Over the Hump 10/23/2019

Years ago during my hiatus from Seminary, I was working as a ticket agent for TWA at O’hare in Chicago. One of the jobs was to check passengers’ luggage. I had a counter in the middle and a scale on either side. On a busy day, I tried only to work one scale, for it was faster, so I would put up a (closed sign) on the other. 

A lot of people, either could not read or just ignored the sign, and would stand there waiting for me to check their bags. I was not a happy camper and I probably showed it. One busy Friday evening it happened. A man came up disregarded the sign and waited. I ignored him for a bit and then I took his ticket gruffly and I did not put his bag on the track, in a gentle way. It was going from Chicago to New York. I glanced at his ticket again and read The honorable Adlai E. Stevenson, who was once a presidential candidate. 

Everything slowed down. I pointed to his luggage stub and gave him information he needed. I called him by name and was careful to be overly polite to make up for my rudeness. While this was going on, the man at the other scale was watching, and when I got to him, he said, “do you know who that guy is?”. My response was glib, “Oh, that is Senator Stevenson and he travels with us all the time”. I was more careful of my behavior after that, but I still put up the closed sign when busy.