Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Business Trips And Uncomfortable Conversations
Last week my job sent me on a short trip to San Diego for some ‘Focus Group Testing’. This is when they basically bring in kids and we sit behind a two-way glass (eating fancy food and drinks) and a moderator talks/shows stuff to the kids getting their opinions while the parents are outside eagerly awaiting a cool $90. I enjoy them and these things are usually entertaining and extremely helpful (for the super secret projects that I can’t talk about or I may wake up one day in some garage in Ohio).
If you’ve ever gone on a business trip the worse part about it is sometimes the co-workers you travel with. Sometimes they’re cool, and sometimes they’re weird. And sometimes they share awkward information you don’t really want to hear or know about. This one girl (Who’s 30 - I call anybody younger than me girl for some reason) started telling me and this other dude about how she’s leaving her husband in two weeks. Say what? Talk about something I didn’t want to hear about last week (after just going through my own family restraining order drama). So I did something I normally don’t do – stayed silent and let somebody else talk (it was tough). I don’t know, usually in tough life stages like this, all somebody needs is to just talk about it without interruption and they’ll usually figure it out on their own (hey, I think I just figured out what therapist do, and they charge more…). But she kept going on and on. I felt pretty bad.
Then she started asking questions about my own marriage and the other dude’s relationship with his partner (he’s gay and lives with his partner and their 6 year-old daughter –she’s from his partner’s previous hetero-relationship…). I told her where I met my wife (in Paris) and why I knew I wanted to marry her (a whole other post), the other dude went on about his deal (which was very Jerry Springer-like except with a happier ending). She then got really quiet and didn’t talk to anybody for the rest of the trip.
I have this weird theory, and it came up again when the other guy and I were talking when this girl wasn’t around. Most women friends, co-workers, acquaintances go through this strange mid-life crisis at around 30 when their lives aren’t going the way they wanted. This girl and her husband were talking about getting pregnant for years, but she kept putting it off, making excuses like “the kitchen needs to be remodeled first”, “we need to get our furniture first”, “we need to go to Burning Man first”…and it never ended. In reality, she didn’t really want kids with him and she didn’t even know why show got married to him in the first place (Oh yeah, her sisters, friends, and parents liked him, so she thought they knew something she didn’t know yet). Ouch! We both felt really bad for this guy we never met.
In the end, my only advice to her was that if she did get back with him, don’t have kids hoping it’ll fix the marriage or make things better. I grew up in a house like that and it really, really sucked. It took years for me to repair, and in most cases children of marriages like that never get repaired, it goes on forever.
I should write fortune cookies.