Alain De Botton's Column: A Good Idea from ... Robert Browning
Botton, Alain de, The Independent (London, England)
I WAS on a long-haul flight the other day, in a large business- class seat paid for on an expense account, when I met someone who liked me very much. Her badge said she was called Samantha, and from the moment she laid eyes on me at Heathrow, she seemed delighted simply by the fact that I existed. There was no need to charm her - if I was distracted or grumpy, her sweet ministrations continued unaffected. She began by offering me some peanuts, then some wine and champagne. She returned with a bag of toiletries after take- off, then a five-course meal, then some liqueurs, then some slippers, then chocolates, then another meal - and every time she smiled sweetly and tried to engage me in a little light conversation as though I was one of the most interesting people she had ever had the good fortune to meet.
I was for a time tempted to believe in this friendliness, before I noticed a disturbing fact that quite put me off her. Though Samantha seemed uniquely focused on me whenever she came to my seat, I couldn't help but spot that she was affording exactly the same kind of attention to everyone else in business class. She seemed just as delighted to see the man with the headphones and laptop by the door, and the lady in Prada in front of me and the couple with two blond children next to me. And the universality of her affections served to undermine the attention she had paid me. It seems that in order to believe in …
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Publication information: Article title: Alain De Botton's Column: A Good Idea from ... Robert Browning. Contributors: Botton, Alain de - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: January 3, 2000. Page number: 16. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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