Captive Marketing

Captive

April 14, 2009: 10:20 AM ET

monkeyI'm sitting in Oakland Airport waiting to board my plane. It's Tuesday morning. I'm trying to think while I write this, but I can't. Know why? Because there's a television, bolted to the ceiling, nattering about some frickin' nonsense in which I have absolutely no interest. To my left is a guy talking to somebody on his cell phone. To my right is a girl playing a game on her cell phone. I don't know what game it is. All I know is that it goes beep beep beep while she's at it. Her face shows the preternatural calm of a sheep munching on a clot of loam in the middle of an open field. 

On the way here, I stopped to get gas. On top of the gas pump, there was a TV. On the TV, there was a commercial. It was a commercial for the commercial potential of televisions on top of gas pumps. There was no way to escape it, because the automatic clip thing on the pump handle had been removed. So I had to pump gas and watch a commercial about how people like to watch commercials while they're pumping gas. 

When I get to the office, I will ride an elevator up to my floor. In the elevator, there will be a television. On the television, there will be news. I don't know about you, but the way things are going, I actually spend a fair amount of time these days avoiding the news, since very often the news you see during the day consists of people blasting hot lava over the news. Exclusive! Breaking! On stories that are neither exclusive nor breaking. A guy pouring oil on the public from the top of the Tower of Babel is not exclusive or breaking. Britt's saucy new video isn't either. But there it is. In your face. When I went to Vegas last month, they had narrated video in the elevators there, too, except that it wasn't news, it was a commercial for the lobster in butter sauce they serve at the buffet. I didn't want that, either. 

They're boarding. In a few minutes, they will tell us to turn off our electronic implements and we will settle into the last quiet place in the western world: airspace. It's a short flight, so there will be no movie. I hope it's not too boring. Of course, they do have a very respectable in-flight magazine with a lot of interesting ads.

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