Florida’s Airport Ambassador
Betty Sussman, 80, finds her calling as an official greeter at Palm Beach International Airport
Most of us would just as soon avoid airports, with their long lines and testy patrons. But Betty Sussman thrives there. She is one of approximately 90 volunteers who work a four-hour shift each week at the Palm Beach International Airport, greeting visitors as “airport ambassadors.” Sussman (who turns 81 this month) is not your typical South Floridian. She is still employed; four days a week she works as an office manager for an ophthalmologist. For her, being an airport ambassador eases some of the loneliness she experiences during the weekend—time she used to spend with her husband before he died six years ago. Plus there are perks: She makes good use of the meal voucher she earns each shift, redeemable at any of the airport’s concessions.
Miami-based radio producer Trina Sargalski trailed Betty on one of her Sunday-morning shifts and sent us this dispatch. This segment, from our archive, first ran on June 27, 2011. [Running time: 7:05.]
When I was a kid, my folks were ordinary suburbanites. Then they retired, made aliyah, and got hip.
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