Start with a Baseline of Kindness

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I flew back from an undisclosed location yesterday after a visit with my in-laws, and was flabbergasted by the attitudes I encountered in what has always been a very warm and hospitable airport. I don’t know what was going on—maybe there was something in the water there yesterday?—but it started when we walked up to the counter to check in. We had been getting e-mails for a couple of hours about our flight being delayed, and the kiosks wouldn’t accept our tickets. So we waited for a human to help us. When he finally became available, the guy at the counter couldn’t have been nastier. From insisting he knew how to spell our last name better than we did (because he knows my father-in-law, weirdly enough), to loudly telling us he “couldn’t care less” if we made our connection or not as we tried to rebook, it was just an unpleasant experience, and one we walked away from shaking our heads in dismay.

The board kept telling us our original flight was on time, however, so my husband went to check to make sure it didn’t somehow come back online despite the e-mails. The woman he asked told him that yes, the flight was still delayed beyond anything useful to us, but it was too much of a bother to change it because she would have to do it manually. Then the TSA guy started complaining to me about how all the rule changes make his life such a pain and went on a rant about the powers-that-be.

And so on. We tried to remain true to our sunny selves, but it was just ugly, and doubly so for happening in a place that I have always experienced about as good an attitude on the part of the people who work there as is possible in a stressful place like an airport.

So I’d like to take the opportunity to ask that, before we shoot off a sarcastic reply or roll our eyes or snort in derision or take out whatever we have going on on those around us, let’s all take a deep breath and try to connect with the people we’re dealing with as fellow humans on a journey together. While I did shoot off a complaint (did these companies and organizations know how their front-line staff were behaving? They should), I also tried not to react to the nastiness in kind.

Let’s start off with a baseline of kindness and proceed from there. It not only will make life a bit sweeter for the people were dealing with, but we’ll find our own moods starting to lift a bit too.

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