A smile was my ticket to California


Day Old Bread and Doggie Bag Series

I made it exactly one hour before my flight at Terminal D. I walked in to the airport and I was greeted with an enormous line at the ticket counter.  I felt my heart pounding.

I gathered all the facts and realized I was in the wrong line.  The self-checkout section was EMPTY.  I tried to check-in and got the dreaded message that I needed to see an airline representative. 

I stood in line among the other “self-checkout” customers.  It was technically impossible that my name would ever be called because I couldn’t get that far in the self-checkout process.  My heart was pounding.  I’m concerned I’m going to miss my flight.  I decided to use Dale Carnegie’s principle 5:  Smile.

I smiled—and got the attention of one of the ticket agents.  I explained my case and she told me I would have to go wait in line—(the line that was MILES long).  I looked at her puzzled—saying my flight leaves in one hour.

She grumbled that she’d help me in a minute.

I managed to get the attention of another ticket agent who was kind-hearted.  I smiled at her and explained I tried to do the self-checkout but apparently I’m “special.”  She asked where I was going—then said… “oh…”

I replied, “uh-oh.  Should I be concerned?”

“That flight has been cancelled.” She replied.

Oddly enough I was relieved.  (A very strange reaction indeed!)  I was worried I would miss the flight because I was so darn late—the lines were long and I hadn’t even made it through security. 

I smiled at the ticket agent and said… “I’m flexible.  If you want to send me all over theU.S.to get there, that’s fine.  I just have to get there sometime today.”

So she looked.  It was too late to get on the flight that was leaving in a half hour.  She looked again and found a flight at night that was booked but I could try standby.  I agreed, checked in my bag in advance and thanked her for her help.  I said to her “I really appreciate this—I’d like to give you something I made…” 

Small gestures of appreciation will take you a long way

I pulled out a somewhat worn and tattered but well loved embroidered “Thank you” card I had stitched.  I’ve been carrying it everywhere waiting for an opportunity to actually hand it over to someone but I also thought it was so frayed no one would really want it. 

The woman’s face lit up when I gave her my simple gift.  You’d think I had given her gold.  “Oh, wow—I love things like this—thank you!”

The Dale Carnegie principle I used in this scenario is from How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 2.  Give honest, sincere appreciation.
Principle 5.  Smile.

From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
How to face trouble:

a.      Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can possibly happen?
b.      Prepare to accept the worst.
c.       Try to improve on the worst.

I knew I appeared to be just another disgruntled, impatient traveler among the mob of travelers who were standing in line.  That is why I put every effort into making eye contact, smiling and being genuinely appreciative for the attention the ticket agent gave me.  She could very well have directed me to join the masses of people in the very long line.  Instead she helped solve my dilemma and she did it with courtesy.

So remember—instead of focusing on what you want from another person—(in my case, I wanted assistance checking in)—consider what the other person wants.  Don’t scowl, don’t demand, don’t gripe or complain.  Instead, treat the person with respect.  Begin in a friendly way.  When you take this approach—you won’t waste your energy on negativity and odds are you’ll get what you want from the other person.

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