This morning I was boarding a flight from Denver back to Columbus. The Denver airport as a madhouse, the security lines apparently were record-breaking in their length, and there was a certain grim-faced tension in the air. But the gate for the flight to Columbus was an oasis of . . . niceness.
They called the groups, and there wasn’t the customary sharp-elbowed clustering around the entrance way to the gate. As my group was called, I motioned a young woman to go ahead of me, and then a young guy motioned me to go ahead of him. The young woman shook her head, looked at me, and asked: “Is everyone in Columbus so nice?”
I asked her what she meant, and she said that she had just gotten off a flight where the jostling for seats and carry-on space had gotten uncomfortably close to outright anger between passengers. The willingness to let others go first and accept that, yes, your seat would still be there was amazing to her. “Well, I can’t say that everyone in Columbus is nice, but it is the Midwest,” I responded. “People say hello to each other, smile at each other on the street, and don’t mind having a pleasant conversation with a stranger in a public place.”
She was coming to Columbus for a conference and decided to make a vacation out of it, and we chatted briefly about some things to do here. When I wished her a good trip, she said she was looking forward to her visit and that it would be great to go to a place where people were actually pleasant to each other.
Columbus — we may not have mountains, or oceans, or lakes, but what we lack in striking natural beauty we make up in politeness.