It’s amazing that what ought to be similar experiences vary based upon the motivation and engagement of people. I arrived at the Providence Airport today and a very pleasant TSA agent who was tending to the line (six people) greeted me nicely. After a 20-second wait, a woman at the desk told me that I qualified for Pre-Check, which I had no idea existed in Providence.
“It’s new here,” she said, “please go through the gate my colleague is opening.” All you do is empty your pockets, and a an agent there asked with military police precision, “Do you have a cell phone on your person.” I confirmed that my person did have one, and I removed it without incident. Thirty seconds later I was through security.
I ambled over to the Johnny Rockets because I occasionally have a fatal attraction for a burger. This took almost ten minutes, because the two women behind the grill spent almost all their time talking to each other, and the one at the register yacked to passersby. The former didn’t alert the latter that my burger was ready, and I had to ask for it. For that, I was drenched in attitude which I would have accepted from Peter Drucker, but not from a Johnny Rockets inept cashier. If I owned that franchise I would have fired the lot.
Ten yards away was a shoeshine stand, and I had my new, blue, Gucci crocodile loafers on. New shoes should always be polished as soon as possible. “Can you do blue?” I asked, and the attendant assured me he could. In what is usually an older man’s trade, he was in his late 20s, and didn’t ask me a single question, which left me blissfully happy. He put on two different types of polish, wax, a liquid to clean the metal buckles, and carefully did the heels. He was dedicated to his craft. When I gave him $10 for the $7 bill, he seemed genuinely grateful.
Finally, on to Delta, where the boarding process was just short of chaos. Apparently “first class” doesn’t register as being “first” in anything. I think I boarded just after “those people considering having children at any point in the future.” I love those who need “extra time in boarding,” who pick up their speed once down the jetway and literally run off the place at its destination. The gate agent loved the sound of his own voice, made 12 announcements, the last of which is, “We’re not serving beverages in first class on the ground. Thank you for choosing Delta.”
(I recall a Delta flight attendant at that same gate a year ago who came out, grabbed the mike, and did five minutes for the crowd, telling us what she expected of us and what we should expect. It was like a professional speaker who found herself suddenly serving food on a plane. I was waiting for the feedback forms.) The flight was on time, I’m now in Atlanta at a nice, though jammed, Delta air club where the hostess greeted me warmly and confirmed my next leg.
Here’s a free piece of advice: Hire people with enthusiasm and judgment and you’ll do just fine.
Oh, yeah: And once in a while, shop your own business!
© Alan Weiss 2013