I’m sitting on a plane next to a guy who needs to vent. Our departure’s been delayed about 15 minutes and he needs to talk about it. So he calls American Airlines customer service on his cell phone. He doesn’t really have anything to say or much to actually complain about, he just needs to vent. He tells her he’s an “Executive Platinum” flyer, took this flight because it gets him there sooner, he has a tight turnaround in Dallas, he’s trying a new airport, his family’s expecting him, and we’re delayed 15 minutes. He drones on and on. I can tell
the poor customer service person is bored to death. Nothing world shaking here. But dang it, he needs to talk to somebody.
I’ve actually had people wait nearly 2 months just to get an appointment with me because they say they need my advice. When they show up, they vent. They literally talk non-stop for an entire hour. I finally have to interrupt and tell them I need to go, and we shake hands and they leave. Why the appointment with me? They could have talked to themselves at home.
Sometimes people need to vent. I’ve discovered it’s not because they’re upset or have been wronged. They just desperately need to share their situation with someone else. They don’t really need advice or help. They’re relieved just by talking about it.
I grew up in the South where we “visit,” so I’m used to it. But it’s good to remember the next time a friend – or complete stranger – needs to vent to you. They aren’t necessarily angry. They just need to vent to another soul. Perhaps it’s the eternal sense of community we share with each other. Maybe it’s what gives us our identity and shared sense of purpose.
Whatever it is, I seem to be a magnet for it.