Being able to imagine yourself in the other person’s wheelchair

In the last couple of months, trouble with first one knee and then the other necessitated a period of needing airport assistance when I fly. It’s a delicate situation where it is possible to feel quite vulnerable, even exposed and it has been a real discovery to meet the people whose job it is to deliver this kind of support. Basically, you get put into a wheelchair, or on to a buggy and are zipped through passport control and security at top speed with minimum inconvenience—unless you feel being delivered like a package to your plane count...

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The power of not reacting

Luckily I like Schipol airport—my local airport and the main one for Amsterdam—because I find myself there quite often travelling for work. It’s light and airy, with plenty of good places to drink coffee. Recently I was waiting at the gate for my flight and had the opportunity to observe an incident that seemed to encapsulate several themes from any working day. The first player in the scene was an airport cleaner—a small, quiet man who was sweeping the floor with a wide broom that was able to gather up a generous arc of rubbish. He worked...

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