I took a week’s vacation to northern California a few weeks ago, just south of Mendocino - Irish Beach, to be exact. You’d think that this information would not warrant a mention in a forum such as this (and you’d think right) if it weren’t for the fact that my colleague Tim Tolan wrote an entire blog post about the importance of taking time off and used me as his example of how to successfully be a slacker. Thanks, Tim.
However, in the spirit of Tim’s blog, and since the holidays are upon us and many of us will be traveling, I thought I’d point out an example of my own, but this one is worth a mention since it was someone we can all learn from who was rude and thoroughly obnoxious, not just someone who was sitting in a hot tub on the California coast drinking local wine and getting some well-deserved R & R, Tim.
At any rate. So here I am on my vacation, with enough frequent flier miles to fly First Class (which I’ll bet is the only way everyone else is there, too) on my way home from San Francisco to Tulsa, with a connection in Dallas. The flight arrived in Dallas several minutes early, and was perfect - no surly ticket agents, no turbulence, no crying babies, no H1N1 suspects hacking or sneezing without using the elbow duck and cover tactic, no disgusting person camping out in the bathroom and ruining it for everyone else, no drunk dude arguing about the definition of an “approved electronic device.” Seriously, perfect. So there was no way any reasonable person could get angry when, after a delay of about two minutes, the flight attendant got on the intercom and explained that the jetway had malfunctioned, and we’d be able to deplane as soon as it was fixed. And that it shouldn’t be long, but she’d appreciate our patience, and it sure would make sense for us all to sit down and relax. And that she’d tell us as soon as she knew more. And thank you. Yep, she said all that. So there was no way any reasonable person could get angry.
But guess what? This may come as a total surprise to you, but not everyone in First Class is reasonable – even if they did “earn” their leather-covered wider seat with free drinks and a shrink-wrapped pillow and blanket and the least matronly flight attendant. Even then. No, as soon as the captain turned off the seat belt sign, and the passengers reacted like Pavlov’s dog to the “ding” that accompanied it by frantically unbuckling their metal flap, the “gentleman” across the aisle leapt up, grabbed his carry-on from the overhead bin, placed it in the aisle in front of him, and stood there twitching like a Preakness thoroughbred waiting for the starting gate to be lifted. I didn’t give it much thought – there’s always one of those, right? But then came the announcement about the jetway. And that’s when the fun began. No sooner had our least matronly flight attendant uttered, “Thank you,” than the Anxious Sad Sack (A.S.S) uttered his own reply, “Sh&t!” And then? He kicked his bag. I’m not kidding – like a spoiled little kid. And then? A.S.S (loudly) muttered, “I don’t f*%king believe this!” At this point, out came the cell phone, so he could share his unbelievably tragic situation with anyone who would listen. It was at this point my blogger’s sensibilities took over, and I went into stealth mode, snapping a photo of this giant A.S.S standing in the aisle. (As you can see, my description is apt from many perspectives).
I’m not exactly sure, but I think it was also about that time that the flight attendant let us know that it might be, at the most, another 10 minutes or so. I do know that that was definitely when A.S.S stomped his foot and shook his head and snorted, like an angry bull. I’m not kidding - jowls a’flappin. And then just to make sure he really made a statement, he kicked his bag again. And when the flight attendant came back on two minutes later to tell us the jetway was fixed? A.S.S said, loud enough for those back in the cheap seats to hear, “Well it’s about f*%king time!”
Nice. But there are A.S.Ses everywhere – we’ve all seen them. And if this guy was just a random A.S.S I probably wouldn’t be blogging about him and pretending to be Agent 99 with an iPhone. But here’s the thing. Back in San Francisco, when we were still on the ground and the least matronly flight attendant was serving us pre-flight cocktails? A.S.S was on the phone, talking (loudly) about the fact that some key position needed to be filled in his department and he (big deal that he was) was going to have his secretary post the job on The Ladders. It doesn’t take a secret agent to deduce from his conversation that this guy was in an upper-management role of some sort, and had enough authority to hire a 100K+ employee. Scary, huh? What if, pre-tantrum, he had mentioned his company to a fellow passenger, worn a logoed ball cap, or handed someone a business card? (Actually, he may have – I was too busy playing with my multi-stationed reclining leather-covered seat and ordering free Bloody Marys to notice). So what then? Would you want to work for this A.S.S? Would you want to work for any company who would hire this A.S.S? Me, neither.
So as we all gear up for the holiday season and head to the airport, let’s remember to be courteous, patient, and professional at all times, because ‘tis the season AND because both your professional and your personal brand go with you – everywhere. And, if you’re an A.S.S, you just never know who’s watching – it could be a prospective employee, a prospective employer, or an employment blogger armed with a few Bloody Marys and an iPhone. Ho Ho Ho!