Open Letter to the M Train Media Baron

Dear person,

mtrain.jpgYou don’t know me, nor should you, but we ride the same train to work in the morning. I get on in a grubby section of Queens, while you get on in Williamsburg. I’d never had the pleasure of meeting you until this morning, when the the train reached Lorimer Street, and I heard your braying voice the moment the doors opened. You were talking on your cell phone, to your mother, apparently, and very loudly.

I don’t like to listen to other people’s phone conversations, but since you stood right in front of me and decided to talk in a ludicrously loud tone of voice, it was impossible to ignore you. I could tell you were Someone Important, because right off the bat you mentioned two extremely popular cable TV shows, and made it clear that you worked for the network airing those shows (even though you were talking to your mother, who presumably knew this already).

Apparently, one of these shows, which just debuted to rave reviews, was experiencing an inordinate amount of traffic on its Web site. Or rather, the person in charge of said Web site had not prepared for such traffic and was getting slammed. But rather than tax his/her staff or outsource the issue, this person was trying to handle the issue him/herself.

I don’t know why I’m obscuring the gender of this person, since you mentioned his/her name many, many times, at top volume, like everything else you said. You also made sure to mention that you knew all this because you received an email you weren’t supposed to, which you then proceeded to forward to other folks, just for laughs.

This surprised me. I have friends who work in various media. Sometimes they work on Very Important Things and they can’t tell me the exact details. And I accept this because, hey, who knows who might be sitting in that next booth or in the bus seat next to me? You, clearly, are not limited by such discretion.

But the thing that really set me off, really brought it all together for me, and made me write this letter, is when you said to your mother, “I don’t have time for this! I’m a 32-year-old girl!”

Yes, you are. You are a child. Your job, which is evidently very important (though not important enough for you to wear anything nicer than sneakers) is just a toy to you. If I had a job like yours, first of all, I’d be thrilled. But I’d also be very careful about bitching about any aspect of it in public.

As you yakked away, I wrote several tweets about your phone call. I could just as easily fired off an email to a certain Web site that likes to trade in media gossip like this (hint: it rhymes with Mawker). And thanks to your detailed descriptions, it wouldn’t take too much googling to find out who you are or the full names and titles of all the other principals you complained about at length.

And that might get you fired, but what the hell! You’d just flit to some other joke-job, or you’d couch surf for a while, or maybe finally go to India or something, you know, really learn about yourself. Your life has zero stakes, and based on the fact that you were having this conversation with your mother, you were clearly raised with zero stakes, too. I’m 100 percent positive you come from money and privilege, and the reason you’re yapping at top volume on the train is because this job is just to keep you in beer and coke money. You could lose it tomorrow and not feel a thing.

My life has nothing but stakes. I come from no one. I grew up with very little. I was able to go to college only because I earned a scholarship (and took out some oppressive loans), and I went to every goddamn class because I was terrified of losing that scholarship. I’ve spent every day of my adult life working or hustling to get work.

I have a wife and a child. I can’t bitch about anything I do for pay because if I do and I get fired, I have zero safety net. I can’t pull up stakes and crash at a friend’s place or live in my mom’s basement for a while or move to a commune.

That’s because I’m an adult, and I pity you. I have more obligations than you can possibly imagine, and yet I write every god damn day. I have more things to do that I don’t want to do than ever before, and yet I’m working on more projects of my own than I ever have ever before.

But you, you will do nothing of value with your life, because you don’t have to. You will create nothing and bring joy to noone, because you don’t have to. You will never do anything you don’t have to, because you’re a “32-year-old girl”, and children don’t do things they don’t want to do.

I meet people like you a lot. They’re my age or thereabouts, and when I tell them I have a kid, a look of abject terror flits across their faces for a split second. It’s not the idea of being a parent that scares them. It’s the idea of having any sort of responsibility, of having to live in a world in which their id isn’t constantly satisfied. “You mean I can’t just sick out for a few days and go to Bonaroo?”

Do you have to have a kid to be an adult? Of course not. I would say all of my friends are adults, and very few of them have children. To be an adult, you have to have a sense of the world outside yourself. You clearly have none of that, or else you wouldn’t be yelling about your job (which many people would kill for) at top volume on the subway.

I know you are highly unlikely to read this, and even if you did, my words would be unlikely to change you in any appreciable way. I just want you to know that your life is completely and utterly meaningless, without a single redeeming feature, and one day you’re gonna die alone and afraid, just like the rest of us. Cheers!

— Me