“The best human being in the whole wide world works in that restroom,” I reported to my friend and colleague, who was waiting for me outside “Ladies B1” in the Charlotte airport.
The bathroom attendant had been outrageously, unreasonably cheerful as she “seated [her] ladies.” She pointed out empty stalls, held open doors, and ushered in women with a Right here, darling! Step right up! She welcomed everyone to Charlotte and blessed them as they made their way out the door.
As I sat in my stall I couldn’t help myself – a foolish grin washed over my face and I laughed out loud as I heard her lead other women to their stalls, insisting that “everyone’s going to be happy in my bathroom!”
“I think I know exactly who you’re talking about!” my friend exclaimed when I told her what I had observed, “I remember her from the last time I flew through Charlotte! We should really go find out her name and commend her to her supervisor.”
We were already halfway to our gate on our way to San Antonio, but we wheeled back around to find out the name of this woman who could approach her job working in an airport restroom as an event, a mission, and a blessing to others.
We introduced ourselves to Patricia in Ladies B1 and told her we thought she was amazing. We exchanged hugs and laughs and then my friend and I went on our way, texting her supervisor as we walked away.
“Isn’t your day just a little bit better because of her?” I asked. My friend agreed.
“She spends her day in an airport restroom and finds joy and meaning in her job…We have to remember her if we ever feel like complaining about our jobs,” we told each other as we made our way back to our gate.
We were on our way to NASPA, one of the largest conferences for student affairs professionals in higher education. For the next few days we would attend sessions and workshops on how to be more effective in our work. We would hear from experts in the field about their latest research and strategies for helping students flourish and thrive:
But the most valuable session I attended was probably not any of the ones I attended in San Antonio…it just may have been the one I went to during my quick layover in Charlotte.
I give you:
Program ID Title Room
101 Be like Patricia Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Ladies B1
- Have a sense of mission and take pride in the work you do.
- Make people feel welcome and valued.
- Radiate kindness and joy. (It’s infectious).
- Create a space people are happy to be in – even if it’s an airport restroom!