We’ve all had those days when we’ve woken up on the wrong side of the bed, had an extra helping of grumpy for breakfast, and then stubbed our toe on the way out the door. On days like this, it’s easy to let that bad mood dissipate into everything you do: greeting your coworker’s cheery "good morning!" with a grunt, scowling at your monitor, or perhaps taking the last of the coffee without making more. We’re all guilty of the Monday (or Tuesday) blues, but it’s nice to be reminded that sometimes even the littlest of actions could make someone’s day. Who knows, you could even end up as the subject of a sermon that week.
Through the magic of word-of-mouth, I came across a weekly bulletin from the Church of the Nativity in Burke, Virginia. David Castelveter, the Vice President of Communications for the Air Transport Association, was in attendance at a Sunday Mass in December when Southwest Airlines was the subject in his pastor’s sermon. I’m posting the church bulletin in its entirety below, but in it Father Richard Martin talks about his trip to Baltimore for his mother’s 95th birthday. Traveling is especially stressful during the holidays, what with the potential of bad weather, long lines, and crowds of cranky people everywhere you go. So Father Martin was a tad astonished to find these Southwest attendants being cheerful, attentive, and overall displaying a Fun-LUVing attitude. In this day and age, it’s sometimes a surprise to see people actually enjoying their jobs.
For most people, flying is not exactly fun. You’re crammed in a plane with a bunch of strangers for several hours miles above the ground. But I’ve always associated the happy, often hilarious Flight Attendants as the face of Southwest, and since coming to work here, I appreciate them even more. Their job is anything but easy, but they’re always the friendliest, happiest people on the plane–and they’re the ones working! It’s heartening to know such simple gestures–smiling at Customer, helping put away bags–could inspire a pastor in Virginia to dedicate his weekly bulletin and homily to these FA’s.
Father Martin has been a fan of Southwest since they flew into BWI fifteen years ago. He flies at least once a month, and around fifteen to twenty times a year. He flies so much that Flight Attendants from all over recognize him on flights. What inspired him to dedicate his entire bulletin to this particular flight on November 24th? It was Flight Attendant David Feather’s closing announcement at the end of the flight, reminding Customers to "have a safe day and be kind to one another."
"I was just so impressed by what that man said," Father Martin exclaimed. "I’ve never heard that from any other airline."
So why put it in a sermon? "I believe you should communicate good news more. Bad news always makes the rounds, but positive things sometimes get left behind."
I knew Father Martin was a true Southwest fan when he mentioned founder Herb Kelleher’s book, "Nuts!" He believes it’s practically a spiritual reading, and has actually given it as a gift to friends. "The people of Southwest live up to everything in that book. I have never met a mean person that works for this airline." How did his congregation react to his Southwest sermon on Sunday? With over 15,000 members, there were more than a few calls and emails pouring in with people wanting to tell their own Southwest story.
The Golden Rule can be found all over the halls of Southwest, and it’s easy to walk right by it without noticing. But thanks to Flight Attendant David Feather and Father Martin, I’m going to look at it a little differently from now on.
And the next time I wake up feeling particularly crotchety (usually every morning before coffee) I’m going to remember that the littlest things can often leave the biggest impression. And who knows, you might even wind up as the subject of a sermon next Sunday.
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