This Memorial Day, I hope everyone will remember those who have served or are serving in our Military. Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Veterans’ Day all bring about memories of my Father, Glenn B. Self. My Dad served his country during World War II. He was captured and spent three years of the war in a prison camp. My Dad and the other prisoners in his camp built a bridge and railroad. You may recall it from the movie, “The Bridge over the River Kwai.” He never discussed his capture much, especially when I was younger. One of the rare occasions that I recall is that my Dad wore a protective band around his lower leg when he wore shorts or went swimming. As kids we used to ask him what happened and he would tell us that was where an alligator bit him. Later on in life, I learned that while he was in the prison camp he had developed a tropical ulcer. These ulcers were common due to the malnutrition and lack of hygiene. However, they could become infected and usually it resulted in amputation of the limb. Since surgery was something not readily available, the guards wanted to amputate his leg. My dad begged a Dutch Doctor, who was also a POW, to operate on him. The doctor refused to operate telling my father that the pain would likely kill him since he was unable to obtain anesthesia to put him out. My Dad was extremely persistent and finally the doctor gave in, six men held my father down while the ulcer was extracted from his leg. I once asked him why he didn’t just tell everyone what really happened and he said the alligator story was more exciting to tell.
The other day, I asked my sister, what she would like for people to remember about Dad and she said, “That he did what he did for his country”. “He knew what it was like to lose your freedom, for he lost his for three years of his own life as a POW. He knew what it was like to be malnourished and that you might die” “He was subjected to what it was like for a country to have complete control over what you eat, wear, and say.” However, when he came back from the war he didn’t have hatred in him but lived life and enjoyed every day of it. He did not complain about what he couldn’t change but he changed what he could. He believed in the democracy of our Government. Once a person was elected into a position regardless if my Dad voted for him or not, he respected that person’s decisions.
When the war was over and my Father had been released from the prison camp he began his journey home to Lubbock. A group of women awaiting the return of their loved ones from the war were at the bus station where my Dad and his friends were stopping before traveling on to Lubbock. The women met the wrong bus at the bus station and welcomed home my Dad and his buddies. From that day forward, every year the men would get together and have a reunion to celebrate their return from the war. My father and mother would always make me go with them to the reunions and it became a big thing for me. I saw men who were not related but acted as brothers, who did not talk about the war but sang songs and spoke of their families. When I asked my Dad how long he had been friends with some of these men he would say since the war. Later I learned that having a buddy helped them to survive in the prison camp. Your buddy took care of you, fed you, and when you were sick helped you get well. If your buddy died, you needed to find a new buddy pretty quick (at least that is the story I was told).
Several years after I graduated from high school, I learned a lot about the men who I had grown up knowing as my dad’s brothers. I read a book written by one of my dad’s friends from the prison camp. The name of the book is “Last Man Out.” The book doesn’t talk about torture or devastation however; it talks about a Dutch Doctor who saved the lives of many men in that camp. He taught them what to eat, how to maintain good hygiene, and to recoup after the day so they would be ready to work the next. I learned about devotion, discipline, and love. I was never taught that war was ugly or bad, but that it was sad, yet sometimes necessary to protect those you love. My Father passed away on December 7, 2001, the sixty year anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He had a military funeral with the honor guards. However, due to the happenings on September 11, 2001, he did not receive a 21 gun salute. He would not have been upset that he did not receive a 21 gun salute at his burial. What he probably was proud of is that those who were still alive from the prison camp were there to say farewell. He would want them to remember those who had gone before him and those who perished in the prison camp that their memories would remain in the hearts of all Americans. My Dad So this Memorial Day, I would like to thank My Dad for giving me the greatest gift anyone could ever receive: Freedom. The Freedom to vote, voice my opinion, work, worship, live anywhere, have a family, and defend myself. Thank you to the Servicemen and women all over the world for taking care of us all and defending our Freedom.
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What does Charleston have besides great food, shopping, beaches, and Southern hospitality? They now have Southwest Airlines! It is always a pleasure to be part of a Team that gets to go out and prepare a Station for its opening day. However, I would like to show you why we think you will enjoy flying on Southwest this summer to Charleston, SC.. This city is fabulous! Upon your arrival in Charleston, if you were to have a baggage mishandling, well we have just the folks there to help you out. Aren’t they a nice looking bunch of friendly Southwest Employees? You wouldn’t expect anything else. Once we were outside the airport, we found the weather to be usually sunny and warm for March (although we had a couple of days that were cool and windy). Like any Texan, I love Mexican food, so we found a place to eat called “La Hacienda” near the Tanger Outlet Mall. The food was not your usual Tex Mex but it was delicious. You must try the poblano peppers and tostadas, and of course a sumptuous cold and delicious margarita. The prices were very reasonable. Another place close to the outlet malls was called “Fatz” (it was like Chilis or TGI Fridays). The bread there sort of melted in your mouth (or maybe the bread was hot and the butter melted). At any rate, you’ve got to try it out. The outlet malls are great for shopping, with stores like Coach, Timberland, Guess, and Nike. We visited Market Street downtown and ate at Hyman’s Seafood and Mercado’s (Italian fare). Hyman’s and Mercado’s prices run a little on the expensive side, but the line's routinely out the door! You must visit the Charleston Candy Kitchen that is located downtown. I brought my husband, Tim, some pralines back and I think he is ready to send me back for more. Although we did not get to do any sightseeing, I noticed several areas that provide horse-drawn carriage rides. The prices were $21.00 per person. There is a lot of old world charm in Charleston, beginning with the plantation tours and on down to the ghost tours. There is a lot to do in Charleston, and I hope to get to return on Southwest Airlines and enjoy the sights. The Carnival cruise ship named "Fantasy" departs from Charleston, offering four to six day cruises. The Carnival Fantasy goes to the Bahamas from Charleston and the rates range from $300 to $700. Experience the beaches at the Wild Dunes, located about 30 minutes from the airport. I hear that the sunsets and sunrises are breathtaking. Hopefully you will get to see for yourself. We stayed at the Sheraton in Charleston. Everyone at this hotel was exceptionally gracious and friendly. I truly recommend this hotel. I'm no concierge, but if I was to rate it, I’d give it 4 stars. We all had a fun time sharing our time in Charleston and hope to return real soon. We love to arrive in a city Southwest style and what better way to begin than with a party. Everybody dance now! Southwest Airlines would like to welcome each and every Southwest Customer to Charleston!
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What sets us apart from everyone else? It's our legendary Customer Service, and we are proud to call it our own invention. Gary Kelly: Through the years, Southwest Airlines has evolved as our industry and the needs of the traveling public have changed. One constant has been Your commitment to delivering outstanding Customer Service. While other airlines have tried to match our fares and route maps, what they cannot duplicate is the personal service you provide each and every day. As we celebrate our 40 th anniversary, I honor you and your commitment to winning Customers with your exemplary Customer Service.
Customer Service was the key topic of discussion at the recent Customer Service Kickoff summit. Customer Service Contact Employees from all around the system were there to hear several of our Leaders guide us into 2011. Colleen Barrett, our President Emeritus, was one of the first to speak and as I listened to the most inspiring person in my history with Southwest, a lot of her message was just so simple, down to earth, and plain ole Southwest Hospitality. "Let’s go back," she said, "to when you began with Southwest Airlines. What was your first day like?" Well mine was 28 years ago, and I remember being so excited to wear a uniform instead of having to buy clothes (even if it was hot pants), having a good salary, being able to offer flying free to my family and myself, and health benefits. Once I arrived at work though, I had an eye-opening experience. Customer Service Agents (Ticket Agents back in 82) were not just selling tickets, making reservations, and checking flights. They were pushing Customers to the gates in wheelchairs, talking to Customers as though they were longtime friends, and helping run with bags to the gates for Mothers with babies, bags, strollers, and car seats. My most important training of that day was how to administer Customer Service. This wasn’t traditional Customer Service; it was extraordinary Customer Service. With this in mind, I listened as Colleen guided this group through revitalizing Customer Service. She informed us that Southwest hired FUN, Dedicated, and Spirited Employees. This is so true, and our Southwest Hospitality has grown into other cities across the country. It is not unusual to have someone in Albany say, “Thanks for flying Southwest.” It is not unusual to see people in Baggage Service Offices singing about your lost bag, to bring a smile to a bad situation. It is not unusual to see a Chicago Ramp Agent carry a Customer’s bag to their car when it is a blizzard outside.
The message from Colleen that I heard that day is that Customer Service is not just for External Customers but also for our Internal Customers; there is not a difference between internal and external expectations. We need to learn to use common sense and good judgment when we make decisions. There can’t be a rule for every situation, and sometimes fair does not mean equal. It means you need to Do the Right Thing. Lead by example, this is not just for Leaders but for us all to make sure that what you do is what you would want others to repeat. When you make a commitment to a Customer, keep that promise. In fact, underpromise and overdeliver; that means if you tell the Customer that you will contact him or her in two weeks, then do one better, and contact them in one week. Keeping our Customers informed with a phone call doesn’t cost that much. Be careful of your body language and facial expressions as these can be read by our Customers and make a statement without a word being spoken. Okay, we all do these things; yes that is true. We have not lost providing good Customer Service; however, we must nurture and keep it watered to ensure it grows. It is our legacy, and it is what sets us apart from the other airlines, as we have to keep them guessing what makes us so good. They can compete with our fares and routes, but they can’t do what we do on a daily basis, provide great Customer Service. Everyday, we hear stories about our Employees going above and beyond for our Customers. We are a compassionate and heartfelt Company. That quality has been passed down from Colleen and embraced by us all. We don’t just come to work and punch a time clock, and return home after it is over. We build houses for Habitat for Humanity. We cook breakfast and dinners for the Ronald McDonald House. We give praise to those who work beside us every day. We are about just being human and helping each other as humans. The little things are important as Linda Rutherford, VP of Communication and Strategic Outreach stated, and we bring life and fun back into the work force. The message and the challenge at the Customer Service Kickoff that rang out was for each of us to embrace, recognize, and live Customer Service.
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One thing that is interesting about my job is that you will have the opportunity to ask yourself, “How in the world could someone lose their false teeth?” Working in Central Baggage Services you see a lot of things left behind at gates, ticket counters, and on the planes by Customers. Between all of us in Central Baggage Services, there are plenty of stories. The one story that fascinates me most is the time a Customer lost the engagement ring for his fiancé’ onboard a Southwest Flight. We’ll call this gentleman “Prince Charming.” Mr. Charming was flying on a Southwest Flight to meet his fiancé, Cinderella, and propose to her. He was so excited that he showed the ring to other Passengers on his flight. Prince Charming thought he had returned the ring to his pocket after showing it to the handsome frog sitting next to him on the plane. Unfortunately, the ring did not go into his pocket but fell on the cabin floor of the aircraft. Can you imagine the sick feeling he had when he reached in his pocket to discover that the ring was not there? His proposal would have to wait. What if she kissed someone else? He contacted the Baggage Service Office about his loss and what flight he was on. The courteous and most apologetic of all Baggage Service Agents took a lost and found report for the Customer but knew that finding a diamond ring was like finding a needle in a hay stack. However, the Good Samaritan Flight Attendant or Impressive Jester Ramp Agent found the engagement ring and turned it into the Baggage Service Office. The ring was not claimed immediately but was flown ever so carefully to the Central Baggage Service Warehouse. Central Baggage Services Investigator Mikey opened a FedEx box from one of the Stations and was amazed to see such a beautiful ring. He immediately knew he must find the owner, so he began his search through reports for such key words as ring, diamond, gold, etc. Low and behold, he found a report that described his ring completely. He contacted Prince Charming and returned the ring. Our Hero. Prince Charming was very pleased with Southwest’s wonderful Central Baggage Service Office that he lived happily ever after. There ain’t no service like Southwest Service, cuz Southwest Service don’t stop!
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