Watching people lose their cool on both sides of the counter.
I received a crisis call for my immediate help in North Carolina, for a couple needing two crisis relationship Coaching sessions. “Mike, we need your help in repairing our marriage the caller asked, can you please come, we arenear a divorce and my wife wants to leave tonight?” Sure, I said, I will check with a friend to see if he can help me out with a buddy pass, and let you know when I am coming, and then hung up. I thought for a moment, did I just say that I would get a buddy pass?? Am, I out of my mind? I remembered the last time I got one, being on stand-by is a crap shoot, do you remember me saying that? You rarely connect with a flight you need to be on, and you sit around a lot waiting to have your name called to get a boarding pass. I am a people watcher and enjoy watching people interact with each other. So, I guess it was worth it for me to be on standby and observe people the around me.
So, I took the buddy pass from my friend and headed to North Carolina. On my return trip to Chicago while trying to connect on a flight to Denver, I was able to watch what 100 plus over booked passengers on one flight, will do to get on a Sunday afternoon flight to Denver. I sat back in my seat that Sunday afternoon figuring that I wouldn’t get on this flight and wanted to observe how people would react when their names were not called to board this flight to Denver. When I entered my name to the confirm/waiting list and saw my name number #6 with 22 seats available, I was feeling pretty good. As the crowd grew at the boarding gate an hour prior to my flight, my number #6 listing began to drop, I was now at #33. People were whispering and complaining, how could this airline over book so many people on one flight? When I looked up at the stand-by list 15 minutes later, I was now # 68 with 10 seats available. The crowd grew larger by the minute, and the complaining was getting very vocal. I sat and watched people checking their watches from time to time, looking at loved ones with frowns on their faces, rubbing their foreheads, and giving long sighs while looking at the ceiling. You could hear the ticket agent asking for names of passengers over the intercom to come forward to confirm their status. I looked again at the stand-by list, I was now #93 with 4 seats available. I laughed silently to myself and knew that I was staying at O’Hare airport until there was room for me on any flight to Denver. I overheard one couple arguing that they were going to miss a big birthday bash in Denver, while another wanted to get some rest before going back to work, they just returned back from vacation. The ticket agent continued to ask for passengers to come forward to check in. I again looked at the stand-by list, it was now at 107 people.
One of the ticket agents started to call First class passengers in a muffled voice over the intercom to get in line for boarding. Several quickly got up and started to get in line, many dressed in executive suits, many elderly, and some plain folks just like you and I. As they began to board first class, some people tried cutting in line and got caught with a economy boarding pass, and were turned away. This is where it got very interesting. I watched the faces of those with first class tickets, many smirked and laughed out loud, as the unwanted passenger walked away. They acted as if it was a class privilege to make facial expressions and giggle about someone being asked to leave the first class boarding line.
Me, I could care less who sits where, first class has some perks, but most in first class seldom will talk with you, unless they got a free first class seat, and didn’t realize that any seat in first class is sacred possession. I have noticed this over the past several months of traveling. I sat next to one guy in first class several weeks ago, I introduced myself and he turned his head away and sat back, and never said a word.
The flight to Denver took off with 103 stand-by’s waiting at the gate..many stunned, and now the war began between ticket agents and passengers headed to Denver. We were told to go to gate B-19 and wait until 5:45 PM for the next flight. I arrived at the gate after a twenty minute walk and was amazed that there was standing room only, not a seat available, I recognized several passengers that were at the other gate. I looked at the stand by list and saw that I was #77 on the list with 15 seats available. Not a good sign for me. The plane was to board in one hour, now the tension began to grow and people were getting upset. I went to the ticket agent to report in, and waited in line. The passengers ahead of me and the ticket agents were starting to trade barbs with each other.
I was shocked to hear two ticket agents, blasting passengers with cutting sarcastic remarks. The passengers on the other hand were provoking the ticket agents with unrelenting attacks towards the airlines and insensitive employees behind the ticket counter. The ticket agents and the passengers fueled off of each other and went to low blows before the plane boarded. The flight to Denver had taken off with 100+stand-by’s told to head to the next gate on Concourse C. This flight left for Denver at 10:10 PM.
Someone must have warned the three ticket agents that the crowd headed to Denver were not to be taken lightly. I think this airline beefed up thick skinned ticket agents who would love to trade insult for insult, and by golly they did. Whack for whack, attack for attack. It was pretty bad, I have to say, no calm in the midst of the storm for sure. I wondered whatever happened to customer service, when did that disappear? I can remember when people bent over backwards to help you out if you did business with them. Do you remember the days when service with a smile greeted you at a Sears, Montgomery Wards, or at your favorite local family restaurant. Well my friends, I think for the most part these days are long gone.
So, how do you deal with someone who could careless about you as a customer and is serving you at a store or restaurant? Do you engage in verbal combat, and try to get even or deal with them in an adult manner? I know some adults who would welcome debating, arguing and proving their case and put down anyone who disagrees with them, and I am sure you do as well.
My suggestion is not to argue with clerks, wait-staff or anyone in a management position, just state your case, the reason you are upset, no raising your voice, no finger pointing, be calm and ask what they can do to accommodate your inconvenience. Some will work with you and give you a price break, free meal, others will blow you off. A soft answer will turn away someone with a chip on their shoulder. If you get no satisfaction, then write a formal letter and be done with it. So many want to carry the battle on, until they win. Folks, its not worth the battle or waste of energy to pursue something that will go nowhere. If there was bodily harm, food borne illness, a fall, etc. Then proceed by all means. If you don’t get any satisfaction or results from your letter, then stop going to the place that you patronize and were offended, and find another place.
I finally flew out the next morning at 9:00 AM, very tired but so much the wiser for watching people in difficult situations. Watch, listen and enjoy watching those around you, they will teach you plenty.