There is something unique to the experience of traveling that elicits the best (and occasionally the worst) in people. Having recently completed three relatively short journeys, I had occasion to witness considerable travel behavior.
Somehow, the process of traveling provides the anonymity necessary to say or do whatever you like without fear of offending or injuring anyone who matters to you. This includes banging into others with your giant backpack, finding it acceptable to board whenever you like and spreading out across three seats in a crowded gate area.
On the upside, I also experienced numerous acts of pure kindness. Two service employees graciously assisted in relocating my suitcase with a sincere eagerness to help. And a complete stranger offered to lift my bag from the baggage claim carousel after noticing my anxiety associated with claiming it.
While airline, airport and car rental personnel are charged with the task of assisting travelers, the methods by which that care is delivered can vary significantly. Happily, most of the service I received was courteous and freely dispatched.
In spite of or maybe because of the fact that you will never again see the people you encounter, I make it a priority to be a helpful, personable colleague. This involves smiling at most people, quickly offering information when asked and liberally offering a seat when I believe that one is needed. Travel is often stressful and it seems only fair to make a small contribution toward mitigating that stress.
My best guess is that none of what I do will be remembered for more than a minute or two after the event, a reality that doesn’t bother me at all. We all have the occasion to make minute enhancements to the lives of the people around us. If we choose to be nay-sayers or curmudgeons, we lose as much as the people whose days we could have brightened. Shalom.
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