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 Texas : Features : Columns : "The Girl Detective's Theory of Everything"

Career Alternatives

by Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
I am a nurse because – well, there are a lot of reasons why I am a nurse. But I started down the pathway to being a nurse because I got divorced and I had three little children. My grandpa suggested nursing school. Nursing was a good choice at the time and has been a very good career for me. Still is.

This does not mean that I do not sometimes think of other things that I might do. Well this time my friends I think that I have hit upon something which is a surefire success! The secret to success in business is to see a need and figure out a way to fulfill the need. I was at the airport on Monday to pick up my mother and I noticed a need. With the present state of airport security, all the arriving passengers (or debarkers) have to exit the terminal area at one place and all the people meeting them have to wait together in a bunch rocking from foot to foot, squinting at the screen with the arrival and departure information and chatting a bit now and then to one another. All the passengers from all the flights exit the terminal area at the same place so you get to see many, many reunions while you are standing on your tippy toes hoping that you haven’t forgotten what your mother looks like in the past ten days, that she said Monday and not Sunday, and checking to see that your cell phone still has power.

Here is where the need comes in. There are a certain number of people on each arriving flight who do not have anyone there to meet them. Some of these debarkers do not look worried about it. They just glance up to see where the luggage area is and then head straight to it, looking neither left nor right nor particularly worried. There are others, however, who do not look so single minded and focused. They, unlike their fellow unmet passengers, take note of the happy reunions around them. They look either wistful, or hopeful, or sad, or abashed. They sometimes duck their heads down in a way that lets you know that they are well aware that there is no one to meet them and give them a big hug and take their jacket or carry-on bag from them. They hunch their shoulders protectively and dash for the escalators as if there is nothing on their minds but getting their luggage and getting to the hotel, but you know that it is a lie. You can see a quiver to their lips, a shadow of vulnerability around their tired eyes.

Here is where I could come in. I could hire myself out to meet people at the airport. I could have a sliding scale of enthusiasm and could charge according to how thrilled they wanted me to be to see them. It could range from "second cousin you have not seen since you were 12," to "favorite sister." The happier I was the more I would charge. Which is a little backward from the normal way you pay for things.

Think how good it would make you feel! You arrive in a strange city after an exhausting day, perhaps an exhausting week. You are headed to an over air-conditioned "comfort suite" where you will dine on peanut butter crackers and Sanka while you call home and hear about Janie’s concert which you missed. And to top it all off, you know that you look and feel like exactly what you are – a stranger in a strange place – and this makes you practically invisible to people you may actually have been chatting with in a friendly way on the flight just a short while ago. But wait! There would be me! I would put one arm around your neck, give you a big smacker on your left cheek. "I am sooo glad to see you! How was it? Did you have the best time? Did you miss us? Cuz we missed you! Come on, let’s get your bag and get you fed! It seems like you’ve been gone for a month!"

We would shake hands in the parking lot. I might recommend a nice restaurant to try. He or she would thank me for meeting them, hand me a check folded in half discretely, which I would quickly tuck in my pocket. I might make an appointment to meet them again in two weeks and they would promise to recommend me to a friend who is coming next month. And everybody would be happy. I could branch out and someday have a whole army of meeters and greeters. I think it sounds like a great idea. My husband, however, raised an eyebrow. He said he thought someone had already come up with pretty much the same idea a long time ago. But surely he’s mistaken!

© Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
"The Girl Detective's Theory of Everything"
June 1, 2007 Column
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