How to navigate the Davos maze: Ask a wife

By Anya Schiffrin
January 24, 2012

I am starting to think that the average lily-livered man may not be able to face the vicissitudes of life at Davos and that we women are much better suited for the event’s rampant paranoia, ego smashing and petty humiliations.

Because we are Davos Wives, we know how to cope. A more important husband means more blatant snubs for the spouse and that means more hilarity. I loved the  gorgeous prime minister’s wife  who , after reading one of my columns last year, approached me, laughing. “Thank you so much,” she said. “This stuff happens to me all the time. Often the security people won’t even let me get into the car with my husband.”

Meanwhile an aggressive and hard-hitting London QC came to Davos one year and folded after only a few days. He refused to return the following year despite the entreaties of his friends who were attending. “It’s awful. I don’t even want to like it,“ he said. “And besides it’s probably passé and Klaus Schwab is just sooooo……”  Yes ? And what exactly  is your complaint? We Davos regulars all know these things, but they are beside the point.

The point is that Klaus Schwab convenes more important people in one place than anyone since the Congress of Vienna. And it actually does get better. Everyone hates it the first time. If you really can’t stand it, then take the afternoon off and go skiing. (Of course, that introduces a host of other Davos issues, but one might argue that the humiliation of falling on the slopes is far more bearable than the ego bruising that goes on indoors.) There’s also the logistical confusion, made worse by the recent redesign of the conference center, which moved a number of key venues to different parts of the hall.

Among the many mysteries of Davos is the fact that my husband — who can normally never find his shoes without help — is transformed into an intrepid explorer at Davos, taking me by the elbow to find all the necessary back routes, highways and byways so as to ensure that we get to the Google reception on time. In fact why does someone who is always in bed by 11 p.m. even want to go to the Google reception?

First timers always say they are baffled and bewildered by the logistics and never know where they should be. Even agreeing to meet at the coffee bar raises the question of which one. I can usually be found in the airless basement nibbling on a stale croissant but have been told that behind closed doors there exists a well-appointed partners lounge where legendary seafood platters are served. Naturally, I’ve never been inside.

So Davos people, it’s time! Pack the moisturizer (the single most important cosmetic, Davos wife Laurence Pasicoff Heyblom assures me) and get yourselves to Zurich Airport. Now that we’ve been downgraded from an Audi limo, I’ll see you on the shuttle bus.

PHOTO: A member of Swiss special police forces stands on the roof of a hotel during strong snowfall in Davos, January 24, 2012. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

7 comments

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Is this a joke article? Kind of a satiric mockery of the self-important elitism that’s so often used to caricature the super-wealthy?

It must be, because otherwise it would mean Reuters has taken to publishing incoherent mommy-blogs about how hard life is when you have to choose between skiing in the alps or being surrounded by a bunch of other rich people.

Posted by spameroo | Report as abusive

This article says absolutely nothing. How do you navigate Davos? Sounds like the author is as confused as her husband.

Posted by amateurediteur | Report as abusive

Hilarious, hate meetings and conferences and cannot ski!

It seems that the other two posters take venemous exception to your “lily livered” comments:)

Thats really what this is about eh.. cowardly passive aggressiveness.

It all sounds like adorable chaos.

Posted by Female2013 | Report as abusive

Wow, dangling bunches of sour grapes on the part of the passive aggressive men. They simply do not like hearing about how women are treated. But they don’t mind dishing it out, reverse discrimination in its finest form.

I found your article amusing as well as insightful. We do know how to navigate the Davos sphere and most other places in the world where we are not welcome.

Posted by Female2013 | Report as abusive

What is it with this sort of lingering faux womens rights movement these days?

Get over it, you have your equality, now quit talking about it and make good use of it.

As an aside…I am confused as to who this author or her husband is and why they need to participate in Davos?

Posted by jaham | Report as abusive

How about an article for the 99.999% of people who have never even heard of Davos, much less had to worry about how to navigate a meeting of the world’s elite? The lack of humility or perspective on display here is astonishing.

Posted by spameroo | Report as abusive

Please no comments on this one (it’s wishful thinking, I know) but it’s my hope that this broad / sidekick of “the brotherhood of the bell” goes away…

Posted by FoxxDrake | Report as abusive