Saturday, November 12, 2016

Calgary Airport–The Power of a Smile

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia

A gentle word, a kind look, a good-natured smile can work wonders and accomplish miracles. - William Hazlitt

My insane personal and professional schedule brought me to Calgary Airport today and at one point, reflecting on things that I had read, written and spoken about, I found myself sitting in a nice comfy chair in Banff Hall between Starbucks and the Era kiosk.

On the other side of the security glass in front of me, electric cars whizzed back and forth, carrying a lot of people from one end of the airport to the other.  Most of the occupants were unsmiling, looking tense, exhausted, confused, distracted, angry or heavily focused on “something”.

When we are in an airport, we often forget the incredible combination of Life circumstances that have come together within one building – people on their way to or from job interviews, funerals, family reunions, vacations, meetings, successes, failures and the like.

Travel can be …. well …. exhausting, frustrating and even frightening for some.  Most of us just need to get where we’re going as fast as we can get there.

And so as I watched the electric cars zoom back and forth, I turned towards my colleague and said “someone needs to wave and smile at these people and break them out of whatever trance they’re in.”

My colleague said “sure” and as the next car went by, we waved.

The people looked at us awkwardly and one person did a half-wave.

Undeterred, when the next car went by, we waved again and some of the people waved back.

By the time we were a dozen cars into our little wave-fest, even the drivers were waving back with gusto and large smiles.

Somewhere in the love-fest that ensued, the drivers must have told the passengers to anticipate this because as the cars approached our location, the drivers and passengers began to smile and wave at us before we had a chance to wave at them first.

We had fun for quite a while before Life responsibilities drew us away.

As my colleague and I walked away, I looked over my shoulder and I could see the drivers looking for us as they drove by the now empty chairs.

My colleague and I joked that a lot of people were wondering who “the two goofs” were in the chairs, waving and smiling at people.  No doubt, in some corner of the world later tonight, someone may reflect on the difference a smile made, offered or returned and someone may share a laugh with friends or family when they arrive at their destination.

And as I thought about this, something occurred to me.

For every wave and smile I sent, I received 5-10 in return.

So maybe (and here’s a confession here – don’t tell anyone), just maybe, I suggested the wave-fest somehow knowing that I would get a lot of love in return.  After all, in the middle of my own cross-country move and large business deals, a little love never goes astray, right?

But don’t tell anyone I told you that.

After all, we tough guys have a reputation to uphold.

In service and servanthood,


PS Here’s a suggestion for Calgary Airport Authority.  Place a sign there telling people if they sit in those chairs, that it is a mandatory “wave and smile zone” for people on the other size of the glass.  You never know the impact it will have on both the giver and the recipient …. and the people who are observing both. 

It’s also a great promotion for the Calgary Airport (which has an amazing new international terminal if I may toss in a free plug for them).

I also hope that the Calgary Airport Authority reaches out to the drivers of those cars to thank them – they made a lot of people very happy today.

They may have even changed a Life.

We’ve got enough examples of hate being spread around the world these days.

Let’s find ways to spread a little love while we still can.

It matters.

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