Don’t Let Anyone Put You On Standby

While standing in the United Airlines customer service line at Ohare airport in Chicago, I struck up a conversation with Stacy, a nurse who lives in Montreal Canada. Stacy was booked for Springfield to see her family for the holidays.

Come to find out Stacy and I worked together fifteen years ago at Kraft Foods.
Our 10:00 a.m. flight to Springfield had been canceled. After Stacy got her new flight tickets she said, “I got the next flight on American leaving in 30 minutes. We can run together.”

Imagine my surprise when my customer service rep said, “I’ll put you on a 3:00 p.m. stand by and hope you get a seat.”

“Wait a minute,” I said. “My friend just got on a flight leaving in 30 minutes. Can’t you help me get on the same plane?” Stacy’s customer service rep chimed in trying to help me get what I wanted, but the rep serving me had other ideas.

“No. There’s no way you’ll make it,” she argued, while scribbling something on my canceled ticket. I couldn’t believe she wasn’t willing to help me.

I motioned Stacy to go on without me.

Stunned, I waked away realizing that I had just been told to wait five hours for a “Maybe.” I had just let someone else tell me what was possible and I rolled over like a dead dog! I didn’t argue. I simply walked away.

After reality sunk in, I ran back to the line, bypassed my old customer service rep and went to Stacy’s customer service rep and asked her if she could change my ticket so that I too could leave in…well, now it was about 20 minutes.

(My new helpful rep was waiting on a woman trying to purchase a dog Sherpa and they were debating over the price.

“Is it $60 or is it $75?”
“Let me make a call.”
“Hold please. I think it’s $75.”
“I’m pretty sure they told me it’s $60.”

I’ll pay the extra fifteen just to get on the other plane, I was thinking while trying not to seem impatient. 😉

After determining to put the dog Sherpa question on hold for a moment, my rep said, “It’s really too late now. Then a pause. “Unless….the captain or crew has not yet boarded. Let me make a call.”

Come to find out, the crew had not boarded.

The rep winked at me while telling the person on the other end of the phone line,
“Oh I think she can make it. She’s very able bodied…I’d say about 22 years old.”
Yep, my patience paid off. Thank goodness I didn’t sigh or roll my eyes. Never be rude to someone who can help you get what you want. Glad I learned that lesson years ago.

As the rep laughed and handed me my new ticked with American, she said, “You will have to run without stopping. Good luck.”

I boarded the plane in plenty of time. In fact, we still waited another 30 minutes due to ramp problems. Had I not spoken up I would possibly be standing in line at 3:00 pm with another promise of standing by.

Life Coaching Questions:
How often do we let other people put us on stand by instead of taking care of business? Or how often do we put up a power struggle with someone not willing to help us instead of being quietly effective to get the job done?

Life always offers the appropriate lesson at the appropriate time:

  • Don’t let anyone else determine what plane you get on.
  • Don’t let someone else tell you what is possible or impossible for you.
  • Avoid power struggles. If you aren’t getting the answer you want, ask someone who is willing to do things your way.
  • Go for it. You can always choose stand by as plan B.
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