Many of us that work for The Mandt System travel a great deal for our job. For the most part, this is an aspect of the job that I most enjoy. I like going to different parts of the country. If not for that opportunity, there are many states I would not have bothered to visit on my own and I would have been really missing out (I’m looking at you, Mississippi) on the natural beauty and the lovely people. However, I’ve recently had two really rough travel days recently, one of which involved me stranded in an airport for more than 18 hours with the kinds of long lines and angry passengers that you see on the nightly news.
One of them specifically was the stuff that nightmares are made of. I arrived at the airport at about 4:15 a.m. for my 6:00 a.m. flight. I have status with my airline, but even with that status I waited in line with a sea of people for thirty minutes to drop off my bags (I already had the boarding pass and was checked in for my flight). This is a line I typically spend maybe five minutes navigating. After this I was told to go stand at the end of the TSA pre-check line to get through security. I almost laughed out loud because I couldn’t figure out how to find the end of a “line” in a giant crowd of people. Finally, I was instructed to “go stand behind that woman in pink.” So I did.
I asked if she was in line for TSA pre-check and she answered in the affirmative. Awesome! People started to line up behind me. But then, people started to stand in random places as if they were cutting into the line. Thankfully, everyone was mostly polite and directed people towards the “end” of the line (“it’s back there”).
As I stood in that line (for two hours and forty five minutes) I started to chat with the people around me. The woman in pink was on her way to Phoenix, AZ because her father was nearing the end of his life and she had been called to come say good-bye. I was able to be empathetic with her because I was in a very similar situation ten years ago when I had to travel to Phoenix as my own mother was in hospice care. I also lived in Phoenix for about five years, so we discussed meaningless things like the weather and shopping in addition to more meaningful things like how each of her siblings would process her father’s impending death. I even relied on my Mandt training to discuss ways she could verbally de-escalate her family members as they processed their grief (our verbal de-escalation training). We talked about how everyone would respond differently during this time because each of them had their own trauma history (our trauma informed care training). We even talked about how important it would be to understand how her feelings would impact the way she talked to her siblings as they planned her dad’s impending funeral (our conflict resolution training).
As it turns out, Lady in Pink and I were on the same flight to Atlanta where we would then catch different flights to our final destinations. We both missed that first flight but were re-scheduled onto the same flight to Atlanta. We were not seated anywhere near each other, so I didn’t get a chance to talk to her during the flight, but I did pause after I got off the plane to wish her well on the rest of her travel and to let her know that I’d be thinking about her and her family.
While this particular day of travel was horrible at every level, I surely hope that I was able to ease a little bit of the stress for that woman dressed in pink. Mandt philosophy (treat folks with dignity and respect) is applicable in every aspect of our lives, not just while we’re at work.
Nikki Wince – Faculty Supervisor