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Monday, 10 March 2008

It’s All About Attitude

By Sharon McKinney

Fog. It’s down on the ground and our airport is right on the coast. I wonder what the chances are for getting out of here. I want to meet my connection by 2PM.

The taxi takes me in time for all the security measures and waiting time. After I give my suitcase to the attendant, I scan the room for a seat. It is full and noisy in the waiting area. The seating is around the outside of the room with a back to back row in the middle. I spot a seat near the window. It is the last empty seat.

The woman in the next seat begins a tirade about security, the wait, late flights, and so on. “They can put a man on the moon and can’t get a plane off the ground on time.” The woman is leaning on the armrest and nearly touching my shoulder. I am uncomfortable both with the tone of voice, the content, and the invasion of my personal space. Here I am looking forward to an adventure and this woman would drain my energy if I allowed it.

I look around the room and wonder if I would be better off standing when I become interested in a group in the middle of the room. About a dozen people are sitting and standing together in a smiling, laughing, hugging group of ages from seven to 70. Now, that’s my kind of people.

I watch and listen to them. It seems okay to eavesdrop in a public place. The two elders in the group are the ones leaving. All the others have come to say bon voyage and to reiterate the highlights of their visit. I am intrigued by their good-natured banter, and the closeness, almost intimacy of their interactions.

The pilots enter the room. “San Francisco is fogged in. Only one runway is open. We can wait here or circle for an hour. We decided that we want breakfast! Our phones are on and if the news comes that we can land sooner, we’ll be back.”

I would rather wait than go in circles, using fuel, and belted in. There is another rush of laughing and hugging with the center group and they say, “Good. We have an extra hour together.”

The woman next to me is walking around, spreading her bad humor among the others after she noticed that I wouldn’t respond to her. I relax in the chair, stretching my back before settling in. I watch the interactions in the center stage. I am fascinated by group dynamics and this group is wonderful to observe.

The attendant signals that it is time for us to go through the screening and into the security waiting area. Loud good-byes are exchanged along with vigorous hugs as the family leaves. We collect our handbags to join the line at the scanning machine. A flashlight I carry is challenged. After turning it on and off to be sure it is a flashlight, she drops it back into my purse and gestures toward the door.

We walk to the building and enter to find a different seating arrangement. It is a long room with chairs along the walls. We are facing one another. The older couple who had been having so much fun in the waiting room bring their humor into this drab setting. They are retired park guides and are well equipped with stories. In about five minutes, our group is laughing, sharing, and exchanging information. The attendant says, “Hey, you guys are having too much fun in here. Too much bonding going on.”

Then the flight is announced and we trail out to the plane. Once inside and seated and belted, we each seem to become involved in our own thoughts about the next part of our adventure.

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


This is one great story. I like happy travellers, they make the journey short.

People like those two can make life much easier, especially in airline terminals!

I once enrolled in a weekend conference on laughter, yes laughter. We had workshops throughout each day.

One workshop leader came into the room laughing uproariously and did not stop for at least two minutes. Gradually, everyone in the audience began laughing and soon the whole audience was belly laughing.

She explained that laughter is therapeutic. This conference originated soon after it was researched that laughter lowers the blood pressure and has many other healthful effects upon the human body.

Of course, even before science discovered the effects of laugher on the body, people instinctively knew this. Why else would after dinner speakers tell great jokes? Why would so many people laugh instead of complaining? Because it works.

That is why, after almost three years of supervising my husband's care at home(following his brain hemorrhage and later a broken pelvis) I turned to comedy. I could never remember the punch line of a joke until I began laughing about my husband and me in this predicament.

I decided to go to the local comedy club and enter the Stand Up Comedy amateur night. Can you imagine this 87 year old in a room full of twenty-somethings trying to get a laugh?

Once when the manager cancelled the Open Mike night because they held over a major comedy act, I didn't know about it until I had invited a lot of people to come and give me an audience. I called the manager saying, "Is tonight Open Mike Night? I have invited people to come and watch me." He said, no it isn't but I invite you to open for the headliner!"

Wow, so here I was being announced just before the headliner came on. I had been up on stage numerous times before but this was the big time.

I told the twenty-somethings, "My husband is in a hospital bed now but if you think what you do in bed is any more exciting, you have another think coming. When I climb into my husband's hospital bed for a while and cuddle up he says to me that in the old days I wouldn't be getting out very soon. No matter, he says that we have enough sex memories to last the rest of our lives. And I agree.

I wrote a mini book about grandma sex over 25 years ago and I think it is time to reprint it. I need to laugh about sex more than ever these days.

Don't ever stop laughing, you hear? Crying works too but it can soon be debilitating if used too often. So hang in there. Even with what's going down the tube in this country, it can only get better.

Hi Sharon,

Very interesting observations on your part.

I can't believe the coincidence of reading it and what happened to me yesterday.

My husband and I were in Miami Airport and there were a few delays in incoming traffic. We had to wait a while for our friend and all the seats in the waiting room were taken EXCEPT the few that were near a man who was furious about the delays and was carrying on about the FAA the TSA and the USA. Everyone moved away from him so, as you said Sharon, they would not be infected by his attitude.

Strangest of all, Our friend was part of the crew, so he was the next to last person off the plane when it finally came in and this fellow who was so angry about the delay never did meet anyone.

He was obviously just spending his afternoon at the airport venting his anger at the World.

There are always seats available near these types......

Loved your story, for who of us hasn't been there before. I friend of mine once told me she imagines a glass barrier between herself and that irate woman. The glass has special electrical properties, which takes the stream of negative words and washes it into the ground. I like the image. Equally, the happy travelers made the journey happy for others.

The gods willing, I am traveling next week on a longer journey and will try to take your experience and use it to focus on happy people.

Thank you so much for this.

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