It seems like every time I travel I come home and have some story about crazy passengers, annoying TSA agents, and just the overall experience of flying the [un]friendly skies. Yes, I am picky, but I also think we’ve lost the service out of customer service… which means the customer is left hanging. As companies fight for market share what many are finding is that service is actually what sets many companies apart. Think Zappos or Nordstroms.
I just came across this story back from May 2015 where Southwest Airlines elevated their service game. After reviewing a few articles about her story, here is a recap of what happened:
A woman is on a Southwest plane flying from Chicago to Columbus finds out her son is in a coma after an accident. The plane turns back to the gate and the flight attendant asks her to get off. At the gate they told her to call her husband. She finds out that her son, who lives in Denver, is in a coma after a head injury. This is what Southwest does:
_Offered her a private waiting area
_Rerouted her luggage
_Allowed her to board first
_Packed a lunch for when she got off the plane in Denver
_Her luggage was delivered to where she was staying in Denver
_She received a call from Southwest asking how her son was doing
Amazing right? Yet, should it be? I wish we did not think that was stellar service. I want that to be the normal type of service that we can expect. How often does this type of tragic thing happen to folks? Often. People travel to sick, hurt, and dying loved ones, but so often we do not know their story. The morale is — how can we raise the bar and make what Southwest did for this woman the norm?
I miss Shanghai. There are definitely parts of it I would never miss, but of the cities I have been to in the past few years, there was something very endearing about it. Last night Chris flew back from Memphis, Tennessee and due to his late night return I decided to be the horrible wife and not make the drive out to the airport to pick him up. While I am always exuberant to see him after he is gone (regardless of how long he is away), I am exhausted that late at night, and it is best to keep me in my pajamas on the couch then driving in the rain. So — he took a cab. Which reminded me of taxi’s in Shanghai.
There is one thing that is the complete opposite in Shanghai than Portland (and many cities in the United States). Pedestrians do not come first. Cars do, and taxis can be aggressive. If you are on foot, beware. Even if you have the right of way at a cross walk, do not trust that it is truly your turn. It was something that I had to constantly remember, as it is so different from the United States. Taxi’s can range from chill and quiet, to loud and maniac drivers. I guess the same could be said for cabbies in New York City. In Shanghai they honk all the time and especially if a pedestrian or cyclist is in their way, and often yell at everyone and everything in their vicinity. (Not that I could understand what they are saying, but you can tell by the tone). The exact moment the stoplight changes from red to green the horn is blaring, not giving anyone a second to be distracted.
While I never saw a single accident, there were quite a few times when I saw near misses. Somehow though they glide through the streets and dodge people and cyclists left and right without any harm done. They have a poise and agility about them. In some ways they make cabbies in New York City look like they are little league in comparison. There must be some unwritten rules for how people drive because somehow (and I could never explain it) it all works out.
Since some foreigners cannot rent cars while visiting China (probably a good thing) they are reliant on public transportation, car services, or taxis to be transported to each destination. Or, as we often did, walk. I cannot imagine if you added drivers from the rest of the world into the mix. What chaos that would be. Now, what it does make me ponder is why the United States lets almost anyone with a driver’s license in the rest of the world rent a car and navigate our roads. Does that make sense? It makes you think. I will say one more thing:
On Saturday, Chris and I were in Portland driving down a fairly busy street. We had the right of way, and were cruising along, when a car that was at a cross street decided they were going to try to cross the street and gunned it. I am fairly sure that the woman driving did not see us. Chris slammed on the brakes, and laid on the horn and they came inches from hitting us.
We drove on. I turned back to look at the car that almost hit us. Partly because I was pissed beyond belief, and partly because I wanted to make eye contact with the driver. At that moment, all I could think about was the fact that they would have slammed into us right at the driver side door. Right into Chris. So I had reason to be livid. When I looked back, the woman driving the car was LAUGHING. I wanted to have Chris cross over three lanes, turn right immediately, and find them. (That would be my father’s anger coming out of me). I wanted them to know that my heart was jumping out of my body, that everything in our backseat was on the floor or under our front seats due to how hard Chris had to brake.
Turning and looking at the driver all happened in a matter of five seconds. Yet, for the rest of the day, the woman laughing is what kept coming back into my thoughts. Why would she have been laughing? Was she nervous that she almost crashed into us? Was she too into her conversation that she did not even care that she almost caused an accident? Was she mocking me looking back at her with a scowl on my face?
Chris is precious cargo to me. Food for thought. Watch the road when driving. We all have precious cargo inside.