Gemini Adams's Reviews > Step Back From The Baggage Claim: Change The World, Start At The Airport

Step Back From The Baggage Claim by Jason Barger
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's review
Aug 24, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2013
Read in August, 2009

The message behind this book is a powerful one; it asks us to stop, step back and reflect on our behaviors, take note of where we are being ungrateful, ungracious, even unkind, and look at how we can make a change. The observation that Jason Barger makes while standing at the baggage claim is one that has bugged me for years, similarly, I have wanted to scream at the top of my lungs "why are you budging the elderly/young/pregnant woman out of the way, you selfish pig!" or to crow at the young, fit healthy man who has muscles bulging from his Magaloof tanktop, "can't you spare a little elbow grease to help your fellow travelers lift their heavy bags?"

Barger makes the sad observation that in many parts of the world chivalry and even basic social graces are dead. Especially in transport hubs such as airports and train stations, places where guards and porters once made a decent wage to help those who needed a hand, and even those who didn't. Oh, if only we could return to the '40s, where those smiling, helpful attendants did just that, and people really did come before profit and personal convenience.

Fortunately, this is the central message to Barger's book: that we can bring about that change, one book, one flight, one journey at a time. My favorite bit is the very last page, which features a form to complete, stating where you bought the book and the name of the owner. The author's request is that you then leave the book somewhere (on a bus, at a cafe, in the departure lounge) in the hope that a new reader will pick up the book and pass along the message, let's hope this one gets into the hand of millions so that a real difference can be made to the way we treat each other, not only at the baggage claim.

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