On the Road with Cal Farley’s International Consultant

Seems like there is always something to learn when traveling…

Judgment Calls & Compromise:

Flying through Amsterdam Airport Schiphol yesterday my wife, Marty, and I watched a scene unfold at a gate security area the likes of which I have never observed in a thousand flights anywhere in the world. A passenger casually waited as his carry-on bag went through the x-ray machine. As an agent was called to inspect the bag the passenger stood calmly, showing no sign that he expected anything to be wrong.

Standing together at the end of the security conveyer, the agent proceeded to open the bag, remove some clothes, and expose a food processor. Yes, a standard sized food processor. The agent removed the food processor and disassembled it, soon to expose the double-edged blade, which is common to such devices. While we could not hear their conversation in whatever language it was spoken, the non-verbal communication was very clear. The agent looked at the double blade, made a look of consternation, and slowly shook his head at the passenger. The passenger, in turn, looked back at the agent with a look that said, “but sir, I must have my food processor.” Back and forth they went with head shakes and plaintive looks.

On the same flight as the man with the food processor, we were very pleased with the diligence and standard of safety shown by the agent. Then we looked on in shock as the passenger was smiling and he and the agent were head nodding in the affirmative, reassembled the food processor, and closed the bag.

As it turned out a compromise was reached and the bag was checked and would travel in the luggage hold to be retrieved at the passenger’s final destination. We felt safe again and were pleased to see that a satisfactory agreement was in place. We soon saw another gate agent take the newly checked bag out of the jetway to be handed off to the baggage handlers. As she set the bag on the outside stairs and watched it tumble down a dozen steps to the landing, she grimaced as she went down after it only to set it upright on the spot where it landed. We noticed that the passenger had not noticed his tumbling food processor filled bag and stood in line satisfied that his needs had been met. The original gate agent went back to his work keeping the skies safe for the rest of us.

While we won’t get to see how the food processor survived the stairway tumble or the baggage tossing which may have followed, we know that there was at least one casualty in this episode. The gate agent who had to take the bag outside for checking came striding back in to the gate area with a pained look on her face and holding her pinky finger at the nail.

About Mark Freado

On behalf of Cal Farley's, I provide professional development training and organizational consultation to public and private organizations serving children, adolescents and families throughout the world.
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