engaged in commercial or industrial business, esp as an owner or executive.
Let’s look at that a little more closely.
A person – yes, I think I qualify as a person.
Esp a man – especially a man. I thought that you had to be a man to be a businessman and a woman to be businesswoman. Businesswoman has its own definition in the dictionary as does businessperson. So am I a businessman or a businessperson? Or both? I know one thing for certain – I am definitely NOT a businesswoman.
Engaged in commercial or industrial business – I’m not going let slip exactly what I do – apart from spending my entire day swearing at computers and the people who buy and use them. I guess that counts as industrial business.
Esp as an owner or executive – sadly no! I do not own my business nor am I an executive.
Nevertheless, I guess I do count as a businessman – albeit a plastic businessman.
My job involves travel, and when I am fortunate enough to get a trip abroad, I look forward to the prospect of visiting different countries. I don’t look forward to the work when I get there and spend the journey planning ways to escape the business prison and explore strange and exciting lands.
Anybody who has travelled will see businessmen at the airport as they check in, wait for their flight, fly, land, arrive, pick up their bags and depart to set the business world alight with their business stuff.
For fun, I would like to compare myself and my own travel experiences, the Plastic Businessman, with the stereotypical businessman, the Proper Businessman.
The Proper Businessman will arrive at the airport in a taxi and march with determination towards the check in desk. He will be wearing a suit, even if he is travelling to the other side of the world, and he will be carrying another in one of those plastic suit carrier things. He will have a top of the range suitcase and a business case, complete with laptop, iPad and Blackberry. He will have checked in online, because his time is so precious that he simply cannot afford to waste his valuable time standing in line with the economy class scutters. He will arrive at the Business Class check in desk, hand over his suitcase and march away triumphantly with his Business Class boarding card.
The Plastic Businessman will arrive at the airport in a taxi – and that is where the similarity ends. He will be wearing a pair of jeans and a T shirt with a scruffy coat and hauling a suitcase full of work documents he doesn’t need but has been asked to take just in case. He will have had the foresight to check in online but will have to drop his bag off at the economy class check in desk with the rest of the scutters because his company will not pay for Business Class. He will ask for an upgrade and be laughed at by the check in assistant – and then he will be laughed at by the rest of the scutters. In his scruffy rucksack he will have a laptop, an iPod and a book. He will have a cheap Nokia mobile phone that belongs in a Science Museum but, being a geek, he will have an Android Smartphone too. When he has finally checked in, he will shuffle away feeling pissed off about being humiliated when asking for an upgrade.
The Proper Businessman will aim to do as much work as humanly possible while waiting for his flight. He will be constantly talking into his Blackberry or listening to it pinging as important emails fly into his inbox. The laptop will be out and he will be analysing spreadsheets, studyinging documents so important that they must be reviewed before he flies, or he will be sending emails barking orders to is underlings because he is so high-flying, so important that he doesn’t think they can function without him. If is in the Business lounge he will sip a glass of red wine as he chats, covering his mouth occasionally in case somebody may be lip-reading and keen to steal his entrepreneurial ideas or his company’s secrets.
The Plastic Businessman will make straight for the bar, or if he managed to fluke entry into the Business Lounge, will try to cram as much free beer, wine and food down his neck as he can. He will talk on his personal smartphone to tell his beloved that he is about to fly and that he will miss her. Then he will get his laptop out and, after struggling for a while to get an internet connection, will check his blog, his personal emails and then poke around web sites such as BBC Sport or Amazon. Then he may start to write a blog post. Or just play a game. And he will laugh at the Proper Businessman, knowing that he is a workaholic who isn’t actually that important but cannot actually leave his work alone for five minutes.
The Proper Businessman will walk straight onto the aircraft barking orders at his subordinates in his Blackberry – except he can’t carry it – so he has his earpiece in, looking, in his eyes, even cooler.
The Plastic Businessman will queue with the other scutters, listening to rock music on his iPod and embarrassing himself slightly when he inadvertently blurts out profane lyrics to one of his rock songs, like “I’m so HUNGRY for YOUR SEX!!”. The other scutters will laugh.
The Proper Businessman will open up his laptop as soon as the “Fasten Seat Belts” sign has gone off. His aim will be to work for the entire duration of the trip. After all, that important document won’t write itself and since he is the only man who can possibly produce such a document, it is absolutely imperative that he gets at least the first draft of the document done. One of the most frustrating things about flying is that there are no power points so that he can recharge is laptop when it inevitably runs out of power. Still, never mind; he has an iPad and he can do at least a little constructive work on that. If all else fails, he has a stash of paper documents in his business case – and a BIG RED PEN.
The Plastic Businessman is so tightly crammed into his economy seat that there is no room for him to get his laptop out. Even if he did, all he would do is play silly games on it (although he would never admit to that knowing that it is company policy not to allow any leisure software on a company laptop). Instead he will watch a film that has been sliced to ribbons so that it fits on the tiny screen and has had all of the sex and violence removed in case young eyes in a nearby seat can see it. Instead he reads a book – not a Business Book like “The Audacity of Hope” or “How to Acquire Excellence in an Economy Seat on a Cramped Aircraft Even When Sitting Next to the Fattest Man on Planet Earth”. No – instead he chooses a crappy science fiction novel called “Invasion of the Vampire Fembots From Tharg”. And when he’s fed up of that, he will once again dissolve into his iPod and inadvertently blurt out another embarrassing lyric from a rock song like “Pull my trigger; I’ll get bigger – then I’m lots of fun – I’m YOUR GUN GUN GUN!” The other scutters will laugh again.
The Proper Businessman arrives refreshed after a nice sleep because he has been in Business Class and has been able to convert his already comfortable seat into a bed and been tucked in by a beautiful stewardess. He has in his business case, lots of smelly cologne and a razor to make himself look perfect as he steps off the aircraft before all the scutters and picks up his bag immediately because it has been given a priority tag. He has a limousine waiting for him to whisk him off to a hotel to catch up on the remainder of his sleep because he is a Proper Businessman who deserves his rest after an eight hour flight.
The Plastic Businessman leaves the aircraft an hour after the doors opened because he ended up at the back and had to wait for the other scutters to struggle off first. When he gets into the terminal building he looks like a dishevelled version of the scruffy old git that checked in so long ago. Why? Because he has had absolutely no sleep. Faced with the choice of cuddling up to the fat bloke next to him or leaning out into the aisle where he would have been constantly hit by people going to the toilet or trollies full of food, he opted to sleep in the normal sitting position and ended up with a cricked neck. And then he realises with horror that his toothpaste and deodorant were confiscated because both were over 100ml and he forgot to put it in his suitcase. He realises with horror, as he waits for his bag that he has to meet the customer immediately to say hello – and he looks and smells like something that crawled out of a primeval swamp.
I am a Plastic Businessman.
I am not bitter.