Wednesday, February 29, 2012

If You Can't Say Anything Nice...

All my life I've heard, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." I think it's a pretty good philosophy and I try really hard to stick to it. However, it's an election year and apparently many of the politicians didn't have that phrase pounded into them like I did. Political barbs, personal attacks and downright lies abound. Since we don't talk religion and politics on this blog, I won't go into any details. You can find them for yourselves in any newspaper, online and on television.

What I will go into is how saying something nice can pay off.

Back in the summer of 1998, the ex and I had reason to fly to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. After looking at airfares, we decided it would behoove us to drive to Nashville and fly Southwest Airlines. We'd never flown with them before so we had no idea what to expect. But as long as they got us to our destination, we didn't care what color uniforms the flight attendants wore or whether we got peanuts or crackers as an in-flight snack.

Boy were we in for a surprise! The flight attendants wore casual attire; one was even in nice shorts. And talk about friendly! On the return flight from Ft. Lauderdale, we had one who was a wannabe country singer and she entertained us with her singing while the male attendant who was nicknamed "Bingo" told us to wait until the seatbelt sign was off before getting up, to make sure we took all our belongings with us and said, "If you are connecting to an airline other than Southwest, we really don't care." It was THE most fun I'd ever had on a flight, and by the time we'd reached Nashville, we knew all our neighbors on the plane and had practically exchanged addresses and phone numbers.

I was so impressed that I decided to write a letter to Southwest and tell them how much I'd enjoyed not only their flight crew, but also the level of service we'd received.

So color me very surprised when I received an envelope from Southwest Airlines with the following letter:

I didn't get a free ticket or a t-shirt. Even better (well, not better than a free ticket but...) they actually appreciated that I'd written to them and responded in kind. Also included was a copy of a Memorandum for the personnel files of each of the three flight attendants.

"The product is basically the same from one airline to the next -- it's the type of service received that makes the difference. Thanks, gang, for always giving our Customers terrific CRACKER JACK service -- we LUV you for it!!" the memo said.

I thought it was cool that Herb had written me. Then I took a closer look are realized Herb was the Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer of the whole darn Southwest operation. This busy man took time to send a personal letter in response to my compliments of his company. That's service too, and I've never forgotten it.

Sure, I'm quick to complain when I feel it's necessary (and sometimes when it's not), but I also try to be quick to say please and thank you, to open doors for folks and to just smile at people. We're surrounded by crap and I believe those little acts of kindness can make a real difference. Random Acts of Kindness week was week before last, but you don't need a "week" to do nice things.

What RAK have you done lately? If you haven't, go do one!

P.S. Happy Leap Year! It's not often I get to blog on February 29th. Any of you celebrating a birthday today? Know someone who is?

P.P.S. I saw this after I'd written my blog post but it just seemed to fit, so here it is as a post postscript.


PM's Mother said...

Apparently your father and I did a pretty good job of "raising" you, but we had a lot of help i.e. grandparents, neighbors, school teachers, ministers and yes, even television (Captain Kangaroo).

Cheryl C. said...

Lately I haven't been able to do RAK because it usually backfires on me. LOL. I do try to practice it but ungrateful and self-centered people don't really appreciate it. I will keep trying though. Great post PM! It reminded me that there are people out there who appreciate what you do for them or when you try to help.

Sheryl M said...

Very interesting to read, as I did a research project on this very company! Look into their employee perks, how they encourage hiring family, and all the things other companies shun these wonder they are prospering!

robertsonreads said...

Yes, my mom said the same. And like you, I say thank you, and show my appreciation to others. Good thoughts Marilyn.