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The Importance Of Unimportant Things

September 9, 2014


I’m sorry Mr Bliss, your boarding pass isn’t registering.


You are not scheduled to be on this flight.

Ah. . .

Were you planning on going to Cleveland?

No. I’m headed for Salt Lake City. I’m just connecting through Cleveland. . .I think.

Let me see your ticket. You are connecting through Detroit. That’s gate E9 boarding in about 20 minutes.


It wasn’t totally my fault. The airport didn’t have anyone at the information booth. I asked a gate agent and they kind of nonchalantly directed me to gate E5, leaving for Cleveland at 5:05.

Had it not been for that boarding pass, I would have found myself in Ohio instead of Michigan without a connecting flight to Salt Lake. Anyone who’s been through security at an airport knows that the importance of having your boarding pass is only surpassed by the importance of having your ID.

So how important is your boarding pass?

It’s worthless.

As soon as you walk on that plane, it loses all value. Well, technically, it’s good for convincing the person who should be in 12C that they need to vacate 11C. But, the boarding pass goes from critically important to completely useless in the space of about 10 seconds.

I’m staying in Richmond Virginia for the week. Naturally I’m staying in a hotel. Hotel keys are intentionally anonymous. They provide no personal information. And yet the electronic encoding grants you access to your stuff and keeps everyone else away. . .except for the cleaning staff, but that’s really beside the point.

These items are very important, critical even. And yet when they outlive their usefulness they are worthless.

(Photo Credit: Mike Pennacchi)

Most places I’ve worked profess to believe “People are our most valuable asset.” On a couple of occasions my job has been eliminated and the company decided to keep my on the payroll until a new position opened up. It’s a smart move.

If I’d somehow ended up in Cleveland, a few hundred dollars would have set me on the path home again. During several layoffs I’ve witnessed companies layoff employees and only too late realize the employees have valuable information, information that would be really expensive to recreate. So, they end up hiring the employee back as a contractor at a higher salary.

Some things become worthless the moment they are done being used. People are not those things.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and one grandchild.

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