But 4 1/2 years later, Blenkin is still going to the airport three times each week, patiently answering questions posed by weary travelers.
"I wake up looking forward to this job all the time," said Blenkin, 60.
He enjoys the position so much he works 16 hours each week, even though LAX's Volunteer Information Professionals program only asks volunteers to devote four hours weekly to their booths. Before the airport instituted that program about two years ago, Blenkin volunteered in a similar capacity for its predecessor, called Travelers Aid.
Passengers ask all types of questions. But often, they want to know how they can get to Disneyland, where they can find the bathroom and how they can have better success at persuading airline customer service employees to help them.
Asked about his favorite travelers, Blenkin laughs.
"People that are happy, which is not always the case, and people who have a smiling face and say `thank you' when you give them information."
Blenkin's colleagues say he is almost always smiling and is rarely terse with passengers, even though Blenkin acknowledged questions posed at the airport -- such as "where can I find my bags?" -- can get repetitive. He said he knows passengers aren't always at their sharpest at the airport.
"When you get off a flight, you're kind of out of it," Blenkin said. "You kind of need a friendly face to give you some direction."
Blenkin sometimes even advocates to airline employees on behalf of a passenger, especially if the passenger does not speak English well. He helps people find lost luggage, or tells them what to do if they believe their electronics have been stolen.
"He just takes that extra step to help somebody and help them with a problem and stays with them until they resolve the problem," said Britt Wild, 73, another volunteer in the LAX program. "He is a fine example of someone who helps out at the airport and has a heart for anybody that is having troubles."
Blenkin is also part of the elite LAX meet-and-greet team, volunteers who are selected to help some non-English-speaking passengers navigate from gate to gate. One time, he met a Russian man who spoke no English and he guided him to his connecting flight to Carlsbad, where he was to meet his daughter.
Only about two dozen of the information program's 300 volunteers are qualified for the meet-and-greet team, said Gail Gaddi, manager of the LAX volunteer program.
"Carl has such a positive attitude," Gaddi said. "He is a little bit of a jokester, he is warm and he gives a lot of hugs."
Blenkin said his background working in social services, mainly with senior citizens, has been helpful. One time, he said he was approached by a young woman who had been abused by her husband and was running away with her daughter to California. Eventually, with help from Los Angeles World Airports police and a local shelter, the woman reached her destination - her mother's home.
"We intervened and tried to get this woman to where her mother was," Blenkin said. "It was sad."
Blenkin said he is looking for a full-time job but said he hopes to continue volunteering at the airport for a long time.
"I'm a people person," he said. "I'm not a person who does well sitting at home."
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