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A big smile and professional courteous attitude can go a long way

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Rose Rich
  • 451 ECS superintendent
As I am nearing the halfway point of this deployment, it seems not too long ago I was returning from my last one stranded in Detroit Michigan after 40 hours in airplanes and airports from East Africa trying to get back to Offutt AFB Nebraska. Cranky and tired I let this lady push her way in front of me only to watch in horror as she was totally rude and obnoxious to the airline employee because our flight had been canceled. After she completed her 5 minute obscene rant and stormed off it was my turn with the ticket agent, so I stepped up to the counter with a smile on my face and thanked the employee for everything she does. Then, I politely asked her for any assistance she could provide to find me a way back to Omaha. I noticed a smile quickly return to her face and she asked if I was military and returning from overseas. I responded yes and told her I had just finished a 6 month deployment through the holidays and just wanted to get home before midnight on 29 Dec before I also missed my wedding anniversary. She says, "If you don't mind I have to send you East to get west on two airplanes but I should have you back in Omaha early enough for your husband to take you out for a nice dinner on your anniversary." I thanked her again and she responded, "No Thank You, for serving our country and being so patient and understanding, even though you must be exhausted from traveling for almost 2 days."

As I walked off to catch my next plane, I noticed the couple in line behind me step up to that same agent with great big smiles on their faces and politely ask for her assistance as well. About 10 minutes later I saw the same couple at the gate with me and learned they had gotten the last two seats back to Omaha that day. The couple asked me how long I had been traveling I told them almost 40 hours and the gentleman said to me, "I was pretty darn angry and was about to give the ticket agent a piece of my mind until I saw how professional and courteous you were even after hearing what you had been through and quickly changed my attitude."

That couple finally realized what I had known all along, it wasn't the ticket agent's fault our flight had been canceled and the right attitude when dealing with people can really make a difference. The right attitude is everything as I watch my cyber warriors every day here in the 451 ECS pull off many herculean feats with smiles on their faces taking caring of fellow deployed members that sometimes only seem to care about their telephones, radios, computers, and morale net when they aren't working. People tend to forget that 99% of the time they work just fine and only rant and complain when things don't. They remember the late aircraft sortie because the maintainers couldn't get the jet fixed in time or the passengers or cargo was late. But what about the 1,000 other times the maintainers did fix that jet and the passengers and cargo were loaded early? When was the last time you actually walked into your local finance office or your personnel flight and thanked them for your pay being deposited on time and your records being correct?

How would you like to be the lone HVAC guy doing his best to keep your air conditioning going in this 100 plus degrees Afghanistan summer heat? When you see him walking around Kandahar Airfield do you actually think about just saying hello and thanking him for all he does? Probably not. But when your AC isn't working he sure becomes important to you.
So before you start a tirade about your pay being wrong, your AC not working, or your morale net being down, think about how much better response you might get if you tried it with a smile on your face and a professional courteous attitude. That positive courteous attitude to the person standing behind the counter doing their best to help you might mean the difference between you being stranded in an airport or being one of the last folks to get plane tickets home to your family.