It's impossible to go anywhere lately without hearing about the government shutdown, all the big names always in the spotlight. It's so easy to forget about the Americans suffering most during this tumultuous time. Government employees at all levels are being forced to work without pay, and they have no idea when their next paycheck will come.
Airport personnel at all levels face the added challenge of the last several months of the year being among the absolute craziest for travel globally. Each and every day, thousands of Americans pass through airports and board airplanes, depending on every aspect of their experience to run smoothly.
We can all remember an experience with a security guard, flight attendant, or crew that was less than ideal. But it's so important, now more than ever, to think about all the hundreds of other times that an airport employee kept things moving along safely and efficiently and keeping you safe.
I'm sitting on a plane writing this now, so grateful that a flight attendant was so kind and understanding when I told her I was having really bad period cramps. She graciously brought me Tylenol and a huge bottle of water. She went above and beyond to make my flight as comfortable as possible. Flight attendants have to be trained to deal with all kinds of situations, from fussy passengers to full-on medical emergencies—and they have to do all of it with a smile.
I'm also grateful for the NSA agents who have to facilitate the process of travel many passengers would point to as their absolute least favorite. Security is such a nuisance but imagine for a second if we did not have these precautions in place. Even if they go a bit overboard, the alternative is a higher risk of people sneaking weapons or other destructive devices onto planes. Since people hate the process so much, they're grouchy, and security staff has to deal with them all. Shift. Long. And somehow, they manage to stay sane.
The pilots are incredibly deserving of thanks as well. They spend years and years learning how to take thousands of lives into their hands every year. So do the traffic controllers. It takes a very dedicated person to accept that kind of responsibility.
Last, but certainly not least, let's not forget the personnel that perform the tasks we hardly even pay attention to: the janitorial staff. All sorts of crazy things happen in airports, and these people constantly go unacknowledged for the messes they have to take care of and be proactive about.
We ought to show gratitude to these people whenever we travel, but all of these services that we take for granted are being handled by people who are going without pay for reasons completely out of their control. It's not just them who suffer either—it's their families too. When you live paycheck to paycheck, a long delay can mean financial insecurity.
So please, next time you find yourself traveling by air, take some time to be extra nice and appreciative to the employees who do so much for you, me, and the whole country every single day.