You and only you get to decide what kind of day you are going to have. Real smiles backed up by patience and offered authentically to people serving you in less than ideal circumstances, will result in a lasting and sustainable desire to help you and others.
I woke up this morning in a hotel room in Atlanta. Not a big deal I wake up in hotel rooms about 75 nights a year. The problem this morning was Atlanta had about three inches of snow yesterday and then it got cold enough for what was left of the snow to turn to ice on the roadways.
Now, if you live in Wisconsin (as I do) none of this would have been a big deal. In Atlanta where I heard on the news this morning they have a whopping NINE salt trucks this was and continues to be a big deal as type this. I knew what was coming this morning so I set the alarm an hour early and turned the local news on as soon as I woke up.
As I suspected I woke to mess. I allowed an hour to get to the airport (a ride that takes about 20 minutes on a normal Saturday morning) and needed every minute of that hour. The main road my hotel is located on was just OK. I had to detour because a train had jumped the tracks on my route or so the officer told me.
I found my way to the freeway and it was not too bad. Well, not until I got within a few miles of the airport then I saw and felt black ice under me. I made it all the way to car return without incident, that’s when airport lines and disappointment set in.
Avis is a great rental car company….until their automated systems fail. No people waiting to scan my bar code and give me a receipt 10 seconds after stepping out of the car. No, just one poor guy telling all of us to write down our miles and gas level then head in for a receipt. He forgot the mention the 30 minute line. In year past I’d have not been happy and would have stood in that line and stewed.
Today, I smiled and headed to the terminal. I don’t take ownership of other peoples problems anymore. The car was in a secure Avis lot and my credit card statement is the only receipt I need. The car has an Avis bar cod on it, they’ll figure it out.
In the terminal it was a whole different kind of messed up that required patience (not my long suit). Perhaps due to the weather about 30 of us waited in line for the one working automated check-in Kiosk. (I couldn’t print my board pass at the hotel due to the business center printer not working). After 20 minutes it was my turn and the kiosk said “Your reservation requires special attention.” I smiled to myself and said who doesn’t want special attention.
Another short line with a very nice woman from Racine (whom I smiled at and offered a pleasant greeting when it was my turn) who sorted it all out and made sure I had a business class upgrade. I was starting to feel good about my smiling and patience.
I started to think about the people working at the airport who did not take the advice of the local newscasters to “stay home if you can.” Their desire to come to work and serve the flying public made me smile more and want to show them even more patience.
The cast of heroes who helped me get home today has to number in the thousands. Road crews who worked nonstop through the night salting and making the roads of Atlanta as safe as they could. The employees of Avis, Airtran and the Atlanta airport who showed up to work today. Probably a whole bunch more I am forgetting.
My personal favorite for hero of the day was the gentleman who fueled our plane. I watched him struggle with the hoses and ladders slipping and sliding everywhere. He was cold he didn’t look real happy. I wanted to go out and help him. Regardless he did his job and I am in the air now thanks to him.
When I am being of service to others (even if I am being paid) all I need is a smile and some patience when things aren’t going great. Smiles and patience come easy when the good times are rolling, but where are yours when things are less than perfect?
It’s Valentines Day weekend – go find someone to smile at – who knows where that might lead if you are patient.