Some places simply aren’t notorious for bringing out the best in people and airports are one of them—frenetic mini cities where “tourist season” never ends for the hardworking security personnel, merchants, staff and ground crew who make commercial flying possible.
As I stand in a long security line, trying to be patient, but feeling annoyed that my flight was delayed, I overhear a low, friendly voice behind me, ask one of the TSA agents “how their day is going? Are they hanging in there and how much longer do they have until they get to head home.” Then he says, “I appreciate you and what you do.” Instantly my heart swells and my frustration melts away. I see that despite the agitated energy of a busy airport, it is possible, important and simple, to both witness and create positive human connections … to brighten someone’s day with a smile or compliment and remember, we really are all in this together.
As I pass through the x-ray machine the guy in front of me apologizes for not pushing his own bags through. “No problem at all, I didn’t even notice!” I exclaim with a broad smile. And there is was … the ripple effect of “NICE.” I was now feeling wide open to being NICE and receiving NICE. My spirit felt sprightly and when my bag was pulled aside to be inspected, instead of feeling inconvenienced, I joked with “Mr. Nice” who was still behind me in line, that it was either my nail polish or the spaghetti squash I was trying to smuggle through to ensure a healthy airport dinner. It was in fact the latter, but luckily, they let me keep it!
At the airport, I love to book browse, using the magic that surrounds the start of a trip to let the right book “find me.” It might sound strange, but the books I discover in airports always seem especially relevant for that time in my life. On this particular day, I choose a novel, The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown and make a conscious effort to be extra friendly to the woman who rings me up, really thanking her for helping me. It feels good—being consciously kind. The book I find out mid-flight, happens to be about a thirty something girl who lives in downtown Chicago! Just saying …
“Oh, hey hi” I say. “Fancy meeting you here” he quips. And then I let the serendipitous moment unfold in the only way it could … seizing the opportunity to tell him what I’d wanted to say in the security line. “This is so crazy, because I was actually just thinking about you, and how nice you were to the TSA agent in the security line … how awesome it was that you told him you appreciated him.” “Oh yeah,” he replied, not missing a beat. “I wasn’t always like that … but I went through a program that helped me see the world differently and now I just take every opportunity to be nicer!” he explained. “Well, you made my whole day. I was nicer to everyone I met after overhearing you in line, so thanks. I have this neglected blog called Karmalized Life and I was planning to write a post about you and then I turned the corner and here you are, so I just had to tell you.”