I was recently at this transit airport waiting for my connecting flight. The flight had been delayed by over 2 hours. I waited at the lounge for an updated announcement. Next to me on my seating aisle were 2 gentlemen who I believe were waiting for the same flight as I was.
I had been traveling almost the entire day and was bored of sitting in the flights and airports. Wanting to start a conversation, I looked at the gentleman (GM 1) seated next to me and said –
Me – This is turning into a long day…
GM 1- yeah... And you know what, I have been traveling since morning
Me – ah… Same here. I started at 3 in the morning
GM 1 – oh... Sorry to hear that
I noticed that the other gentleman (GM 2) was looking at us almost trying to say something.
GM 1- Where are you traveling from?
Me – Bangalore
GM 1 – Bangalore? India?
Me – Yes
Suddenly the other gentleman pitched in…
GM 2 – You watch soccer? The soccer world cup. You call that football right?
I don’t know how he mixed soccer and Bangalore. I can make sense if it was cricket. But this is football, and football is not as famous as cricket in India. Also India is not playing in the football world cup. Maybe he too was bored and wanted to join the conversation, and he grabbed the first opportunity.
It was a good conversation from then on. We discussed about football world cup at length. The teams we supported, previous world cups, players etc. The conversation at some point shifted to cars and then into petrol and diesel cars. Somewhere one of us brought in movies which were themed on cars and racing, and soon we were talking about movies. I think we had been talking for almost 20-30 mins.
We were on a momentary thinking pause, when an elderly gentleman (EG) sitting diagonally opposite to me, looked at me and said –
EG – Hey. You know... You talk a lot.
I was stunned. Suddenly my brain felt empty and there were no words down my throat. It took me a few moments to gather myself. We were talking in a low voice, there was nothing unethical in our talk, and so I saw no reason why he had said that.
EG – oh oh… I apologize. Please don’t take me wrong. I am really sorry.
Me – ok
EG – Actually what I meant was you spoke about a lot of things. You seem to know a lot of things.
Wow! What was that? Was that an appreciation or some kind of cover up? But it actually felt good. He then looked at the 3 of us and continued –
EG (with a big smile) – You all do. You all know a lot of things and I really liked the conversation.
I looked at the faces of the other two. They seemed equally stunned, and neither said a word. It was complete silence from then on. I didn’t open my mouth nor did the other two guys. Soon there was an announcement for boarding our flight. I gave a smile to the 3 gentlemen and walked towards the boarding area. Not a word was spoken.
It has been almost 2 weeks since that happened. I am still unable to make meaning of what had happened that day. Was that a complaint or a compliment? Either way it has left me thoughtful. These days every time I talk to somebody I subconsciously ask myself if I am talking to the point or if I have crossed it.
Compliments can make you feel good. Complaints can make you feel bad. But what about Compliments which start with a Complaint? Hmm... I am getting there.
~Narendra V Joshi