Beauregard: To air is human

I don’t know why people hate airports. Being in one means you’re not at work and no one is yelling at you. In fact, it’s just the opposite: It’s the place where YOU get to scream at some poor airline ticketing agent when your flight is delayed five minutes due to mechanical issues, which are undoubtedly her fault.

FACT I: Yelling at “Samantha,” the ticketing agent, makes the airline mechanics work three times faster.

FACT II: The Cleveland snowstorm that caused your last flight to be delayed? It’s Samantha’s fault as well.

I’m convinced the X-ray machines at the TSA line kills brain cells.

Once my brother and I were at DIA when our late night flight back to Grand Junction got canceled. The man ahead of us in line was from Aspen. I only know that because he made that clear that he was from ASPEN, and had to get back to ASPEN right away, and the plane mechanics would surely be in more of a hurry to fix the faulty gauge if they knew he needed to get back to ASPEN.

Eventually he stormed off after being told to come back tomorrow. I’m confident his luggage, which should have been sent to ASPEN, was “accidentally” re-routed to THAILAND.

I’ll never figure out why people at airports act like jerks. How can you be miserable in a place that smells of Cinnabon?

A terrorist is just a guy who has never experienced Cinnabon. Anyone who has tasted one would be more interested in devouring their gooey, warm, sweet, cream-cheese icing and less concerned about killing infidels.

But people hate airports, whereas to me, flying is nothing short of an exciting adventure. I once mentioned to the man seated next to me how wonderful it is to fly somewhere. The joy! The discovery! I asked where he was headed. He told me “a funeral,” so that was a bit of a downer.

Plus at airports, I like to people watch. I also like the term “people-watching.” It sounds much more innocent than “leering.”

You see men so nattily attired you feel like poor white trash, and then you have passengers who look like they just left the set of “The Walking Dead.”

I once watched four people at the Dallas/Forth Worth International Airport staring anxiously in front of a phone-charging station. They weren’t talking with each other or looking around or reading a newspaper or anything. They seemed lost, unsure what to do without access to an operational phone.

I asked my wife if there was anything more pathetic than watching your phone being charged. She said, “Yes. It’s watching people who are watching their phone being charged.”

The airport is also the only place where you get to eavesdrop without appearing like a creep.

“Tell Mitch we’ll set up the meeting for 3 on Tuesday” the man in the suit says, loud enough for all of Gate C to hear.

I always over-glamorize the conversation. I picture him as the CEO of, say, Morgan Stanley, and he and “Mitch” are ready to close a $93 billion deal. In reality, the guy is probably just agreeing to help Mitch get his toilet unclogged.

Speaking of toilets, airports are also the only place where you will experience a guy in the urinal next to you having a phone conversation. He’s always talking in a loud voice.

I wonder: Is he really too busy to be off the phone for 30 consecutive seconds to go to the bathroom? And are his clients OK with hearing flushing noises in the background? Maybe that’s why he talks so loud.

Airports are also home to “has to be first on the plane guy” and “sitting in Chili’s drinking a 24-ounce beer at 7 a.m. guy” and many other characters who are probably normal in real life but who lose brain cells when going through TSA screening.

So the next time you are at an airport, enjoy the show. You’ll have plenty of time since your flight is late.

I’m not sure why there was a delay, but I’d blame Samantha.

Reach Steve Beauregard at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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Mr. Beauregard looks at how people behave at airports, and in flights.  He need not go to that particular location to see that lack of civility.  All he has to do is look around him on a daily basis, as to how people behave in public, how they drive and how they are treated when entering any type of retail outlet.  So, it is not only one-sided. 

If one is treated poorly by anyone, or treats someone else poorly, in any of them, that is almost always a management problem.  To put it another way, the tone of an organization is set by those at the top, in executive suites and in boardrooms where the management is interested only in their compensation and in the health of their quarterly bottom line.  They are attempting to operate the organization from a spreadsheet, very frequently at the expense of their employees, and even that of their “customers”.

That comes about from the attitude we frequently see in the management of organizations, and consequently of their employees, that of “I am doing you a favor by being here” or, at the individual level, “My very existence is a favor to you and to humanity”.  That is what needs to change.

One does not need to go to airports to see people on phones all the time discussing really nothing.  In fact, some apparently need to talk all the time, either in an attempt to impress others, or perhaps themselves.  What some of us wonder, if they are so busy talking, when do they take the time to actually think, or is it only their mouth which is engaged, with their mind in neutral. It all too frequently the latter.  Their mouth is engaged but their mind is not.

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