It was cold last week in the mid-west of the USA. Freezing cold. Thursday morning the temperature went down to zero Fahrenheit (-20 centigrade)! It was painful to be outside. It was painful to walk from my plane into the airport via the jetty. I had hats, gloves, jackets, coats and warm socks. I was still cold. I arrived back in the UK on Friday – it was cloudy, raining…and warm. Bliss.
I spent Wednesday day at corporate HQ on the East Coast in a meeting with one of our partners. We had some great discussions and some tougher discussions. Tough is sometimes as important as great. We made progress. It was the last meeting of the joint team before the Holidays and someone had brought in boxes of French Chocolates – one per team member – as a gift. I left the room last and (somehow) ended up with three boxes (it was a shame to leave them).
But I had to fly back to the mid-west Wednesday evening and didn’t really have room (or need) to take three boxes of French Chocolates all the way with me. I had to improvise.
I had a car booked to take me back to Newark. I realised the driver was the same as the one who had met me at Newark late the previous evening. He was friendly and both times. And he happily sat at the airport waiting for me to finish my teleconference. I shook his hand as I left…and gave him a box of French Chocolates, thanked him and said this is for you. He smiled and enormous smile, grabbed my hand again and thanked me again.
As I passed through security and walked to my departure gate, I smiled to myself; I thought about how happy my driver had seemed. I felt good.
My connecting flight to Chicago was running late. Everyone was at the gate waiting to be called. I have no status with the internal US flights and so was in boarding group 5 (the last group). I handed my ticket to the gate assistant; she confirmed it was OK, apologised for the delay and wished me well.
I gave her a box of French Chocolates, thanked her and said this is for you. She looked stunned. But I could hear her shouting thank you as I walked down the jetty to the plane. I smiled (so much so that even the plane attendant smiled back at me). I felt good. All the way to Chicago.
One flight left and one box of French chocolates left. Sure enough the gate attendant in Chicago was as delighted as she was surprised to receive her chocolates – again after she had confirmed my ticket. For a moment she seemed so happy I thought she was going to hug me. As I shivered down the jet-bridge I could hear her calling thank you after me. The two (group 5) passengers behind me even spoke to me. ‘You just made her day you know?’ ‘I’ve never seen anyone do that before’. I felt good (and warmer) all the way back to the mid-west.
The impact of my gifts on the gate clerks is easier to understand. My guess is that most people who pass them by are agitated, anxious or both…especially those in Group 5! The car driver was a little harder to understand. He probably gets tips quite often. Just maybe not a box of French chocolates.
My guess is that it was the randomness of my acts of kindness that made the impact. The last thing they were expecting…had made them – and me – feel the best.