Little Things Matter

Let me set the scene – I’m flying to Cleveland on a late flight (which was delayed), and I landed at Hopkins Airport at 12:30 AM. I had to be on-site with a client at 8:00 AM the next morning, and I still had to pick up my rental car, drive to Canton (an hour’s drive) and get a hotel for the night. I was exhausted and anxious to keep things moving.

At approximately 12:50 AM, I realized that my bag is not on the conveyor and has somehow not made it on the flight from Charlotte. This required that I file a claim with the baggage department. Several other peoples’ bags also did not make it, and I’m the fourth person in line with two people processing the claims.

The first person in line has ten – yes, ten – bags missing for their family, and the different family members are not all in the baggage claim area. As a result, there are long delays in the processing of the various baggage claims. As you can guess, this is frustrating as I feel every minute of minimal sleep slipping away from me. However, I still understood that these things happen and I knew I just had to wait my turn. Thus, I was still relatively patient and calm.

That changed however when the one family member had to go get another family member to process their baggage claim (this was the one with ten bags). She told the airline team member that she had to “go find her family member,” and as she walked away, the airline team member said, “Don’t worry. Take your time.” Certainly, this was intended to encourage this person and to let them know that everything was fine. However, the unintended impact on me was that I didn’t want to hear the airline team member tell someone (now at 1:10 AM) to take their time.

I eventually got my lost bag claim processed and left the airport at nearly 1:25 AM. By that time, the rental car desk had closed and I had to rent an extra car from another company (yes, I ended up with two cars rented for the same day) because of the baggage issues. I’m not saying that what the airline team member said (“Take your time”) was particularly wrong, but it certainly was not what I or the other person waiting in line wanted to hear. I do think that they could have been more thoughtful (or differently trained) to encourage people in line to have everything and everyone in place before they step up to the line.

My big takeaway is how often the smallest thing (what we say or don’t say, what we do or don’t do) can have a significant impact on others. There’s no perfect answer, but I do think that we all have an opportunity to be more intentional, thoughtful and impact aware in everything we do. Why? Because little things matter!

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