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A Failure to Communicate

A brief anecdote that I’ve been meaning to share.

I was at the airport getting my ticket at the counter, and I heard the agent at the next line asking a traveler when his passport expires. He had no idea what she was asking, and said so. “No understand.” The agent repeated the question, once, twice, and then shouting, “What is the expiration date of your passport?!” The man had obvious signs of being in the high tech field, logos I recognized, which had me thinking he was an engineer. But he was Asian, and obviously wasn’t understanding this word no matter how loud the agent shouted.

I felt compelled to do something, so I walked over, looked at him and said,”Sorry. When passport no good?” He repeated my words, looked at the passport and immediately found the date the agent couldn’t see. The passport was put down in front of the agent, the man’s finger pointing, and with a grin, he said,”expiration date.” He then turned back to me and held his arms out, I leaned in and hugged this stranger I just helped. I won’t forget this, or the look on the agent’s face. She seemed unhappy this issue was resolved. I think about that situation now and then, and I’m reminded how sometimes a bit of patience and understanding is all it takes.

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