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saying Thank you

Recognition: The Friendly Skies

I am beginning a new series today entitled “Recognition.”  When bad things happen and I am wronged in some way, I am very quick to take to social media or an email to customer service to complain.  While there are legitimate times to voice a complaint, it is usually not in the heat of the moment.  To help combat my “quick to gripe” attitude, I am on the lookout for amazing service and plan to write about each occurrence here.  Not only will this help me focus on the positive, but maybe, some folks will get the recognition they so truly deserve.

We begin last Friday night.  After a week-long business trip to California, it was time to head home.  We had a later flight out of John Wayne Airport and so we didn’t land until after 10PM.  As is our custom, my wife and I remained in our seats while almost every passenger deplaned.  My wheelchair weighs 350 pounds and is very difficult to maneuver without me at the helm, and so we are used to the process taking extra time.  Once the plane had unloaded, though, we walked to the jet bridge and found…nothing.  My wheelchair wasn’t there.  No crew members were there.  No one from the airport was there.

Now, to their credit (and before you think this is a gripe), it was very late, and the one service person at our gate was helping an elderly woman who needed an aisle chair.  It felt good to stand up after a three hour flight, so we didn’t mind.  However, the minutes ticked by and still no wheelchair or personnel.  Finally, one of the flight attendants came out to see why we were still waiting.  She went to the top of the jet bridge to check and when she came back down, she told us that my wheelchair was waiting at the top of the jet bridge.

Great, except one problem.  I can’t walk that far and no one was there to push me in a manual wheelchair.  Joni was with me, but she was carrying three bags, and it was quite a steep hill.  So, the flight attendant called for another service helper to come to our gate.  She also notified the pilot.  After another five minutes, no one had showed up.  To our surprise, the captain of our flight (Capt. John) came out and told us that we had waited long enough and that he would push me up the jet bridge.  Not only is such a task not a part of Capt. John’s job description, but many people in positions of command would see the job of pushing someone in a wheelchair as beneath them.  Not Capt. John, though.  He pushed my wheelchair up, waited until I got in my powered wheelchair and then he went back down to finish his piloting duties.

After Joni and I got situated, we parted ways.  She headed to the baggage claim and I ventured off to the Sky Link to head to the terminal where we had parked before our departing flight that past Monday.  As I got on the Sky Link, Capt. John happened to board with me.  We made small talk and he asked where I was headed.  After I told him, he questioned as to whether my path would be impeded from the Sky Link to my van.  He was asking if he needed to come with me to my van.  Yet again, I was blown away.  He had been working all day and yet was willing to follow me to my van to make sure I could get there.

He didn’t have to…it wasn’t a part of his job…but he did it anyway…and for that,  I give Recognition to Capt. John of American Airlines flight 2389 (on Nov. 20).

Tweet to American Airlines about Capt. John

What Do You Say?

From a young age, we teach children to say “thank you.”  In fact, the teaching is so prevalent that often times in public, you hear the phrase commonly spoken from parent to child, “What do you say?”  Usually, a meek or quick “thank you” is uttered and the parent is satisfied.  The practice is to be lauded as our children need to learn to be thankful.  Thankfulness is a very important lesson as gratitude is crucial to a happy life.

So, if gratitude is so important that we spend time teaching it to toddlers, why is it difficult for so many adults to accept a compliment?  I’ve heard and seen so many scenarios when something nice is said to someone else, and the receiver of the compliment immediately disclaims the remark.  Maybe the compliment receiver utters, “Oh, you don’t really mean that…” or maybe they simply give an eye-roll to make sure that the compliment giver knows that they don’t believe in the compliment.


Are we embarrassed when something good is said about us?  Are we trying to show humility?  Maybe those who disclaim compliments are trying to communicate that they don’t believe the compliment could be true.  Is our collective self-esteem so poor that we don’t even like compliments?

I believe that accepting compliments is a crucial step towards believing in yourself.  Many times after a speaking engagement, I’ll hear things like, “You changed my life” or “You are amazing, and I loved your talk.”  One woman came out of a recent talk that my dad and I gave and said she had acknowledged that she had a bad attitude. She had decided to give her failing marriage another chance because of our presentation.  WOW!  Am I that good?  Is our message that powerful?  I can’t answer those questions. 

I can say that God uses us to spread the Good News to everyone who will hear, and He gets all the glory.  I can’t disclaim a compliment with an eye-roll because I know that if I do, what I am really saying is that I’m not good enough for God to make use of.  I can’t and won’t believe that.  As one person put it, “God don’t make no junk!”

So, when I am complimented, like the young child, I say “thank you” or if appropriate, “praise God.”  I dare you to try it.  If you are accustomed to shying away from compliments, try responding “thank you.”  Not only will you feel better, the compliment giver will also feel better as he/she will be validated, too.

And, remember, as children, most of us were taught to say “thank you.”  If a child can do it, so can you!