Last week, I was out to dinner with a very good friend of mine. We were celebrating her birthday at one of our favorite restaurants, and after dinner, we decided to continue the evening at our favorite watering hole.
In what could have been a "Wanna get away?" moment for a very nice young man standing next to us, my friend found herself dampened by the drink he spilled in her direction. After we assured him that no permanent damage had been done, we made introductions, met some of his friends, and in the natural course of small talk, the question "So, where do you work?" came up.
Years ago, in my life before Southwest Airlines, I worked at "A Major Retailer." During my eight years there, I held Supervisory and Manager positions in fourteen different departments. (On more than one occasion working the phones as the Manager of Customer Serivce, it was suggested that I try to perform a physically impossible act.) When I was at any kind of social gathering - holiday party for my spouse, backyard barbeque with the neighbors, or some other place where one faces that eternal conversation starter (or ender), I would cringe at the question "So, where do you work?" because my reply would inevitably be followed by a story. Everyone seemed to have a story. A bad story. My outside hope would be for an inappropriate request for the use of my employee discount instead of the bad story - it would be so much easier then to smile and politely change the subject.
Anyway--here we were, blotting my friend's sleeve with the hope of drying it out a little quicker, and when asked about my employer, I didn't hesitate before replying that I worked for Southwest. And while the drink spiller confessed he flew another AAirline more often, our hearts immediately went to his friend who--instead of displaying some plutonium American Express card to impress us--pulled out his Rapid Rewards Visa Card and started in on how much he loves to fly Southwest! So, we spent a little time trading stories - good stories about his travels, runway configurations, and a presentation he had given in which Southwest was the topic. And I do believe his next drink was on us - courtesy of a Southwest Visa Card. Yes, Derrick, I am a SWA geek too - and proud of it.
I really hope you have great stories to tell about your job, and your employer - and if you don't always, I understand. Just watch the elbows of the people around you. And wear something that dries quickly, just in case.