Articles & Workplace Fables

The Worn-out Executive’s Missing Passport
The Worn-out Executive was returning home from an exhausting trip to the Far East where he had been to sell the merits of his Business School.

When all was said and done he knew he shouldn’t have put his passport in the seat pocket of the chair in front of him, he’d never done it before, but it seemed the easiest thing to do as the air steward handed him back his documents. He was tired, and anxious to get some well-earned sleep on the flight home.

After a fitful night’s sleep the plane landed at Heathrow and pulled onto a stand at the carriers own dedicated terminal. The Worn-out Executive was keen to get home and as he rushed to get his bits and bobs together forgot about his passport in the chair pocket.

It wasn’t until he was at the immigration self-service machines that he realised his passport wasn’t inside his jacket pocket as it would normally be. Still tired and hazy he checked all his pockets multiple times and then explored every nook and cranny of his brief case and his carry-on holdall. Arriving passengers pushed past him as he became more and more agitated, beginning to sweat and wondering where on earth his passport could be. He retraced his journey in his mind, had he left the passport in the airport lounge? Or had it been stolen? He remembered handing it to the air steward on the plane and then what he’d done next came back to him. Oh no!

He found the airlines transfer connections desk and explained what had happened.

‘I’m sorry there is nothing we can do, you cannot go back onto the plane,’ said the efficient desk-person after many attempts by the executive to allow him to do that.

‘As I’ve said already go to the immigration desk. Tell the office what’s happened. Show him your driving licence and then go to the service desk in the baggage reclaim hall.’

And that is what the Worn-out Executive did. The immigration officer sympathetically listened to the story and let the executive pass. He then found his way to the service desk and was greeted by an older man.

The Worn-out Executive explained what had happened and the airline employee began to call one department after another. The cleaning department couldn’t help, nor the ground crew, nor the baggage department but the airline employee just kept trying and asking for more and more senior people. On his seventh call he eventually persuaded someone to go to the executive’s seat and retrieve the passport from the pocket. Half an hour later the Worn-out Executive and his passport were happily reunited.

Walking away from the service desk the Worn-out Executive was so impressed with the service desk employee’s persistence, kindness and charm he asked to speak to his manager.

‘Can you give me the name and details of your CEO. I’m going to write to him to praise that chap’s actions.’

‘No point in that he’s been made redundant and leaves in four hours,’ explained the service manager.

‘How on earth can any company let someone that good go?’

The manager shrugged his shoulders.

Great service comes from within whatever the circumstance. You can train nice people but you can’t train people to be nice.