The Business

by Mark Hahn

Business travelers pile into planes like slabs of beef — each a lump of anonymous flesh on their way to pat hands with other lumps of flesh. We’re all interchangeable to our employers. It’s better not to kid ourselves. Capitalism chews us up until we are useless, then it shits us out.

At the end of the day, the business travelers congregate in the hotel bars. Simply more business. In the end it doesn’t matter what you’re selling. We’ve all sold ourselves somewhere along the way.

When you have nothing else, it’s either the room alone or the flow of liquor and meaningless chatter. No one here cares about anyone anyway. Given the emptiness of a sterile hotel room though,  many end up fucking their way through the loneliness with people they wished they never met.

Needy laughter drifts out of the hotel bars. There is nothing funny about being another piece of tired flesh, alone at the end of the day — at the end of the bar. Sometimes people need to do what they do just to get through the moment. Unhappiness has a foul stench. Some things are hard to wash away.

Fucking strangers or staying up late watching TV alone are both imitations of life. The monkey suit in the closet strips off your personal identity when you walk out the door in the morning. The creature comforts of a Hilton or Marriot are no substitute for happiness. The maids scrub away every trace of your existence as soon as you leave. It really never mattered that you were here in the first place. You brush your teeth, comb your hair and take one last glance in the mirror — then you’re gone.

A drunken salesman tried to explain it to me once.

“It’s a lifestyle. Always on the go. Some people can’t handle it, but I made half a million last year and got plenty of pussy along the way. It was great.”

“In the old days, you had to find a strip club or whorehouse to get some action, but now there’s so many women out there, it’s different — they’re all as lonely and horny as the men.”

“Even if they’re married, you feed ’em enough alcohol and you’re in.”

The salesman went on to tell me a story about one married woman who took him all night to get in bed. They worked in the same firm. They stayed up talking. Closed the hotel bar together. He played her co worker friend. Said he had some expensive brandy in his room. It only took a few more drinks in the room before she gave in. He said he fucked her good. She went back to her room when they were done.

“In the morning, we both showed up at the breakfast buffet in our business suits, ready for another day. We never looked at each other.”

“She went home to her husband and me my wife. I was still married then.”

Bottom line, he said, “Always keep some good booze in your room, you never know when you’ll need it.”

The salesman’s drunken girlfriend came in, put her arm around his shoulder and cackled, “That’s before you met me, right?”

The salesman just laughed, “Right dear.”

Their drunken disconnected touch looked as if it was just another fleshy handshake sealing another sleazy deal.