Below is an open letter written by Dave Nadelberg, creator of the storytelling project, Mortified, and co-creator — alongside Neil Katcher— of The Mortified Podcast. Catch Mortified and a wealth of other popular Radiotopia shows live this month on the Radiotopia Live West Coast Tour, coming to Portland, Seattle, SF, and LA May 8-12th.
Dear Guy From High School,
Look, I realize that I should not have posted that photo on Instagram of me eating a sandwich at that lunch place I heard about on Food Network. I understand that you think that travel means I have more time, not less, to coordinate meeting up with someone I barely know in a city that I know even less. I realize that it does not dawn on you that if I am traveling for work for 48 hours and actually manage to have ANY downtime, that maybe I should treat myself to some overdue solitude and quiet.
Nor does it dawn on you that I should make plans to see people whose weddings I’ve at least attended. Okay, maybe not attended — but at least where I was invited and bought them an assortment of spatulas from their Bed Bath & Beyond registry. I didn’t even know there were different kinds of spatulas. Did you? A silly question, because aside us from flicking paper footballs across the room in Mr. Townsley’s history class or posting “happy birthday” on Facebook, we’ve never had a meaningful conversation. Certainly not about spatulas. I am not even sure if the married couple ever used my spatulas, because the reality is, whenever they do travel to my city, they don’t call me either. Do I wish they would contact me? Yes. Would it be fun to catch up? Of course. Do I get hurt if I rank 33rd on their priority list while traveling? No.
Listen, I know that maybe I sound cranky, almost as if I have been traveling and scrambling from terminal to terminal while inhaling breakfast pizza from the airport CPK. I appreciate that you are simply trying to be friendly. But you’re not being friendly. How do I know this? Because you’re upset and if you’re upset then you’re making it all about you.
To be honest, I was debating not posting the photo of the fried chicken sandwich. But here’s the thing — it was a really great sandwich! It had sauce imported from Ecuador. Do you hear me? Ecuador! This was my one moment of bliss before I had to prep for my presentation and now my quiet time has been tainted by a series of aggressive direct messages saying “come on, let’s just get a beer. Just one beer.” So I am done with the digital secrecy. I refuse to live in shame while traveling. I am not succumbing to any more social media anxiety while on the road. I soldiered through a red eye next to a man who kept smelling his fingertips then looking at me then smelling his fingertips again. The entire flight. Even during the video where all the flight attendants dance. So dammit, I am going to post with pride, and you are going to be okay with it, and while it’d be great to connect, I would be doing it more for guilt than desire. And if Mr. Townsley taught us anything, it’s that history is shaped by those who live their truths. Wait, no, that was from a TED Talk I watched on the flight.
That said, can I bum a ride back to the airport? Cabs are crazy expensive in this town.