Every day I want to know something. How can a company president not know the name of the state’s U. S. senators? How does Neiman Marcus know I check out that bathing suit on their website? Every day I have questions that often go unanswered.
This is a story, a real story, about a question that had an answer. And the answer was fascinating. I learned many lessons in the answer and I think you can too.
I stepped off the plane at the Dallas, Ft. Worth airport on my way to Tucson. Unless you have your own private plane, there are no direct flights to Tucson, the land of the brown and flat. I was not even out of the gate area, when an airport personnel type looking person approached me. “What gate was I connecting at,” he asked me. He then proceeded, unasked; to pick up my carry on and put it on that shuttle labeled DISABILITY.
I take Barre classes, aerial yoga, and spin. I don’t think of myself as disabled. While I do have a faint memory of the day JFK was killed, I don’t think of myself as requiring a shuttle labeled DISABILITY. I followed my carry-on to the little shuttle golf cart all the while perplexed as to why I was now breezing through the airport when everyone else was walking.
Perhaps I was going to be abducted to the bowels of the airport? Where is homeland security when you need them?
I was both glad to have the ride and feeling guilty for not getting in a minor amount of cardio while searching for my gate. Perhaps I thought, passersby would think I had a foot injury hidden from view.
Why oh why oh why did he put me on that shuttle? That was my burning question. About mid-way to my gate he stopped and picked up another able bodied person. But this one he identified as his boss. Yeah! I thought, now I can get an answer to this burning question of why me?
Did I look disabled, did I look old, did I look pathetic, what was it? The answer shocked me. More for my naivety than his brazen proactive status, The boss guy explained to me that the drivers of these glorified golf carts are paid $5.00 an hour. Have you figured out the answer yet? Any additional income comes directly from tips. There are those drivers that just pick up the passengers they are sent to meet on each flight: the old, the disabled, and the infirmed. And then there are drivers like mine. My driver figured out a way to increase his income: by picking up healthy passengers. He could either moonlight on a second job, or figure out how to increase his earning income on his present job. My driver was increasing his income potential.
They funny thing is that if the boss guy had not told me this, I probably would not have tipped. Not because I didn’t appreciate his ride. I just would not have thought of it. As a healthy person, I don’t usually take rides on the DISABILITY cart so I don’t know the etiquette.
One lesson learned to me was that there is always another way to increase your income, your footprint, your influence, whatever it is that you want to increase. Although not standard, his way was accepted as “legal” by his superiors.
In the aftermath I told probably ten people about what happened and asked them why they thought it happened. Only one was correct. And it was probably the least formally educated person of the ten, but the right resource for the challenge. No one got the answer correct except for the one person I asked who is in the service industry and depends on tips for a living.
This lesson re-learned to me was that to find the correct answer, you have to ask the correct source. Sometimes it may be the person at the top, other times it may be the service person that can see what you can’t see.
There will always be experiences and lessons. The bigger lesson is to find a way to get your burning questions answered.