Once a year, the wife of New York magazine west coast editor Claude makes a point of flying from LA to New York to confab in person with her various features editors. Smart move. This winter, the group included Sarah from Salon.com, whom Brodesser-Akner knew only up to that point via email:
I started talking ideas. I had an idea about Ikea, how it’s come to represent the interchangeability of our society–after all, isn’t it weird that we’re all buying disposable furniture now? As I told her an anecdote about meeting a friend at Ikea recently, she just let me talk and talk. She must really like me, I thought. Five whole minutes must have passed.
Finally, I leaned in, put my hands on her hands and I told her the punchline of the story: “And Sarah, I’d been waiting at the Ikea in Burbank, but the entire time, she was at the one in Carson!” Her brow furrowed and she blinked. Uh-oh. Was I not supposed to talk about Ikea?
“My name isn’t Sarah,” she said.
Turns out this stranger’s name was Jeanette and she had come to the coffee shop to meet Jin Wong, the lady sitting at the next table. Everything got properly aligned within a few minutes, with the real Sarah also showing up. But since that day, Brodesser-Akner has been giving more thought to the dangers of not letting other people get a word in edgewise. Funny piece.