The security guard grinned so genuinely Paul did a careful scan of his face before determining he didn’t know him. “How are you today, sir? Please set your bag right here, if you will.” He pointed and the brim of his hat dipped. He looked up, smiling wide. “Empty your pockets and do what you can to fill this tray, please.”
Paul took the tray, dropped his wallet and keys inside, and handed it back.
“Thank you! If you’ll step through there”–he pointed to the doorway metal detector–“and we’ll have everything for you on the other side.”
Paul stepped through and didn’t hear a beep. The security guard was there, holding his bag out and the tray with his wallet and keys, grinning and with a nod at the ready. Paul took his things. “May I say, you were very friendly and I thank you. I have a theory that people in charge of security develop an unnecessarily strict demeanor. I realize the importance of their job, but your friendliness was refreshing.” Paul wanted to shake the guard’s hand but worried it would break protocol, so he just stood there, smiling.
“Thank you for taking the time to say so. I’m diligent in my responsibilities, but I strive to bring some friendliness to my trade. Prior to taking this position, I developed the same theory as you.”
“Well,” Paul said, slinging his pack over his shoulder, “I’m glad to find we were both wrong.”
The smile vanished from the guard’s face. “I’ll need you to step over here, sir.”
“I didn’t mean to–”
The guard raised his metal detector baton in a threatening manner. “Sir, you’ll need to come with me.”
Epilogue: Paul missed his plane by five minutes.