Tuesday, September 11, 2007

But the Day Was Not Wasted

There was a time when being delayed in an airport would cause you to feel like you wasted a day. Those were the days before laptops and cell phones and wireless broadband.

It doesn’t always work out but I try to get to the airport about two hours before my flight just in case there are long lines at security and so I want have to rush around. Because I didn’t check the time of my flight today I got there 3 hours early. And my flight was delayed another hour and a half. So you can do the math. I was in Atlanta Hartsfield – Jackson airport for 4 ½ hours today.

That is way too long but my day was not wasted.

I spent most of the time on my laptop working on a project for work I had started at my office this morning. With high speed internet service throughout the airport these days it’s just like being at the office. And I was able to get done there what I would have had to finish late tonight at the hotel if I had not been delayed.

After what I read about what happens in the Men’s Room at airports these days, I spent absolutely as little time as possible in that particular room. The few times I did make a visit I made sure not to tap my foot which seems to be the universal sign you want a stall companion. I don’t want one of those.

But just for your information, outside of the Men’s Room in any of the concourses you can meet some interesting folks at the Atlanta Airport. They all have a story and they all are going somewhere. I had a lengthy conversation with a former NFL football player. I met an elderly couple who had just come off a cruise and were changing planes to head home. I spoke to a shoeshine man who once shined the shoes of Martin Luther King, Jr. I spoke to a couple who was heading to Hawaii for a vacation. I couldn’t help but listen to a businessman talk on his cell phone to somebody about an incompetent employee.

I have learned that it is a good thing to leave your comfort zone and engage other human beings. The comfort zone for most folks in an airport would be to sit by themselves and never say a word to anyone. I choose to be different. I ask questions and if they seem to enjoy answering them I keep asking and I keep listening. And the conversations we have can really be amazing.

Some folks hand over a business card after meeting a new friend. I have something better. I hand over a book I wrote. I sign it to them and leave my email address. And many times I get an email. And sometimes I have a new friend who wished they had grown up in Reynolds, GA.

I did spend the afternoon at the airport today. But the day was not wasted.


Anonymous said...

I was at the airport yesterday also. My experience was different. My flight was at 6:20 AM, so I arrived around 5:30 AM, which means I got up around 4:15 AM. Mind you, this is early. When I checked in, I was told that the flight was going to be delayed until 8:00. Why the delay I inquired? The pilot overslept--never heard that one before.

Anonymous said...

A good rule of thumb is to always carry along your own copy of the newspaper, especially the sports page.


Anonymous said...

A quick note to say I enjoyed your blog about a day not wasted ... I spent some time recently waiting for our oldest to return from New York, where her choir sang in Carneige Hall (oh youth and opportunity is so wasted on the young!) and she also toured the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, saw Ground Zero, did China Town, saw the Lion King on Broadway and ate dinner in Times Square ...

but I digress .. I waited for her plane's delay and spent my time -- like you striking up conversations ... and met a UT Vol fan, all decked out in orange who knew all about raising teenagers (not) and a retired Navy Seal, who spent three months in a coma having been shot and paralyzed, but who was now fully recovered and now a teacher (I'd love to be his student) ...

I was glad to see my daughter home safely -- but almost sad to see her plane land -- I truly enjoyed to my time spent in the airport striking up conversations. I guess you and I are kindred spirits!