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Monday, March 19, 2012

Can you Celebrate Acts of Kindness?

Recognizing and Celebrating Acts of Kindness

This week I had the opportunity to go to San Francisco for work.  I was going to a pretty darned interesting and neat customer event where I was presenting on "Building Community."  It was a great event with close to 8,000 people in attendance.  I got to meet a lot of great people, share information and learn more about my many colleagues.

While this post may appear to be about travel, it is not. It is about what we can learn from people - strangers - who remember that we are human beings sharing a space and sharing a common goal.  It is times like these that I learn more about humanity and the fact that we all need to take a minute to think about someone else and not just ourselves.

The travel to and from San Francisco meant very long days, but it was worth it.

YFC Fire Fighter in Background attending to fire
Arriving at the airport on Wednesday morning at 4:45 a.m. I thought of my former colleagues that I used to work with at the Airport Authority.  There had been freezing rain overnight, but despite the labour issues plaguing the workers, they were out making sure that things were safe for all of us travelling that morning.  Thanks guys!!  I think of all of you often.

The flights to San Francisco were uneventful, which quite frankly is just fine with me.  However, my journey home was a little more eventful.

Act of kindness - Act I

The journey was very long and interesting.  On the first leg of the flight there was a man who had a very orange and puffy winter coat (think George from Seinfeld) and while he did not wear it sitting in his seat, he decided that he would put it on every time he went to the washroom.  He went a lot.  After about the 5th visit - I am guessing - he ended up on the floor.  Not sure what happened.  During the close to six hour flight, he was on the floor at least three times and hidden behind the curtain in the back of the plane at least three times.  I have to congratulate the way that the flight attendants handled the situation.  It was very professional.  They were calm.  They kept him calm.  They kept the passengers in the vicinity of these "events" calm.

At the end of this flight, I had a short connection - which really is the theme of this trip.  I was in the second last row of this lovely Airbus and wanted to get through Customs and make my connection to Ottawa so that I could get to my last flight.  I want to recognize the kindness of the many people who willingly let me pass by them so that I could get out before them.  In fact, a whole Rugby team who lived in the Greater Toronto Area, let me go ahead of them.  I wish I could acknowledge the team here, but I didn't have time to ask who they were.  Despite this, I say a full hearted Thank You!

Act of kindness - Act II

More often than not people like to tell their stories of how bad something was.  How bad customer service was, how mean people are or how a product failed to live up to expectations.  I think that Airlines no doubt get the brunt of bad feedback in public forums.  I, however, want to focus on an absolutely kind and customer-focused Flight Attendant of Air Canada Flight AC 460 from Toronto to Ottawa on the night of March 16th. 

While he was responsible for Business Class passengers and I was not one, he was amazing to both me and my colleague.  Due to a delay caused by a broken overhead bin, which needed to be attended to for safety reasons, we were left with about 10 minutes to make our connection - the final leg of 10+ hour journey.  Not only did he retrieve our carry-on luggage and bring it to the front of the plane - and properly store it for safety - but he also made sure that we were the first two passengers out of the plane - again an Airbus that was completely full.  He ensured that the ground crew had been radioed in advance and there was someone there to meet us and direct us to our gate.  Ultimately we made it home!

So, this made me think when was the last time I helped a stranger?  Now I will challenge you: When was the last time that you helped a stranger, a friend or a colleague?  If you can't remember, I hope that this will spur you on to help one person a day.  Think about how you would feel if you were in their respective shoes. 

AC logo courtesy of AC website and YFC photo from 2009 Annual Report

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