Fogetting your credit cards is a good test of humanity. I had everythig in my little roller excpet my credit cards. Easy to sort out, one would think… Well, no credit card, no cash. Nothing seems to work now without the chip and pin plastic rectangle. I arrived at Heathrow on my way to Istanbul to give a talk to a global assemblage of deans of engineering schools. All was well until I went to the cash machine to take out the requisite £10 for the Turkish entry visa. A rapid pocket pat-down revealed that I my little Muji case was missing. A short moment later it was confirmed that the silver container was indeed sitting next to the door at home. That was a good thing. But, how to source the £10 for the Visa?
Well, I thought, I fly a ridiculous amount of miles with British Airways and have been a very loyal customer, one of the lounge ladies [they were all female] would certainly loan me the cash for 24 hours. I asked in the lounge and the FIRST thing that the gatekeeper did was say – ” you know, we get fined £2000 if a passenger arrives with improper documentation. Let me call my duty manager to see if you can fly” I just about fell off my chair. She was essentially threatening to hold me in London. This was a new definition of customer service that was beginning to leave a very bad taste. She spoke to her duty manager and ascertained that BA would not be held accountable for my lack of £10 cash so I would indeed be able to board.
I went up to the two branches of the cash exchange booths to plead my situation. After expaling, I inquired that given that I had my credit card number and my passport, would it be possible to get an advance on the card.
Both answers were the same, ‘the system will not allow it’. Foiled by the inflexible fool-proof system….and it never occurred to either lady to lend me the tener. Back to the BA lounge. The gate keeper looked up with a slight bit of interest. I asked her if it would be possible for her to lend me the money. She looked up and said that she would, but did not have any money. She then called the back room to ask ‘would anyone lend ten pounds to a stranded passenger?’ to which I could hear the laughter and negative reply.
The gatekeeper looked at me and commented on how calm I was. I told that I believed in humanity and that it would work out. She simply stared at me. I called my friend Hamdi, who heads up our office in Istanbul. He was at his farm in the country, I explained what had happened and he said ‘leave it with me, I will see what we can do’. So, not knowing what was to happen, but trusting that it would work out, I made my way to gate 26 to board the plane.
I worked on the plane, preparing my talk and chating with my seatmate. He was a nice guy who was on his way to Istanbul for the first time on business. We talked quite a bit about South Africa, where he hailed from, interenational travel and just stuff. Towards the end of the flight we got around to our arrival. I described my situatoin and without hesitation he offered to give me the £10 to get the visa. I told that that I thought that I was going to be met by someone and would most likely not need to take him up on the offer, but that I really appreciated it. It was really generous of him and I told him so…his reply was ‘I would hope that if I was in your situation, someone would lend me the £10′. So true. I borrowed the £10 from him and as I was walking thru immigration, my driver came up holding a sign with my name. He too had been let thru by the police to lend me the £ten to get the visa. It was a double confirmation that a belief in the kindness of humanity is well placed.
What is important about this? Why blog it? So much of life, and our future, comes down to a belief in the positive power of people. It more of us, [ie the lounge lizards in london] would actually look at how to make things work rather that at the reasons why they should not work, then more would work.
The same goes for so much of corporate, urban and every part of life.