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Welcome to Airworld…
Ryan Bingham is a Career Transition Counselor – a fancy title for someone whose job is to smooth the firing process by “coaching people to understand job loss as an opportunity for personal and spiritual growth.” Bingham is a salesman. A motivational speaker. A brain washer.His job requires travel. A lot of travel. So much that Bingham sees the planes, airports, and hotels as home. Especially now as we find him divorced and technically homeless.
He is always insisting he’s happy with his life, though the constant defense of his lifestyle rings false. His seemingly only goal is to reach a million flyer miles before leaving his current job for another company. A mystery company for he doesn’t even know what they do. He doesn’t have many relationships to speak of: co-workers; the staff of airlines, airports, and hotels; and family. A family who is never sure what he does or where he is.
After having seen the trailers for the movie, I kept waiting for Anna Kendrick’s character to show up. About halfway through the book I realized that Anna Kendrick was the reader. The entire novel is first person – Ryan Bingham’s narration of his life to the reader. In order to translate that to film, Bingham needs someone to share his secrets.
This book was of particularly good timing as I read it during a 10-hr layover in Tokyo. It was a quick read, but soon forgotten. None of the characters are very likeable. Ryan Bingham is a fast talker, capable of rationalizing all behaviors. He is an expert at reading people, for people are his business.
One of my favorites of his observations:
“The lines we draw that make us who we are potent by virtue of being nonnegotiable, and even, at some level, indefensible… To apologize for your personal absolutes… means apologizing for your very existence.”
My brother (after some commercial): If someone tries to get you to send them naked pictures, just say no.
Me: I reserve the right to say maybe.