Greetings from the Airport Security Family (or, How to make Work Fun)

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Something extrodinary is going on at the Copenhagen Airport. I’ve been wondering about it for the last few months. Today was no exception. As I was pouring coins, belt, watch, jacket and my beloved Mac in a plastic tray on my way to a Munich-bound flight, a handsome man at the age of my Dad welcomed me with a smile and “how are you today”. Suddenly I found myself chatting with Uncle Security. There are two odd things going on here. First of all, if you are not part of Danish culture I need to tell you, that Danes have a peculiar way of not talking to strangers. So being met by a stranger who greets you and invites to conversation is not as common in Copenhagen as in many other places around the Globe. The other odd thing that took me by surprise here, which most air-travellers and especially commuters will recognize, is that Uncle Security is usually in a really bad mood, easily offended and clearly demonstrates has had too many passengers through the counter already. The US security cousins are the worst. It seems like they have been instructed by some TSA-director (Actually, I think there is no director at the moment) to look evily at every passenger and see if any terrorists might admit themselves. This is not the place for a joke, as some has experienced. But things were different with this Danish security check family member.

“I noticed you guys have started to smile a lot lately,” I said. “Yeah, work is so much more fun now,” he smiled even more and nodded. “I’ve been trying to help the bus drivers be a bit like you guys,” I said. “Great idea,” he said, giggling, and helped my things onwards as the other happy uncle was waving me through the scanner. “What in the hell kind of program have they gone through,” I thought to myself as the next happy uncle was padding me down and commenting on my new winter boots.

Security Aunt was waiting with my Mac ready at hand by the end of the conveyor belt. Same tie and perfect white shirt. “Is this your Mac?” she asked. Real auntie-curls, same age and same golden framing on the glasses. Surely the sister or wife of the giggling guy. I opened the computer, she checked, while chatting about how many passengers are now travelling with two laptops. I asked if I could photograph them, but rules didn’t really allow. “I’m really impressed by the changes here,” I said and auntie tried to explain as she was taking care of the next traveller: “Work just flows easier when you’re helpful – it makes our time here so much easier,” she said as she smiled to a Japanese woman while pulling a bottle of water out of a handbag. “Have a safe flight,” she finished.

Just a year ago I was usually waiting in line for 10-15 minutes before I could put my bag on the belt and the greeting would be along the lines of “Empty-your-pockets-any-last-coins-there-and-your-watch?” while the person would stare somewhere else, not noticing that my things were already in the plastic bin. Today, as I walked to the gate, I was reminding myself how every kind of job has the potential to be fun, involving and something that employees can be enthusiastic about. Nomatter what the job is. Because every job has the potential of finding a meaningful purpose. It’s a matter of mentality and choice wether travellers are dumb-asses and the work is tedious tasks at a conveyor belt or if it’s a fun day with the ‘cousins’.