1-photo (1)Getting to the airport well beyond the 3-hour recommended time, I was dismayed to see an already winding line in front of the check-in terminal. And the counter hadn’t even opened yet. Great. It seemed there was a canceled flight over the weekend so everyone on that flight was trying to get on this one. It was an uneasy wait as no one was sure what the policy was and whether or not we were going to be on that flight, or bumped off to the next one.

The counters finally opened, but it still took an hour and a half to get checked-in. Once I had the boarding pass in my hands AND an aisle seat, I did a little happy dance in my head and looked forward to breezing through immigration and having some time for airport shopping. But alas, my happy dance was premature. Though the immigration line moved quickly enough, it bottle-necked at the final security check. Apparently, there was maintenance work going on and so I turned the corner straight into a line that would put the slow-moving cashier lines on an S&R sale day to shame.

I had an hour until boarding time so I was apprehensive but made a conscious effort not to get paranoid and grumpy as I still had a long ways to go before getting to the motherland. Some of the other passengers around me however, were, plainly put, losing it. Travelling alone, I (thankfully) did not have to worry about antsy children and ornery travel companions. (I also was not the person the drug-sniffing dog sat in front of with his tail wagging and looking very pleased with himself–poor guy.) But the stress was contagious and the grumbling became louder and children became whinier.

The cloud of discontent suddenly stopped though once people passed an elderly man who worked for the airport and was directing people traffic in the middle of the many, many lines. Since I had nothing better to do than to people-watch, I noticed how calmly and kindly he dealt with irate passengers and cracked some jokes to get people to smile. He made everyone within earshot relax simply by being pleasant. When I was standing beside him, I said hello, and he told me that I did a good job having my laptop and little plastic bag with bottles ready as I approached the security counter. I said that he was doing a great job getting people to smile despite the insanely long lines. He said with a smile that he had to keep morale up, a tough job but someone’s gotta do it.

A tough job indeed, I thought as I (finally!) got through security. It was amazing to see how quickly the energy in a room changed because of something so simple. I was grateful that I got to see him in action and had a smile plastered on my face- even as I got pulled aside for one of those random searches where they pat you and your luggage down with a magic stick, that detects god knows what. My smile was contagious too I guess, as the previously stone-faced security lady smiled as she sent me on my way.

When the cabin burst into applause as we landed (you gotta love PAL flights back to Manila), I joined in, happy to have landed safely, happy that I had high spirits and happy to share in the good vibrations.