Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Gift of Connie

We just returned from Spring Break vacation. If there was anything more enjoyable than the sunny weather, the exotic Bahamian locale, the fun water park, or the frosty/fruity poolside beverages, it was the people watching.  Certainly, there's terrific people-watching at the airports. I had an encounter at the very start of our trip, though, that left an impression which lasted throughout the trip and to this brutal day of returning to the office. It was with an employee at the Nashville Airport, whom I'll call Connie, but I never saw her name tag.

Our flight was early in the morning. We arrived at the airport at the recommended one-and-a-half hours prior to our flight for domestic flights. Fueled with caffeine and excitement and anticipation, we threw ourselves into the crowd of people waiting to check in at their designated airline's desk. We found our airline and assumed our place in line. It was then that I first noticed Connie. I'm not sure if Connie worked for a specific airline or the airport, in general, but her job, the best that I could tell, was to make sure that airport guests were in the right place at the right time. Not an easy task in and of itself. Throw in cranky morning people, crying kids, non-English speaking guests, and just the plain dumb, rude, or the variety which is both dumb and rude. Connie's job is not an easy one.

When she approached us, we had boarding passes and passports in one hand, and the other hand on our luggage, as the overhead announcement instructed. She asked two questions of us:  which airline are you travelling on and when is your flight? We answered both questions correctly, politely, and quickly. Sadly, we were not the norm. 

I witnessed person after person in line fumble one or both of these questions.

Connie: M'am, which airline are you travelling today? 
Clueless Lady #1: [Pause] Hmm? 
Connie: Which airline are you on this morning? 
Clueless: American? 
Connie: [Looking at woman's boarding pass] M'am, you're on Delta and this is the US Air line, anyway. Delta is on down there. 
Clueless: Oh...ok...[ambles away like a bear awakened from hibernation early].

Connie: Sir, what time is your flight this morning? 
Rude and Clueless Man #1: [Bothered] Um...I don't know...9:45. 
Connie: [Looking at boarding pass] Sir, your flight is at 7:20. That's in 15 minutes. We need to get you through the line. Come with me and I'll have someone help you. 
Rude: [Bothered] Ok...whatever. [Tries to hand his bag to Connie even though that's not her job to take his bag.]

I watched person after person after person not know where they were, where they were going, or when they were supposed to be there. All the while, Connie was guiding people to the right place and with a smile on her face. I said a prayer for Connie while I stood there. That God would bless her and shine His light upon her and that I could be more like Connie.

The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.                                                                                  -Tolstoy

Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.                                                                                                   1 Thessalonians 5:13-15