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PAY IT FORWARD!

Employee
Employee
Well, that didn't take long, did it?  We're not even a full week into the new year, and I'm already at it again.  For years, I have been the mascot of the "if your head wasn't nailed to your neck you'd forget it" club.  I've forgotten items from coast to coast, border to border, and on at least three other continents.  Some I've gotten back (like my passport, which I dropped while being stupid in Hyde Park in London when I was a high school senior); some I haven't (like my camera, which I left in the seatback pocket of an aircraft of another airline--and which, unfortunately, was full of the undeveloped pictures I had taken of a friend's wedding). The good news (yes, there is some!) about being as forgetful as I can be is that I've had the chance to see, and to experience, generosity from complete strangers.  Unfortunately, I've also seen, and experienced, the "it sucks to be you!" attitude of many the customer-contact staff at other airlines, retail establishments, restaurants, and parks and recreation services when they encounter victims of self-inflicted forgetfulness.  Their indifference, and how it feels to receive it, has made me a firm believer in "paying it forward"--the practice of repaying a random act of kindness that I've received by showing another, equally hapless stranger the same dignity, compassion, and generosity that I've been shown many times. So this morning, in the typical mad rush of the second business day of a new year, I forgot my billfold, complete with cash and credit cards, on my nightstand at home.  Unfortunately, I didn't realize that until I had already gotten a rather generous serving of scrambled eggs and hash browns and had worked my way up to the cashier at The Landing, the cafeteria here at our Headquarters campus.  When I realized what I had done, of course, I froze in utter embarrassment, barely hearing the words "I think I forgot my billfold" come out of my mouth.  Without so much as a pause, the person in line behind me said "here!  Put his on my bill."  I turned around and saw another Southwest Employee, albeit one that I've never seen in the building before, standing with a big smile on her face--and a $20 bill in her hand.  "Just pay me when you have the chance," she said, as she printed her name and office extension on the receipt.  One more minor crisis averted, and another wonderful display of generosity (not to mention extreme and notable SOUTHWEST SPIRIT!)--and, for me, another affirmation that being a Servant Leader is simply another way to pay it forward.  Today, my Servant Leader and "breakfast savior" was MIT Administrative Specialist Tara (and yes, I have already paid her back!).   THANK YOU, Tara!  I'll be looking to return the favor by lending a hand just as soon as I see the need--if not to you, then to someone else up in The Landing, or at the airport, or at the supermarket, or wherever it's needed. Hopefully, that day, I'll have remembered my billfold.  Happy New Year, everyone!  
11 Comments
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Bill, What a great time for this post. For all us who are looking for something to make this year better than the last. What could be better than a new attitude towards our fellow man. To be reminded, that we can make a difference in the lives that we touch each day. So lets strive to do that for the strangers that we meet each day and for the people close to us, who we all to often take for granted.
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I don't know where else to turn, so I found the blog, Bill. When will Southwest finally be opening flight times for the upcoming summer months? My wife and I are part of a small circle of travel afficianados who rely upon Southwest for virtually all of our travel needs. Numerous other folks that I know have mentioned that we'd love to see the Southwest schedule open up. We even know three couples who decided to fly on AA for a trip in late June. While all of us love to see uplifting holiday tales such as this, we can't help but wonder why Southwest's schedule seems to be so behind the rest of the carriers.
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Kirk, I don't know why Southwest doesn't have an open calendar when booking a trip - but what I DO know is that each and EVERY time I've waited, it has been worth the wait to book the flight! Not only have I found the fares to be lower, I always arrive on time and never have that horrible feeling of being "stuck" somewhere or missing a connection. Good things come to those who wait! Mary, I agree, what a way to make an impact upon our lives in the New Year. Everyday I turn on the news and read the paper and I am met with such tales of hate. From the news report from New Orleans having 14 murders in just six days, to the tale of the 3 year old boy wandering on the Interstate in Indianapolis it sickens me to know human kind can devalue LIFE! Yet, when you are able to read stories of generosity and kindness it warms the heart and it is contagious! Giving is something each and every one of us can do! Sometimes I think we are often met with many requests for donations we simply open the wallet and fork the cash over without really understanding who, what and how we are making an impact. While we often think of "paying it forward" through instances like Bill's (being short on cash) - we can often "pay it forward" through our time and service to a person as well. Maybe you have a co-worker struggling through a difficult time - make a meal and deliver it. Perhaps your neighbor is trying to help out at her child's school but has a baby at home and has to find a sitter - volunteer time to watch the child! From yard work, housework and basic living - everyone can always use a hand...pay it forward in everyday and life and instead of hate, we can build community. Bill, for the record, I can publicly thank the woman at the Toledo zoo who came with extra tickets to the very special "Lights Before Christmas" event and saw me counting my bills (the admission was more than I anticipated) - she gave my children tickets to get in which only left my admission. It was difficult to accept - but I welcomed and thanked her. Her reply "Pay it Forward" I'm planning on it. Happy New Year! Jenny Frasco
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Bill, I'm not trying to beat a dead horse, but the scheduling lag is become a bit of a stressor. My wife and I are flying to Phoenix on May 4th, doing a small road trip, then flying to Kansas City on May 11th and home to Washington, DC on May 13th. We booked the first flight with Southwest over a month ago, thinking we'd book the remaining flights soon after. We've seen other flights increase in price, to the point where I wish I had booked elsewhere a month ago. I check the sight every day, but the schedule still ends at May 10th. When can I finally book for May 11th? I'm trying to be patient, but when you go the best steak house, and have to wait two hours for your steak, the wonderful steak has a little bit of bitterness, that leaves you a bit unsatisfied. Even if it's a good bargain, nothing compensates for bad service, and we're approaching that point.
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Bill: Hey guy! I have a great pay it forward story. As you know, I live in New Orleans and am living in Katrina's aftermath and all that it implies. I was standing in line at one of the food places on Concourse B to buy my daily ice tea early one morning. A couple were in front of me talking about what to order. I suggested they get the omelet poboy. We struck up a conversation and I found out that they had been in town gutting houses. I told them that my sister and my husband's sister, husband and daughter had come down a couple of months after Katrina and had gutted houses for a week. I also thanked them for coming down and helping out. When it came time for me to order my drink, the guy behind me said..."let me pay for that". I can only guess that he was a "local" too, had listened in on the converstation between me and the visitors, and wanted to do a little something to thank me for "thanking" them. Anyway, it put a smile on my face for the rest of the day...something that we really need down here. And just a side note to all you bloggers...New Orleans is open for business. Please, please, please, come visit us. You'll love it! Nona
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Hi Bill, Your post is proof that a good deed brings its own reward, and I have my own story. A few years ago, I assisted an individual with changing some travel plans, and I provided the same assistance for him that any of my Executive Office or Customer Relations Coworkers would have done for any Customer. Imagine my surprise when, completely out of the blue, I received a letter a few months later telling me that this individual anonymously had established a college scholarship in my name for Southwest Employees and their families. (The first recipient, the spouse of an Employee, has graduated and the second, a daughter of another Employee is currently in school.) I was absolutely blown away by this incredible generosity for what I had considered to be a normal part of my job. You can't be "nice" just to be recognized by others. The real point is that spreading good karma will enrich others in a way you can never imagine and probably will never know about. Blog Boy
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I wish they would show more flight information at least thru the summer months. The time frame stops at May. I am wanting to plan a trip in July and I am unable to do so. It would help if at least they went late in the summer. I have to plan ahead so much my work and cannot do this. The rates are great and I do like flying Southwest, so I hope that the time frame can be extended soon. Thank You Barbara Walsh
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Bill, What is going on with the schedule extension (or lack of one). I read somewhere you were holding it until Feb 8. So Feb 8 to simply book May 11? Bill, that is a crock. I need to make some plans and get it done. Your asking that we sacrifice and gamble on the Southwest schedule - and potentially pass up other airlines - and there are no guarantees with airlines. Fares rise without notice, flights change without notice and so forth. So the question really is - is Southwest still committed to customer service? Or has that attitude fallen out among the airline senior staff? I admit, I am really dismayed, and frankly, just plain pissed off about the schedule ending May 10. Thats not even four months away and will basically be three months away by the time Southwest gets around to it on Feb 8. What is going on? Are the good days of good service over with?
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Another potential customer unable to book on SW because the darn schedule doesn't go beyond May. Is this any way to run an airline?
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I agree 100%, been waiting for way too long for you to extend the schedule beyond 5/10. Unofrtunately, I'm taking my business elsewhere.
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On January 18th, I left my jacket in a restaurant at Love Field in Dallas. My flight had already taken off before I realized what had happened. I asked the flight attendant, Desi Pearce ( please forgive any misspelling), if there was anything that could be done. She called back and had somebody find the jacket and put it on the next flight to St. Louis. I would like to time to thank Desi and any unnamed individuals that were involved in rescuing my jacket and taking care of me in my absentminded moment. Not only did she save my jacket, but she called me at home on Superbowl Sunday to make sure I had received it, which added a bright spot to a rather dismal day (I'm a Bears fan!!). This kind of extra effort and caring by Desi Pierce,and all the others involved in returning my jacket, helps to make Southwest the great airline that it is. Many thanks to all involved, Brad Derham