My favorite feature on my cell phone is called “airplane mode.” You flip a little switch and it takes the whole thing off the grid. The switch is orange, meaning that it is probably extra dire if you flip it, meaning that I take extra pleasure out of flipping it. Airplane mode is like picking up the red phone to call on a superhero, only nobody is calling you, because you are in airplane mode, which is great, because I’m a total misanthrope and don’t ever want anybody to call me.
If I go to a bar with somebody and I really want to pay attention to what they are saying – if I want to immerse myself in the conversation, their ideas, etc. – I will flip the phone on airplane mode. If the meeting is fleeting, like I just flew there and we only get one hour a year to catch up: always airplane mode.
I can’t remember the last time I ever used airplane mode on an actual airplane. For all I care, the manufacturers of my phone should change the name of airplane mode to “interesting person mode.”
Then we’ll say goodbye and the interesting person will leave and I’ll probably be drunk and inspired a little more. I’ll turn airplane mode back off and get a series of increasingly pitched text messages from my friends who are wondering what all is going on and where to drink next. But nothing that went down couldn’t have waited those two hours, of course; and the attention I paid to them, to you, is what matters.