2014-03-20

"We Are Pleased and Honored..."

Beirut Airport DSC 0439
By Captainm (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
If you have ever flown out of Beirut's (only) international airport then chances are you probably have had the chance to hear the overzealous welcoming message that gets pushed through the loudspeakers all over the facility:

"Welcome to Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport. 

We are pleased and honored to have you in our city".


Pleased and Honored, you say?
Those two consecutive adjectives just get the best of me every time I hear them.
See, I am not a jet-setter, but in my modest travels, I have never heard any city airport shout-out to passing travelers that it was honored to have them over, even in the most touristic of cities.

This got me really thinking about all the hidden reasons and emotions associated with it, and to me, that sentence wreaks of self-loathing. It makes me feel, as a citizen who payed/pays for this facility,  like I am that sort of sleazy whatchamacallit-monger who is desperately cozying up to foreigners in hope of selling them some useless artifact; in this case the artifact is a city and a way of life that is in a constant downward spiral, simply because no one is willing to wake up and smell the coffee [sponsors, you are welcome to contact me and I will insert your coffee brand here, yes shameless...].

We are proud, we think the universe revolves around our Lebanese identity, and then we hurry and bury our heads in the sand in the hope of problems flying by unnoticed (proud Lebanese this is your cue to start bashing me if you have not started yet)
Yet in the middle of all that, we are honored to have people in our city.  Because if there's something we can do well, it's sucking up.

We suck-up to the kindergarten teacher, to the principal, to the boss, to the client to the policeman and to the tourist. I'm not saying we need to be rude, but maybe, just maybe, if we ever decide to apply rules and law instead of flattery and pleasantries, we just might become a real nation and not merely a country; a state in a constant state of being pleased to have you in our city.