In my relatively brief career as a chauffeur, I was privileged to drive a fairly wide variety of clients: showbiz celebrities (or their spouses/partners/significant others), sports figures, war heroes, media executives, a couple of politicians (one of whom ran for President but got run over by the Trump clown car), one jerk of a sportscaster, medical professionals, and “regular folks”, who just wanted a nice evening out, or a nicer ride to/from the airport than a taxi or Uber.
The majority of my passengers, though, was made up of business professionals and executives. They usually came into town just for the day, to attend some important meeting, or to close some big deal, or for a business lunch, whatever. Their time was very valuable, and it was essential for me to pick them up at the airport on time, get them to their destination quickly, and get them back to the airport on time to catch their flight back home, or to their next destination.
Many of them were quite friendly; they wanted to carry on a conversation about topics such as what was new in town, local sports teams, the latest events in the news, etc. Others were much more businesslike, limiting their conversation with me to the obligatory courtesies: how are you, thank you for driving me, can I please adopt you and make you sole heir to my vast fortune, the usual stuff.
Then there were some that said nary a word to me, typically because they were on their phone the entire length of the trip. What was really fun was having more than one passenger in my car, and they were all on their phones simultaneously; it hurt my ears. That was understandable, though; business continues all the time, 24/7. It doesn’t pause to talk to the chauffeur. (By the way: how anything ever got done before the advent of smartphones baffles me.)
But, you know what eventually dawned on me?
There’s a lot of business going on!
I know that, right now, many of you just read that last statement and said, “Well, duh!”
And, yeah, it does seem like a ridiculously obvious statement, but honestly: do you realize all the deals and meetings and other machinations behind the daily conduct of business, unless you’re personally involved? I mean, I just heard a sample of that, and not that large a sample, either, and it was kind of overwhelming to realize how many things go on in a single business day that have such wide-ranging impact on all of us. Mergers and acquisitions, sales and investments, a few million dollars here, a few billion there, like so many chess pieces being moved around the board by all these Grandmasters.
Meanwhile, the rest of us just go through each day of our lives with little or no regard to how much of our economical well-being is determined by all the business going on in the course of that day.
And if I really wanted to get a headache, I could think about how interconnected all these business decisions are. How does one impact another which, in turn, impacts another, so on and so on, downstream? Does a business decision made in January affect one made in September? If someone didn’t do his homework in advance of a pending deal, and made an ill-informed choice as a result, how much could that modify the overall business landscape?
Well, that thought led me, subsequently, to this one. What actions do each of us take on any given day that end up having consequences reaching beyond our perceived small sphere of influence? How many of us have had our day ruined by a complete stranger who cuts us off in traffic, or gets our drive-thru order wrong, or tells us to go do something to ourselves, and not for the pleasure of it? Have any of us ever been that stranger?
And never mind us, folks; think about how far any decision made in Washington regarding economy, environment, foreign policy, et al. could ripple out like from a rock innocently thrown in the water.
Holy Crap! Kinda scary to think about, huh?
That is, unless we remind ourselves that this could be a positive, just as well as a negative. Perhaps we should all take a moment to think about how some good thing we do, or say, could alter someone else’s state of mind in a way that inspires good words or actions, and the chain reaction of positivity just snowballs from there, without stopping.
It’s certainly something I need to be more mindful of, being the chronically depressed pessimist I usually am. Venturing away from the negative end of the spectrum is a struggle for me, at times.
Still, I’m vain enough to think, and wishful enough to hope, this blog can fit in that formula somewhere.
The interesting thing is, this started out as a thesis on the complex web of business, then I kinda jumped off from there, and look where I ended up. Giving you my little Life Lesson for the day.
Shows what happens when I don’t shut up.