Monday, September 26, 2011

No Water for You

DAY 129 (Year Two)

One of my "sticky" habits (changes that have prevailed over time and memory) is bringing a reusable water bottle, a travel coffee cup, bamboo To-Go Ware and my own cloth napkins when I travel. I usually refill the water bottle before getting on the plane at a water fountain (aka "bubbler" - hello WI/MN family and friends!) or at a restaurant. I do not get water from the restroom sink. Nope.

Anyway, I was a little rushed getting onto the last leg of a Delta flight home and saved my water refill for the flight. I have never been refused a refill on board, so I had no reason to think this time would be any different...

Once we were at cruising altitude and drinks were being served - which by the way I NEVER need to know how high in the sky we are, thank you - I got my bottle ready and was going to deliver my standard, "Water please and could you put it in here?", while offering up the bottle to the attendant with a casual and perky, "Just trying to save a cup!"

Well, that wouldn't wash with Wanda, who responded, "Oh ,right, uh, well, no." I was surprised, but just said OK and put my bottle away which in retrospect must have thrown her off - perhaps she was expecting a volume argument. I figured it was just a matter of time before I would be refused for sanitary know, if her bottle touched my bottle in a moment of sudden turbulence - it would be icky, there would be germs and would create a very un-hygienic situation...and I agree! Her bottle would be unusable and besides who knows if her bottle had touched other people's bottles. Wanda clearly felt bad for denying me - she told me that she would feel responsible if I got dehydrated and offered me a plastic cup of water to pour into my bottle - still defeating the purpose of not using a cup. She tried hard to get me to take a cup with her promise to recycle it. She even offered me the liter bottle she was pouring from! Nonetheless, I stuck with my decision and she stuck with hers. I had to say four or five times that it was OK, I totally understood and reassured her that we would be Facebook friends by the time we landed!

Anyway, my positive agreement with her and her willingness to share the reasons behind her response, led us into Part One of a great conversation about it not being Delta's policy about not refilling water bottles (she wasn't sure they had one!) but actually her own personal policy. I respect that 100%. Delta does recycle when they can (time permitting) and I appreciate that. This exchange took about 5 minutes and with an "ahem" from the other attendant, and as they rolled on back to dispense more Coke and tomato juice and I heard one or two more "sorrys"...clearly she felt really bad about

Part Two of the conversation was back in the galley with Wanda and the other two flight attendants. As I was walking back to the bathroom, I said (loud enough for W to overhear, thinking I was funny), "Gosh I am so thirsty..." which served to open up the conversation again - she really did feel bad! Nonetheless, we had a quick but deep conversation about values and sticking to them whether or not it is company policy. I explained my commitment to not just Recycle on the back end but to Reduce on the front end. They talked about the challenge of the inconsistent "no refill" policy between flights and even between attendants on the same flight. They had stories of unhappy, non-compliant passengers whose insistence on using their own bottles and cups made for added stress. With no policy to back them up, the reliance on their personal conviction of this seemingly simple decision to refuse a refill was admirable.

Interesting. Isn't that how life is? There are no company policies to lean on or blame when it comes to personal decisions on how we live our lives, how we treat others, how we spend our time and money.

Once safely on the ground at my final destination, I said goodbye to Wanda and she said, "Sorry." one more time, I said, "It's OK, thank you." one more time and we parted ways...

Lesson learned - fill early and often and be ready to back your decisions with your values - even at 32,000 feet.

Have a Nothing New Day! Kristin

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