So I’m on my way to Milwaukee for a trade show, and as usual, flying anywhere is a less than pleasant experience these days. Oddly enough, today seems to be the exception to this dismal rule and has changed my expectation not just of the day’s travel, but of the nature of people.
As I’ve said before, people generally suck. So when so many things come together as they have so far this morning – and it’s not even 11:00 yet – it contradicts my usual pessimistic observation about people and gives me hope that there are still decent human beings to be found in the wild.
First, and absolutely the least important, is that not only was traffic sparse on the trip to National Airport today, but no one cut me off. Score one point for the day.
Next, I found a parking spot without a great deal of wailing and gnashing of teeth. No profanities either, which if you’ve experienced me behind the wheel of the Prius or any other vehicle, is unusual under even routine circumstances.
After a short walk from the parking garage to the terminal, I was greeted by an energetic man behind the AirTran counter who checked me in. He asked how many bags I had and I told him two. After poking around the computer for a few minutes, he asked, “Would you like to upgrade to first class? Baggage is free in first class, and with the cost of your coach bags, I can upgrade you to first class for just four dollars more. Would you like to do that?”
This is something I hadn’t considered. But it took less time to whip out the Visa card and agree to these favorable terms than it usually takes me to sneeze. So I’m upgraded to first class for four extra bucks over what I would have paid for my routine coach ticket.
Bags checked, I headed over to the security line in Terminal A. People had gathered there waving flags in anticipation of the arrival of their travelers. I waited and watched as two or three World War II veterans in wheelchairs came down the aisle and applause broke out among those anticipating their arrival.
This made me smile broadly. I had the good fortune to be assigned to the Department of Defense World War II 60th Anniversary Commemoration Committee, and I know and appreciate the heroism and sacrifice of these fine veterans of Tom Brokaw’s “Greatest Generation.” So I took the liberty of joining in the applause.
And my smile widened.
Proceeding to the large rotunda which serves as Terminal A, i discovered a celebration in progress. Non-stop applause filled the echoing rotunda and there was music in the air. A planeload of WWII veterans from Wisconsin had just arrived and were being greeted by a very appreciative crowd, what appeared to be a political figure, and an older gentleman who played various patriotic songs solo on his French horn. (And he was pretty good, too!)
I stood and watched the joy of the veterans as their heroism was being recognized by the crowd and joined in the applause for these fine people and those who gathered in support.
As I type this now, the French horn player no longer knocking out repeat performances of “On Wisconsin,” I am still smiling. Yes, people apparently do have the capacity to be good and kind and all things the evening news reports that we are not. To see such joy and pride in the faces of both the Wisconsin veterans coming to DC to celebrate their service together and the people gathered to welcome them is the perfect beginning to what could have really been a crappy day. Though I gained personal satisfaction and a good mood from this morning’s experience, I find it more important to note that Americans haven’t forgotten the service of their veterans no matter their age.
To the veterans from Wisconsin and your families, thank you for making my day.