When Life Gives You Problems, Speak Solutions

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Recently, I discovered that I could have two phone lines – personal and business – on the same iPhone, and certain numbers could forward to my line, like when my spouse travels and would be unavailable. Pretty cool! The process needed troubleshooting so the phone company instructed me to go to a nearby store, and they assured me that the three of us would fix the problem.

The task at the store required that I snap a photo of a QR code, but I didn’t have a second phone. The store clerk offered to receive the email with the code, and I could take the picture. However, the phone company refused to do that because they had never done it that way before. I was right there, so what was the problem? Were they afraid that the clerk would go home and spend his weekend reading that QR Code? After all, the company leader suggested I go to the store and even called me from there. What did I miss?

I asked the company to send the email containing the QR code to my phone so that I could access it precisely from my phone. Then I enlisted the clerk to snap the photo of the code, and I took the photo displayed on his phone screen. The issue was resolved, and I now have two working phone lines.

This reminded of an issue from my first job working for an airline at the Kansas airport. One Saturday, an elderly woman came to the counter asking about her delayed flight and how long it would be so she could ration her medication. I offered to retrieve her suitcase, but my supervisor denied my request due to company policy around theft. Despite my invitation to join me in retrieving the bag, he refused. As time passed the woman was becoming anxious and even offered to buy a ticket on another airline, but my supervisor demanded her driver’s license. She explained that she didn’t drive in years and with trembling hands presented him a medical container as proof. This was way back as you can tell, back when no ID was needed, just a ticket! My supervised told her that his hands were tied and nothing could be done for her.

I could not walk away, we were not busy and the delay was our fault. She looked so vulnerable and reminded me of my grandmother. After a quick search, I discovered that her flight from Kansas to Des Moines was still available at the same cost. I cancelled the original flight and refunded the woman’s money as a credit. Now I was allowed to retrieve her bag. She took her meds and I re-booked her using the credit, tagged her back and sent it back to the aircraft. My supervisor shrugged his shoulders and said, “If you want to do it that way…” She was on a verge of a melt-down!

During times of inconvenience, I’ve found that I’m able to tap into my creativity in a way that others can’t. What helps me when faced with a challenge is I make a conscious effort to avoid dwelling on it and instead ask myself, “What’s another way?” Essentially, our self-talk needs to be empowering to allow us to explore new perspectives and methods to empower ourselves and others during difficult moments. I never allow myself to think that “my hands are tied”, because negativity – even hypothetical negativity – can stifle creativity.

Leila Kubesch