At the time that I walked up to the desk to talk to the agent, I'd been awake for almost 30 hours. I was tired. But I was ready to head home. Additionally, I was in Toronto, so I was expecting a long flight. And even in the nicer Economy Plus that United offers, it wasn't going to be a luxurious trip home.
I was tired. I was missing my family. And because of those nifty big screen monitors, I could tell I wasn't next in line for an upgrade to first.
But what made the moment memorable was the jerk in line in front of me.
Now we've all been there, right?
We've all been behind the person who doesn't seem to understand that the agent at the desk doesn't control everything and isn't to blame for everything. Yet they yell. And they stomp. And they make big demands.
So I walked up after that and the agent looked up when I said to him, “I'm sorry.”
He was surprised. And I continued, “I'm sorry for the way passengers treat you. I'm sure I've been one of those guys before. And it's only when I'm not trying to connect to another flight and haven't missed a flight that I can have perspective. But no matter what, you shouldn't be treated that way. So, I'm sorry.”
He was surprised. For sure. And then he asked how he could help me. So I proceeded to ask how full the flight was and if there was going to be a passenger next to me, as I was a big guy.
He asked me to wait a second, and within a couple of minutes printed me out a new boarding pass for a seat in first class.
I won't forget that flight home. It was incredible. I was tired when I got on the plane but by the time I reached San Francisco (this was back when I lived in Northern California), I was rested and excited to see my family.
All because an agent had been really nice to me.
All because I'd been honest and nice with him.
The other day I wrote a post
I told people that if they were going to ask me for a recommendation, I needed to know more than just “what's the best one for me?”
And eventually I got a comment on there that was sort of a question.
But not really.
It was a slam on a lot of plugin developers and their plugins. Because one guy couldn't get one to work the way he wanted it to.
But it was a slam on my friends. People I know and have come to trust over years of working with them – and knowing their intentions are all awesome when it comes to making great products.
I left it alone for a day or two because I didn't want to react defensively.
But the commenter left another comment and then another. And he was getting more and more frustrated with how poor his interactions were going.
But in his anger, there were elements of poor communication. Like we all do when we're frustrated and tired.
Did people reply? Not much. Not really.
His comments didn't get him what he wanted.
And then he wrote me. Personally. And asked if I could remove his old comments and replace them with a different and much more respectful question.
And that's when I wrote him a long comment back, giving him a lot of ideas and options.
Because there's a right way to add a comment to a blog post.
It will get you a response. It will get you help.
And it starts with respect.