Traveling can be a very enriching part of anyone’s life. Even business travel has its interesting side. One aspect that can make business travel or any travel for that matter, interesting and fun is the people that you meet. I’m talking about the characters that you come across. I use the term “character” because they are often just as entertaining as any fictional people that you enjoy in movies, television or in books. I also use it in only the most positive sense of the word. These are real people however, and are even more fun if you keep an open mind. I encountered several on my latest trip to Texas to teach the Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training course.
The first character was the flight attendant on our flight to Houston. The first sign that he was not your typical flight attendant was the hair net that partially revealed the incredible mane of long blonde hair that he had. He also sported a mustache and goatee and I imagined that he probably would look pretty non-flight attendantish if he did not have his hair knotted up in a bun. If it were 1967, this guy would be sporting flowers in his hair and a peace sign emblem on a rawhide necklace along with sandals and a “Get out of Vietnam” protest sign.
But what really set him apart was the way in which he delivered his pre-flight announcements. He had a very deep voice and would deliberately pause at the most unusual places in his delivery. “In the event of……an emergency….oxygen masks will drop down from……above. Secure your mask be….fore helping others.” I noticed that because of the unusual cadence that he used to give the information, passengers could not help but listen because they were so intrigued by his voice and the way in which he delivered his message. You could tell that he took great pride in his work and it showed. He also got his message across. No coincidence there. As I left the plane upon arrival in Houston, I told him that he should do voice-overs professionally. He replied that many people tell him that and that he was just looking for the right moment. I told him to get an agent. His aforementioned reply reminded me of that line in Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” song about the bartender who feels he could be a movie star, if he could only get out of this place.
The second character I came across was the concierge at the hotel. This guy was not your typical concierge. His name was Pat and he was originally from Boston. You don’t meet many people in Texas who are from Boston and this made him atypical from the start.
Something else that made him unusual in relation to his job was that he was a concierge “on wheels”. He didn’t sit behind a desk and make arrangements for people; he drove them around to the places they wanted to go. He knew all the places and restaurants and attractions. Another individual with intense pride about his service to others. He had lived in London, New York City and various other places. This guy could talk a mile a minute and his dialogue and speech was consistent with the intense energy he possessed. He had lost most of the East coast verbal mannerisms and it was replaced by a Texas “twang” that camouflaged his original origins. Nevertheless, his speech pattern was an unusual mix of East coast slang and Texas pride. “Oh yeah baby! I love drivin the Houston highways! My brotha Sean is flyin in for a wicked barbeque were havin on the ranch y’all! Boy howdy! It’s gonna be a real good time.” He had me in stitches every time he drove me somewhere. God love the Irish.
If it wasn’t for the people that I meet on the road, I don’t think I would enjoy my job nearly as much as I do. They say that variety is the spice of life. What is variety if it doesn’t include the human element? So, the next time you’re in Houston, don’t be surprised if your van driver talks about the Red Sox with a boastfulness that is the pride of Texas. Yee-haw!
These helpful hints about behavior management are golden coast-to-coast.