Two summers ago I went to AirVenture at the last minute. My trip was unplanned, but not unwelcome. How that trip worked out was largely a function of how I chose to view it. Rather than consider it a last minute addition to an already busy work schedule, I decided to view it as an adventure. That decision made all the difference.
With no housing arrangements and little time to make them, I simply packed a tent and a sleeping bag in the car, threw in a small charcoal grill, and headed north. The experience was wonderful. Hardly forty-eight hours after cranking up the car in central Florida I found myself rolling over the paved road at Wittman Regional Airport and into soft grassy infield of Camp Scholler.
On my second day at AirVenture I took the opportunity to sit down for lunch at what I choose to think of as a lovely, aviation-centric bistro on the ramp. Admittedly, the tables and chairs are made of plastic and the umbrellas are not quite handmade heirlooms left over from a previous age, but the atmosphere is pleasant and the food is satisfying. All in all, I have no complaints about the cuisine or the location of the al fresco dining experience at Oshkosh.
While I gnawed at my lunch, a young teenager asked if he could share a seat at the table with me. I welcomed him and we began to chat. It turns out he was working at AirVenture. In fact, this was the first job he had ever held, and he was only a few days into this new tourist driven career he’d chosen. With great animation he told me about the interview process he had to go through to get the job. He also described the work he was doing, most of which involved lifting, moving, opening, or emptying boxes of full of merchandise. None of it was very intellectually taxing, and all of it sounded repetitive and dull to me. But the boy at my table was elated to be telling the tale of his part-time job.
Maybe the most fascinating part of the entire experience for me was the boy’s excitement over being paid to come to AirVenture every day. The smile on his face left no doubt about his attitude toward his job.
It’s little reminders like that I get such a kick out of as I age. A job that would bore me to tears and make my back ache in the process turned out to be the opportunity of a lifetime for my lunch-mate. Then again, I was having a good ol’ time even though I spent a week sleeping on the ground, getting rained on, and showering in a large communal facility that would not do well in the Michelin rankings.
Life is all about how you look at what’s going on around you.
Perspective makes all the difference. What we do on a day to day basis is not nearly so important as how we view what we do, and how we feel about it. Perspective is often the difference between driving the issue and being driven by the issue. It would do us well to remember that. As for me, I’ll just choose to fondly remember my week camping at AirVenture and meeting a teenager who was about as happy and proud of his position in life as any chairman of the board I’ve ever met.
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