By Justin Boron
Ground transportation employees Derek Maddocks and Christopher Marks raced against the clock in a buzzer beater basketball game while Naomi Brown zipped a foam football through a wide receiver target Tuesday at the Georgia International Convention Center.
Almost 200 airport employees adapted a corner of the straight-laced convention center into a small carnival as the Department of Aviation recognized customer service representatives ranging from international translators to maintenance workers at its 9th Annual Employee Appreciation Celebration.
Several companies and departments at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport were represented.
Blue work shirts of maintenance crews mixed with the dark suits of office employees at Delta Air Lines and AirTran Airways.
Fresh off the tarmac from a painting job, Jerry Patterson sat down to crisply folded linens and an assortment of entrees including chicken piccata with lemon sauce, penne pasta alfredo, and yellow squash.
Patterson said he could enjoy the ceremony but only for a short time though, demonstrating the type of diligence honored at the ceremony.
"I got to get right back to work," he said.
Other employees like translator Trudy Gayle took a load off while Island Spa and Wellness employees kneaded their backs in a ten minute massage before lunch.
"It's like I'm wide awake in a dream," Gayle said.
Waiting in line for a massage, Pat Armes, who works in concession management at the airport, joked about having the service available full-time.
"We've been trying to get some of these in the airport," she said.
The amenities whether festive or soothing were aimed at giving employees a break from their efforts to subdue frustrated faces and streamline airport procedure every day, said Naomi Brown, the planning committee chairperson for the event.
Ben DeCosta, the aviation general manager, gave the introductory address and handed out special awards.
"I applaud the spirit of customer service demonstrated by all honorees; your attitude not only positively impacts the travel experience of our customers, it also enhances the image of our Airport," he said in a letter given to each employee as they registered.
The award ceremony honored all of the airport's customer service employees, but singled out some specifically who went above and beyond their required duty.
Garth Collins And Chris Warner, who work in the Department of Aviation Landside Operations, were given the Heroic Service Award for clearing an area in the South Terminal for a baby delivery.