An A+ For Austin by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche. 2023.
Author: A Little Faith Lift…Finding Joy Beyond Rejection
AWSA (Advanced Writers & Speakers Assoc.)

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

The following is the email answer I sent to United Airlines, following its generic “thank you” response to the kind comment I wrote about Austin, an employee at Tulsa, Oklahoma’s airport.

“I’m not sure anyone will read this, but this ‘compliment’ almost did not happen because your website made it impossible to write because, as I later found out when I spoke to one of your customer service agents, (a) I tried to write it ‘before my final flight leg was over,’ and (b) I tried to write it ‘after my final flight leg was over.’ Not sure what other options there were. “Two phone calls and numerous attempts to navigate your website left me more than frustrated. Maybe you need to hire someone like me to find a better way to do this simple task. As I said when I spoke (finally) to your supervisor, I’m surprised any of your employees ever are complimented. The process is far too tedious.”

Is it Christian to write such a response? My family says that I am “review-happy.” I tell them that it works both ways.

My favorite evaluation is an A+ one. I will go to great lengths (like I did for Austin) to commend an employee for going above-and-beyond the required service recommended. I probably write five positive letters for every negative one. However, I believe that there are times employers need to know when their customers are receiving less-than-desirable service.

If I have a problem, I will contact the company directly as opposed to writing a bad review. (My son in the restaurant business tells me that he prefers emails/texts directly to him as opposed to reading a bad review on line.)

I’m never trying to get anyone fired; I’m always trying to help the company improve, a behavior my husband finds unnecessary and embarrassing.

As for Austin, he had the best attitude when my flight from Tulsa to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, was cancelled. I guess he saw an old, clueless woman who needed help. I didn’t say otherwise.

Not only did he book me a nearby hotel, he gave me meal vouchers for three meals and told me how to speed-dial the hotel to pick me up after I retrieved my luggage. Austin even offered to walk me to baggage claim, but I figured that would royally tick off the customers in line behind me, so I assured him that I could follow the “Baggage Claim” signs with no problem. I’m not that old. Plus, Tulsa is not that large of an airport.

Nevertheless, I thought that Austin deserved a commendation from the airlines. It’s the way I’m wired. Years ago, I took a “Spiritual Gifts” test to see how God had equipped me to bless other people. My gift was Encouragement. I love that gift, but I know that sometimes I am too self-absorbed to share it like I’m supposed to, and I’m usually not as persistent as I was with United.

The opportunities to use it are endless. Who doesn’t like to be complimented? This past week, I received a hand-written note from a wonderful Christian woman who thanked me for helping her clean up after a group meeting. I still smile when I think of that note, but it also was a reminder of how I need to do that more often to other people.

I started yesterday in Walmart when I passed a young woman with green and red hair. “You look like a really fun person,” I told her. She grinned from ear to ear before thanking me. Definitely easier than contacting the airline. I think it’s a gift I will encourage myself to practice.

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