My Faith in Others is Renewed – A Belgian Story About Going The Extra Mile

Walk your talkI did something really stupid en route to a wedding in Brussels with my wife today (and revisited a valuable lesson along the way).

Prior to this point, our trip couldn’t have gone more smoothly (with zero issues getting to Dublin Airport at early o’clock this morning, getting through security in minutes, and a timely Ryanair flight followed by a seamless connection with a train that whizzed us to the centre of Brussels).

It was all going so well. This travel lark can be so easy when done right!

Famous last words.

Not 2 minutes after leaving the train station, Google Map in hand, and trying to figure out where ‘such and such street’ was on a map with tiny writing (which required serious squinting, even with my trusty glasses in place), I stopped in my tracks.

“Where’s my bag”, I asked out loud.

My wife looked at my disconsolate, ashen face and knew there was little she could say. I knew it too.

In that instant, I realised that while I had my computer bag with me, I had left my suitcase –full of all the clothes I’d need for 2 days of wedding parties – behind me on an overhead compartment above our seats in the train we had taken!

And worse, I knew my suitcase was heading for a final destination unknown and the chances I’d either every see it again or (best case scenario) get my clothes back in time for the wedding were slim and none – and, more likely, the latter.

I ran back to the station and found a member of staff in a vain hope that somehow or someway something could be done.

What do You Do When Faced With Moments of Truth?

The lady I asked, Stephanie (that’s her in the above pic), had seen it all before. I could see her looking at me looking at her with my pleading eyes as I explained my woes and all the time thinking:

‘How do I break this to you? The chances of you getting your lost luggage back in this rail network are so poor we don’t even bother with lost and found offices anymore. And while I’m supposed to give you an email address so you can write to inquire about your luggage, you have more chances of winning the next 3 Euro millions Lottos in a row than getting more than a “We’re sorry you lost your luggage and we’ll keep an eye out for it” Dear John letter from these folks.’

But. That’s not what she said.

Instead, after my wife added that these were clothes needed for a wedding, Stephanie listened, nodded her head and said these magic words:

“I’m not supposed to do this. And chances are it won’t work, but…

…Let me see what I can do!”

Now, I’m going to tell you upfront, I knew Stephanie had her work cut out for her.

This was a case of a needle in a giant haystack. But, regardless of the outcome, she had already won me over. In times of need, a little empathy goes a long way.

But what made this story different is how Stephanie (who I will now rename my Angel in Brussels) turned her words into action. She was a woman on a mission, regardless of dreadful odds.

She made call after call to train managers and heads of stations, she put out a plethora of emails (electronic tom-toms), and even took the time to retrace my steps from the platform where we arrived back to her office – just in case (and this could easily have happened), I had actually taken the suitcase off the train and merely left it somewhere on my travels. No joy.

Finally, we needed to have ‘that’ conversation about sending a ‘Hail Mary’ email (which we knew was a mere wheel spinning exercise).

But, before we left it at that with heavy hearts – after a good college try – she hesitated and decided she’d push just that little bit further:

“Let me try one more thing. Wait here.  I don’t even know if these folks will listen to me.”

In for a penny, in for a pound, we waited.

And while our Angel was away I admitted to my missus:

Honestly, if I was a betting man, I’d say the odds of ever getting my things back are 10 to 1 against.

But still, we waited

And then…

…We saw Stephanie emerge from a flight of stairs, beaming!

“You’re not going to believe this”, she said. “This never happens. I think we’ve found your bag. There’s a bag that matches the description you’ve given me in Lens and they’re going to send it back here an hour from now. You CAN go to the ball!”

Can you imagine our reaction?

Stephanie had, single-handedly, melted our hearts by her kindness and willingness to go the extra mile.

The tag on the back of her blue overall read “Can I help you?” and boy did she ever!

Why Walking the Talk is a Winning Tactic For Any Communicator

If your actions exceed the promises you make with your words as a speaker or communicator of any ilk, you’ll win deep trust, admiration, and gratitude from any audience.

And the moral of the story today is this:

Words without action carry little weight. Actions that clearly back up (or better still exceed) your words are sure to inspire!

And behold a customer (me) who wants to tell EVERYONE why exceeding expectation pays today!














About Eamonn O'Brien

Public speaking master, Eamonn O'Brien is the founder of The Reluctant Speakers Club.