Tuesday, April 22, 2008

the lesson for today

Brought to you by Air France (motto: "If we haven't lost your luggage, we haven't done our job!"), by way of The Happiness Project and Homefront Six.

On our recent journey to an otherwise undisclosed overseas location, Air France did its job and lost my luggage. The French-speaking customer "service" rep (in an English-speaking country) managed to convey that the luggage was inexplicably unaccounted for, but that it would undoubtedly arrive later that afternoon.

Eet weel be saint to yuehr ohtelle tuehmohroh.

"Tomorrow? Why not toDAY?"

It appears that it is too expensive to send luggage on to my ohtelle whenever it appears Air France is done with losing my luggage. Instead, they "batch" the lost bags, and do one big delivery the next day.

Ownlehss yueh arrr beezinesss klass? Yueh arrr beezinesss klass, pehrhaps?

"Does that make a difference?"

Yes, that does make a difference. Then, apparently, they send your bag straight away. But I wasn't business class. Still, the customer service rep said he had good news for me: there was a bag they would give me at the ticket counter desk that would contain everything I needed until my bag arrived.

"Does it contain pajamas?" I asked. No. No pajamas. No face cream or make-up or a change of clothes. "But it does contain a T-shirt" I was assured. Great. Fifteen hours of travel and I have a T-shirt to tide me over till the next day.

I picked up the thing, which you see pictured above. Inside (going from memory here, as I promptly ditched the contents) was a tiny toothbrush with vile-tasting paste, a little plastic container that looked like a pill-box, but which proved to be deodorant (sticky and smelly, and difficult of application, as it kept falling apart), a small plastic bag with 2 cotton balls and 2 Q-tips, a Barbie-doll sized "travel" brush, some horrible smelling liquids claiming to be all-in-one soap/gel/shampoo and a matching "lotion", a single-blade non-safety razor, and the promised T-shirt.

I think that was it.

Like I said, I threw everything out. Except the little bag. That almost went, as well, but I was fascinated by the logo.
Caring More About You
Just think of it. This is something they have given to someone whose luggage they have lost. Someone who is inconvenienced; maybe even mad.

This is the message they want to give me? That they are "caring more about me"?

How about: "We're sorry you can't be using your own cosmetics and brush, but hey - here! - please use these instead while we do our best to find YOUR BAG so you can throw this out right away."

Or "Please take this as a memento of how horrible our service smells."

With "caring" like that, I'd like a little less caring.

ANYway, today, I read the posting above, from the Happiness Project - a bit of a self-rah-rah place by a woman who's got a publishing contract to write a book about happiness, and is already pre-marketing it. She's got some interesting thoughts on occasion, though. The post in question challenges us to examine our "heuristics". . . . by which I take it she means our unspoken assumptions and even prejudices.

One of my underlying operating criteria is "Actions speak louder than words".

I think that's why I was so taken with this stupid little bag that proclaimed great care, but symbolized negligence and resulting injury, unrepented of. The actions drowned out the words. I was fascinated with it.

Second, Homefront Six talked - among other things - about it being our choice: better, or bitter, and that we could either bitch about a problem or (quoting Ghandi) be part of the solution.

I liked that. I tend to bitch about things. It is not something I admire in myself. But my lesson today was that I do have a choice. I was pleased to see that I had chosen to move on to better. Instead of choosing to harbor resentment against Air France, I've converted their ridiculous little bag into my travel snack bag: one compartment for the pistachio nuts, the other for the shells, once the nuts have been eaten. I took it to Florida last week.

One day - too - I imagine I'll be able to look back on the whole episode with amusement. For now, I'm learning to be pleased at having found a positive use for the ill-conceived 'proof-of-caring' bag.


Ewa said...

Caring more about you - what a sick marketing mind could come up with this idea?
I am sorry for you and lost luggage, but it made me really laughing loud :)

and your talent to write French English is also very funny and perfect :) I mean I can hear it while reading :)

prophet said...

Thanks Ewa - glad you liked zee Frrrainch man. . . . and I'm glad you laughed. That shows that my own attitude has relaxed too, don't you think? grin!