‘Working Lunch’ leaves lasting impression

Monday, April 20, 2020
Melanie Rambo Picture

Well-known American poet Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

A grateful passenger wrote to say TSA Officer Melanie Rambo from South Dakota’s Rapid City Regional Airport (RAP) should be cloned and placed at every customer contact point. What superhero feat did she pull off to garner that level of outstanding recognition?

She empathetically listened to the frazzled passenger and offered concrete help. “Not so special,” you may think.

What if you knew she was on her lunch break when the stressed passenger hesitantly approached her? “That’s nice,” you may think, “but cloning is a bit extreme.”

What if you knew the passenger was traveling to get her sister home for emergency surgery?

In a letter praising Rambo’s actions, a grateful passenger wrote, “[when] I explained the situation, she immediately grasped it. I began asking my questions. She took all the time I needed to be sure I was comfortable and she didn’t give her lunch a second thought. She was there to help even though it had absolutely nothing to do with getting through the screening. I thanked her profusely and she seemed genuinely happy to have helped.”

Rambo wasn’t randomly looking to engage with someone to sprinkle sunshine. The encounter was unexpected, but make no mistake, her reaction was intentional.

When asked about the interruption, Rambo points to the opportunity it opened. “For myself I feel if I am at the airport I am representing TSA and RAP,” she said. “If a passenger approaches me and has a question I do not hesitate to answer it to the best of my ability.”

“This is very typical of Officer Melanie Rambo’s character as she deals with all passengers with the utmost respect,” said Assistant Federal Security Director Polly Collins. “Her efforts contribute to the team by promoting a culture built upon respect and professionalism.”

The passenger ended her letter by saying, “Bravo for Officer Rambo. She quarterbacked a miracle for a very stressed-out traveler and left me with such peace of mind.”

At first blush, Rambo’s actions may seem ordinary, maybe even pedestrian. On closer inspection, she intentionally gave her time and talents to offer solutions to someone amid confusion and turmoil.

Collins noted, “[Rambo’s] professionalism and commitment to the mission advances a positive reputation for the screening workforce in South Dakota and TSA as a whole.”

By Karen Robicheaux, Strategic Communications & Public Affairs