When I came back into the U. S. recently from another country, the airport was crowded, with insufficient signage so I didn't know where to go.
Here was the surprising part: the customs people were pleasant. "Have a nice day," they said, and "welcome back!"
So were the TSA screeners. We were all stressed out, since everyone had connecting flights and the lines were long and slow in a cramped, hot space. I put my stuff in the 4 bins (laptop separate from iPad, don't forget, unless it's one of the airports where they yell at you to put them together) and put my hands above my head in the scanner booth, as directed. When I got out, the woman who told me to go ahead pointed to my Fitbit and said, "I want to get one of those with a watch in it."
"Me, too," I said. "This is an older one."
It wasn't so much what she said as that she was making a human connection after all that stress. I noticed that the other screeners were doing similar things--just saying something mildly human and noncommittal.
I had seen one of the male TSA agents joking with a bevy of slender, pretty young blonde women waiting to go through, but that's how 40-ish men usually behave around young things. But no: the agents seemed to pay some pleasant attention to several people, even those of us who aren't slender 20-year-olds, instead of barking at us about what we were doing wrong.
Is this some new training that TSA is doing? If so, please continue it.
I'll be heading out for a research trip in a few weeks, and while I'm grateful for the opportunity, I would just like to stay home for a while.
Would I go if I could get the materials online? Probably, yes, because there's nothing like an archive.
But when they invent a 3D virtual reality archive in my subject area, I certainly want to try it out.