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I’m Gonna Get That Armrest

They created a new executive position and my colleague got the position.

“Work for me, it will be fun,” she said of the new department. (It was called Strategic Communications.) “You’re strategic.”

“I don’t know.” I had a sinking feeling.

But I did it, because I’m stupid. Left the one boss, who headed up the original department, to go and work for the second.

Why was I stupid?

Because the first boss knew how to fight for territory.

The second one was honest, and she liked to share.

“Here, please take my information,” she used to say enthusiastically. “How will we succeed if we don’t collaborate?”

It wasn’t three months, of course, before I had to get information from the old boss.

“What do you want?” She eyed me warily from the corner of her eye. “Don’t look at those papers over there.”

“Uh, uh, uh,” I stammered.

“Hurry up!”

“Uh, I was just wondering, do you have the research on social media that I did for you last year? That binder?”

“Oh, the puppet master needs information, huh? What’s the matter, you aren’t that strategic without my help?”

At that she laughed mightily and pretended to rifle around the scattered papers on her desk.

“Sorry, looks like I can’t find it,” she said. “I guess you’ll have to go it alone.”


And that was the end of Strategic Communications, pretty much; my colleague ended up leaving the office, and sure enough I went to work for my old boss once again.

The point is, whenever you make a move in business, you’ve got to do it from strength. If you don’t know how to negotiate, your opponent will surely slaughter you.

Which brings me back to the armrest.

I was on a flight back home from vacation, praying that the seat next to me would stay empty.

But of course, it did not stay empty and a wealthy-looking woman said, “Excuse me, miss, but that’s my seat.”

Whereupon I let her in, and immediately upon sitting, she proceeded to put her elbow all over the armrest that sat between us.

At first I noodged her back a bit, ever so gently, sort of ha-ha-ing and hoping that we would reach some kind of amicable agreement over this little space of property.

All was well for a few minutes, but then I took my arm away to reach for my headphones and computer.

Sure enough, there she was again, her elbow wildly on my side, leaning back innocently and watching TV. Her face wore a small, pleased smile and she pretended to be deeply absorbed in watching a cooking show.

This annoyed me to no end for about half an hour, and I realized that there was no winning this territorial war. She was going to have her armrest, and that was the end of that.

So I took to watching TV myself, and as is my usual habit, watched 35 channels a minute, flipping and flipping and flipping so that I could see multiple shows at once.

Also I put down the tray table and tried to get on the wi-fi, a frustrating exercise, and many times knocked out the headphone cord from the armrest, requiring me to replace it over and over again.

It occurred to me, on observing how I behave on a flight, that I am probably the most annoying person you can possibly travel next to, unless you count that guy who brings three smelly hard-boiled eggs on, and knocks them onto the seat to unshell them, one smelly egg at a time.

There’s the bigger picture; you let the armrest lady take one for her elbow, but what you get back is non-complaining rights over everything else that you do.

The funny thing is that without saying one single word to one another, we seemed to have reached an agreement we could live with.

And as we got off the plane, hurrying to avoid all the other passengers, I thought we would never speak at all.

But she stopped me after we got off the plane.

“Have a great trip, wherever you’re going, miss,” she said.

“Same to you,” I replied. “It was a pleasure sitting next to you.”

You never know, right?

I should have gotten her name so we could connect on LinkedIn.


All opinions my own.


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