I fly a lot and see a fair number of nasty people, or at least they’re nasty when traveling. Although I can be a pretty big jerk as far as airlines are concerned (mostly because I see them largely as tools of the devil), I try to be as nice as possible even when I’m delayed, treated with indifference or pushed around like a second-class human. However, not everyone is so enlightened.
I was once in the check-in line to check a bag (I rarely do this but I had to take a big bag on this trip) and the guy at the counter was giving the agent a pummeling. I don’t know what it was about but he was only a few words away from being hauled away by TSA I am sure. Anyway, I was watching the ticket agent throughout this confrontation and it seemed like it was a toss-up as to whether she was going to blow up or cry.
To make a long story short, angry-guy got or didn’t get what he wanted (probably a window seat) and went along grumpily harrumphing to his gate. I was next up and just stood there for a moment kind of stunned. I crept up to the counter with a smile and calmly asked the agent if she needed a minute. She looked up with a tear in her eye and said she was okay. I then simply said I needed to check my bag and then engaged in a little banter about how some people are just miserable and can’t see beyond their own world. She looked up, nodded and seemed to be in a better frame.
What happened next is where I learned a great lesson. She checked my bag and handed me a ticket. I explained that I had printed my ticket at the hotel and she didn’t need to print one for me. She then let me know that she had to in this case. I was confused. She told me to look carefully. I looked down at a first class ticket with drink vouchers. I asked what was going on and she simply said, “You made me smile.”
What had I learned? No matter how I feel about airlines or a variety of other businesses (TV, internet and phone providers are good examples), the people who work there are people and they deserve to be respected as much as I want them to respect me. A simple act of kindness, a smile and a gentle word, ended with me getting a bonus – a five hour first-class, legroom, champagne, and hot towel bonus. Karma it would seem had worked.
I often hear people say they want to change the world. Here’s my advice. Practice some karmic kindness with someone today. This is how it’s done. This will change not only your world but someone else’s too, and maybe, just maybe, it will spread like some sort of good virus. We can hope.