Monday, March 19, 2012
Noticing the Unnoticed
I was at the airport in Philadelphia today and I was at the food court (the Marketplace, for those who want to give it a fancy name) getting a quick bite for lunch before catching a flight to Chicago. As I sat down at a table with my food, I noticed one of the workers (I'm not sure what to call her) who was cleaning off tables and sweeping the floor. She was wearing a name tag so I greeted her by using her name and I made some small, friendly conversation. As she left to wipe off some other tables, I began to think about all the "unseen" people who serve us in a given day; and I decided to try to notice and acknowledge them more throughout the rest of the day.
There were plenty of TSA people, gate attendants and flight attendants, baggage handlers, the driver of the rental car courtesy bus, the counter person at the rental car agency, the person checking documents as you exit the rental car lot, just to name a few. Whenever possible, I tried to look them in the eye, use their name, and make some conversation. In short, I tried to treat them like a real person. It occurred to me that so many of these people usually fade into the background of my day, particularly when traveling. It's so easy to be so focused on managing the logistics of my itinerary and what I need to do, that I can get caught thinking of these people as nothing more than "tools" to help me along my way. That sounds kind of harsh, but I suspect you know what I mean.
Each of these people has a story. They have a family, friends, hopes, dreams, worries, frustrations, hobbies, and all the other things that make us human. Today I at least tried to connect to, or at a minimum, to appreciate some small portion of their story.