When to Break the Rules

I’m sitting next to Rick, a retired railroad engineer, on a delayed Southwest flight from Tampa to Baltimore. It’s been a LONG week of serial cancelled flights, and other travel frustrations. I’m wearing the same suit I wore in Detroit on Tuesday because I never did make it home between gigs.

Rick doesn’t seem to notice the wrinkles, as we begin swapping travel nightmare stories.

It was the middle of winter and the train was headed through a really rural section of upstate New York. The snow was coming down so hard you couldn’t see the sky, when the train stopped dead on the tracks—serious engine trouble. After several hours of waiting for help, it was clear we had a very long night ahead of us.

The café car ran out of food. The passengers were one Snickers bar short of a riot.

Jeff (whom Rick proudly pointed out he had trained), went to the café car attendant and said, we’ve got to solve this problem—people need to eat. Please give me some cash, I’m going to find food.

Jeff then trudged through the snow to the Kentucky Fried Chicken and said he needed 159 chicken dinners.

The kid behind the counter looked panicked, “Look, man, I want to help and I’ve got the chicken, but I don’t have enough staff to cook all that!”

Jeff smiled, “No worries, I used to work at a KFC. Let me just wash my hands and come back and help you.”

I can only imagine the eruption of applause as Jeff returned smelling of grease and salt, and began handing out free chicken.

It’s hard to be cranky with a drumstick in your hand.

Many customers took the time to write Amtrak with commendations. Amtrak fully supported his out of the box thinking.

Two weeks later his boss wrote him up for having his hat on crooked.

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